It’s nice to be prepared.
I’m dedicating this post to the things that I’ve found that are helpful for a home birth. Keep in mind that you really don’t need much outside of yourself to give birth!
Your body knows exactly what to do even if you’re not sure. By letting go and surrendering to the process, you are doing the best that you can – a conscious passivity to the whole thing – kind of like floating in water. But, that’s another post altogether…
For this one, I want to focus on the physical things that can help a birth go nicely. I’m going to give you 2 lists: the first will be the list with commentary – the second one at the end will be something you can print out.
Ok, here we go…
1. Notice Board (paper or whiteboard or blackboard) with phone numbers (emergency, friends, family, etc) and “notes” for others that may be present at the birth.
By having all pertinent information in one place that is easily accessed by anyone, you can rest into your space without having to answer or help someone who needs information. Example: my mothers phone number, the number of a friend who has had all her kids at home and who might be able to answer a question if you have one, the number of a few restaurants in the area if people want to order food. Other things you might want to put on the board are notes for people such as “I would like to keep a sacred and quiet space, please keep conversations outside the birth space, please do not ask me any questions, feel free to offer help, food or water and if I don’t want it I will let you know” – things like that. They can be on post-it notes, or just written on the board. Even if you have discussed these things with your birth support members, it’s a good idea to have reminders like this posted for everyone to see.
2. Do not disturb sign for front door
You may also want to include a contact phone number. Neighbors may wonder what is going on, or you may have someone trying to make a delivery to your home…you never know. I always gave my neighbors a heads up before the birth, but honestly, I’ve never known this to ever be a problem. It will probably make you feel better knowing that it’s posted on the door, though.
3. Food buffet table – snack foods, drink with either a straw or a sport bottle top
I like to treat the birthing space as a celebration space, and the food is a big part of that. Cocktail party fare is best. Small, easy to eat items are good, that way someone else can pop something in your mouth easily. Sushi, cheese, crackers, falafal, champagne, fresh fruit, chocolate truffles, kombucha, just to name a few, would be on my table. Keep in mind that wine or champagne can really help you relax. There may be a point where you will not want to use your hands, especially the further you go in the process, so drinks with a straw, or a sport top, work well so that someone else can help give it to you. The point is to ENJOY the process! On the same level as if it were your wedding day. Have foods and drinks that are special – that make you happy. No limitations.
3. Water bottle with sport top (to be used afterwards in your Nest too)
Or a glass of water with a straw. The point is that, again, you may not be wanting to or able to use your hands (if you’re on your hands and knees for example), but you really need to keep hydrated during the process and having someone squeeze some water in your mouth in between contractions can be very nice. Keeping the bottle for afterwards for the nesting time (supply list in another post…) makes it a useful tool.
4. Food for after the birth – either a plan for the meal you want (which restaurant to get take out), or something in the freezer/fridge that can be easily accessed by anyone
I am a foodie! I really see it as one of the best parts of being pregnant and having a baby! I never enjoyed food as much as I did during those times. And shortly after giving birth (1-3 hours after), is one of those times. Really think it through – you will be so hungry! Your body will be SCREAMING for really yummy food. Even though I don’t eat meat very much – sometimes go years without it – I really loved it after I gave birth. I’ve even ordered some through take out for vegan moms who were so surprised that they craved it, but listened to their bodies messages and knew that it was what they needed. I also knew many times what I thought I would want, prior to the birth, and then prepared to have that delivered as soon as I was ready. With my last baby, I had someone order a Filet Mignon from my favorite place and bring it to me. I had the bread rolls that I wanted to go with it in my freezer, along with the chocolate cake that I had made for just this time, as well as a bottle of wine. It was not difficult for a friend to put together for me, and it was one of the best meals of my life! Sitting in my nest/bed eating this delicious food and gazing at my new baby laying in front of me is a wonderful memory.
5. Music – 6 to 8 hours playlist
The playlist that you use for birth will very likely be the same one you use for your Nest. Relaxing, beautiful music that makes you feel happy, calm, strong is the best. Remember the music is for baby too. I like to suggest to friends of a pregnant mother to make playlists for her as a birthing gift.
6. Incense, candles, essential oils (a few drops in a spray bottle of water)
Again, this is a sacred, special, beautiful event. Make your environment reflect that. The essential oils in the spray bottle is one of my favorite things to have at a birth. The misting on your face or around the room can lift or calm the energy immediately (depending on which oil is used). I also like using a misting bottle rather than massage oil for example. This way, if you don’t like the scent at any point, it can easily be changed to something else. Or, as labor progresses, you can switch up the scents that are around you.
7. 10 towels
Better to use old towels, or buy some at a thrift store just for this time. Use them for any number of things! (you’ll see…) and, you can cut them up afterwards and use them for wipes for diaper changing.
8. 5 wash cloths and small bowl for cold water
Why 5? I have no idea! But it seems that its the amount that is usually used. You will use them to soak in cold water to put on your forehead or the back of your neck. Sometimes it feels nice to just wipe your face with one.
9. A special bowl for the placenta
The placenta is a sacred conscious being! In some cultures, it is buried and offerings are made to it every single day for the rest of the life of the baby who shared space with it. Choose a receiving bowl that reflects the beauty of it. An antique bowl from a cool thrift shop, or something your mother has in her china cabinet. You get the idea. A plastic bucket will work if you need it but…yikes, really??
10. Blankets, wraps, etc. of different weights and textures
You might want a big fluffy down comforter one minute and then a light, cotton sarong the next! Have several to choose from, it’s nice to cuddle up with something sometimes.
11. Pillows of different sizes
You might want to be surrounded by big cushy pillows, you might want to put a thin flexible bed pillow on the birth ball, and you might need something like a travel neck rest pillow for the birth tub. It’s just nice to have a variety to choose from.
12. Cord burning bowl, tea light candle (white), regular candle (white)
Unless you are doing a lotus birth, at some point you will want to detach the placenta from the baby. This is a big deal, I feel, on an energetic and spiritual level. To make this into a ceremonial process just feels right, and good. I will explain the process of cord burning in a separate post, or you can also research it yourself. But the short answer is that the cord is draped over the bowl, the tea light is inside the bowl, and then someone is also holding a regular candle under the cord. It takes about 10 minutes, babies love it, its sterile and cauterizes the cord, and its just a nice thing to experience.
13. Nice paper for footprints, large piece if you want a placenta print
The placenta offers the best materials for an art project! One idea is to use the blood from the placenta as the ink to do the footprints, and if you want to do prints of the placenta as well, it’s a lot of fun. It looks like the roots of a tree. The tree of life. If you’re going to do a print, don’t wait too long for the placenta to dry.
14. Disposable “chux” pads – 10 to 15 (towels work too if you have someone who will wash them afterwards)
You will use these during the birth as well as in your Nest for leaking amniotic fluid, blood, etc. You don’t have to have them. I personally like to reduce any unnecessary garbage, but here in the Caribbean, it’s also not the easiest thing to wash and dry a bunch of towels. You can also get these pads from a pet store.
15. 2 thin, cheap shower curtains (one for the bed, one to have close by)
You never know where you might be and your water is leaking out with every contraction! It’s just nice to have a big water proof protective something to have on hand, and that can be moved easily, allowing you to move around. The other one is for the bed…
16. Prepared Bed
The best way to prepare the bed is the following: first layer, sheets, blanket, etc. – second layer, thin shower curtain – third layer, sheets, blanket, etc. This way, you can still be on your bed, and if (this actually rarely happens) it becomes covered in amniotic fluid, blood, etc., you can easily have someone strip it all off after the birth, roll it up into a big ball with the shower curtain, and then have a freshly made bed all ready to go with your favorite dry, clean sheets.
17. Head light Flashlight
I don’t even know why this is on the list necessarily, but for some reason, a head light flashlight seems to come in handy for so many random things…Also – it can be used afterwards for the Nest (see separate post), so it’s something good to have.
18. Regular Flashlight
It seems that if one person is in need of a flashlight – there is usually a need for a second one…so, just good to have!
This isn’t really necessary, but if you want to know the weight of the baby right after birth, you will want to have this. I used a kitchen scale at my last birth. I took a large mixing bowl, put blankets in it, placed it on the scale, and adjusted the scale to reflect a “0” weight, then laid my baby in the bowl and put the whole thing on the scale. 9 pounds! yes, she was!
20. Sarong or easily removable cover-up or robe
Getting in and out of the shower, tub, hot tub, going to the bathroom, etc. – the point is that more than likely you’re going to want to be naked one minute and then covered up the next. It’s also nice to have something that someone can easily help you on and off with. Make sure it’s BEAUTIFUL!! It really helps to feel pretty during this process.
21. Bag for hospital if necessary
Of course you don’t want to need this! But you might. And it’s much better to be prepared. Things to have in the bag? Birth Plan (of course they will laugh, but have it anyway!), extra phone charger, snacks (good food isn’t so easy to find at a hospital, go figure!), water bottle, money, credit card, extra car keys, music, essential oil spray bottle, personal care items, change of clothes, shoes (the clothes and shoes aren’t completely necessary, but this way YOU’re picking them out, instead of someone else bringing you something later) – you might also want to have the number of a good lawyer just in case you have any issues or questions.
22. Charging station for phones, music, speakers, etc.
This seems to be one of the most important things at a birth! With other support people in your home, everyone has at least one device that’s going to need charged. You’re also going to want to make sure you can take pictures, listen to music, etc. Make it accessible but not so anyone is tripping over cords!
23. Birth Altar
This is beneficial on so many levels! Actually something that is optimally created prior to conception, the birth altar will serve as a space that acts as a reminder of the sacredness of this event, as well as serves as a space to honor ancestors and ideas or people that are special or important to you. Make it beautiful! Use it as a focal point during your birth.
Well, there it is, my recommended birth supply list.
If you choose to have other people there at the birth as support, it’s a good idea to designate tasks to specific people such as, I might ask my sister to be in charge of the food table, candles, incense and music. I might ask my friend who is a massage therapist to be close by should I want her help. Some people have a musician who is only there to play music the entire time. Just remember that you can totally create the environment that feels good to you, and there are people who love you who will be happy to do whatever they can to make this an amazing beautiful time. Also remember that you may do better having nobody there at all – with no food more than a sandwich and it will still be incredible. The real power comes from you connecting so deeply with this rite of passage, allowing yourself to surrender to the power of life. Whether you have sushi there or not – YOU decide how you want to perceive the event. The supply list helps as a guide to what you may want to have, and can make for a nice environment, but it’s not completely necessary. YOU ARE ALL YOU NEED!!!
HOME BIRTH SUPPLY LIST
- Notice Board
- Do not disturb sign for door
- Food buffet table – snack foods, cup with a straw or a sport bottle top
- Water bottle with sport top
- Food – for after the birth
- Music – 6 to 8 hours playlist
- Incense, candles, essential oils (in spray bottle)
- 10 towels
- 5 wash cloths
- Nice bowl for the placenta
- Blankets of different weights and textures
- Pillows of different sizes
- Nice paper for footprints, large piece if you want a placenta print
- Cord burning bowl, tea light candle (white), regular candle (white)
- Disposable “chux” pads – 10 to 15
- 2 thin shower curtains
- Prepared Bed
- Head light Flashlight
- Regular Flashlight
- Sarong or easily removable cover-up or robe
- Bag for hospital if necessary
- Charging station for phones, music, speakers, etc.
- Birth Altar