Having your baby at home gives you a chance to give birth on your own terms and in a familiar environment. Preparation is crucial to achieve an enjoyable experience, as free of stress as possible. While you don't know the exact moment your little one will arrive, you can make sure your home is ready.
The people you have around you play a big role in making sure your home birth is a success. Laura Fortner, a certified doula and owner of By Your Side Doula Services, in Washington State, suggests surrounding yourself with supportive people who respect your wishes. This includes a licensed midwife and an experienced doula, who have talked to you extensively about your birth plan. Also include family members or friends who encourage you during the experience and who you want to be present.
Picking a Room
Think about which rooms in your home have the right amount of space for giving birth and which rooms make you feel the most relaxed. "Assess your space and decide where you want to birth your baby," Fortner advises. For example, if you want to have a water birth, but have a small bathroom, you will have to prepare to set up a birthing pool in another area of the home. You could even set up that birthing pool in the backyard if you think having your baby outdoors seems like the most relaxing option.
Gathering Your Supplies
A licensed midwife will likely provide you with a list of necessary items, including lubricant, waterproof gauze pads, gloves, and plenty of washcloths and towels. Some of the products such as peri bottles, used for personal cleanliness, and plastic cord clamps won't be found at a regular drug store. Look for them at a medical supply store or an online store specializing in home birth supplies. Fortner suggests stocking up on home birth supplies during the second trimester to avoid scrambling at the last minute and to make sure you're fully prepared in case baby makes an early arrival.
Handing Off Pets
You may be so focused on your new baby that you forget to think about your pets. The truth is, your animals may not be the best home birth companions. Set up care for your pets ahead of time, Fortner suggests, based on her experience with numerous home births. If you have a hyper dog or nervous cats, the extra people in the home could heighten their anxiety and cause problems during your home birth. Find someone to watch your pets offsite for a few days to keep the birth as stress-free as possible.
Sometimes things don't go as planned. Prepare yourself for alternate birthing setups and tag people to fill in if members of your support team can't make it. For example, if the birth process doesn't progress in bed, you'll want to have supplies on hand for a water birth. If your midwife has a vacation scheduled around your due date, you'll need someone else on call to fill in. Everyone on your birth team knows who to contact in case of an emergency or if a hospital transfer is required.