My son, Jadon, just one day old, is nestled safely in my lap right now. My husband and I were planning to give birth to him at home. I recognize that I have a unique opportunity to give you a glimpse into the home birth experience. Before choosing to birth at home, I was very curious about the logistics of a home birth, before, during, and after.
This post is dedicated to the "before" details. What do you have to do to be prepared to birth at home?
First, my husband and I had to hire a midwife, and she had to agree that I was a good candidate for home birth (basically, low-risk pregnancy). When I was about 6 months pregnant, we found our midwife through a local birthing center.
I then had to see her for regular prenatal appointments. These appointments followed the typical schedule for OB/Gyn visits (meet monthly prior to 28 weeks, meet every other week until week 36, and then meet every week until the birth). My midwife performed routine check-up procedures during these appointments, including checking my blood pressure; monitoring fetal growth, heart rate, and position; urine tests; blood work; and the Group B Strep test. If needed, she could even order ultrasounds and other screenings through a hospital that she could not perform on her own. All appointments and tests continued to affirm and reaffirm that I was an excellent candidate for birthing in our home setting.
Jon and I also had to prepare a "birthing kit" for our midwife to use at the birth. She supplied us with a very detailed outline of the things we needed to gather, most of which are items we already had around the house. Here's our birthing kit:
A – Paper towels
B – Several (4-5) old (but clean) towels and washcloths (6-8 additional towels for water birth)
C – Heating pad (or hot water bottle) for keeping towels warm
D – 20 Sterile gauze pads (4x4 inches)
E – 2 Plastic sheets or shower curtains (one is under the sheets on my bed in case my water brakes in the middle of the night
F – 25 foot potable hose (made for drinking water) for filling up the birthing tub from our sink
G – 2 packages of 24x32 inch chux pads (they are plastic on one side and cotton fluffy on the other side)
H – Clorox Bleach to clean the water pump after a water birth
I – Oxy Clean
J – Bendable drinking straws
K – Witch hazel pads (for healing sore tissue postpartum)
L – 2 garbage bags
M – 1 can of Dermaplast spray (numbing spray for postpartum)
N – 2 medium sized metal or glass bowls (one for tools, one for placenta)
O – Bright flashlight with fresh batteries
P – Clean pair of scissors
Q – Rubbing alcohol
R – Hydrogen Peroxide
S – Handheld mirror for water birthOur midwife would also show up on the day of the birth with her own medical and legal supplies, such as a Doppler for checking Jadon's heart rate in the womb, tests to perform once he was born, and paperwork for his birth certificate. We were instructed to store our items in a laundry basket and have them ready for easy access by week 37 of pregnancy.
We stored our birthing kit underneath the changing table in Jadon's room, right next to...
...the birthing tub! Some midwives charge you extra if you wish to have a water birth, but ours includes the tub in her normal fees. She even lets her patients set up the tubs weeks in advance so there's one less thing to worry about when you actually go into labor. In the picture above, you will also see a crock pot set aside in the pool, which is used for making hot compresses (just washcloths soaked in hot water).
During the 37th week of pregnancy, my midwife visits all of her patients' homes to get a "lay of the land" where the birth will take place. It was during this visit that she helped us chose the best place to set up the pool. Jadon's room was the best location for several reasons. It has a nice big space in the middle for the tub, but still allows room for other people to be around the tub and assist me while I am in the water. Jadon's room also has easy access to the bathroom (right across the hall), and to a bed (for resting before or after the birth). In addition, this room can be easily darkened or secluded, which helps women relax during labor.
Jon and I set up the tub two weeks before my due date. And then, we had to do what every expecting couple does: wait.
If you were paying attention to the beginning of the post, you'll remember that a home birth is what we planned. Up until the labor, we were still going according to this plan. But God had other ideas for Jadon's arrival.
Stay tuned for part II.