I often get asked about the requirements for a home birth.
"I live in a small apartment, can I give birth there?"
"I live on the third floor, is that ok?"
"We are a multigenerational family sharing space."
"What will I do with my older kids?"
"Will I need a Doula?"
Long story short, it actually takes very little to create a safe cozy space to give birth in. Here are a couple pointers.
The Birth Room
The ideal room to give birth in is the one you’ll feel most comfortable. It needs to be clean and uncluttered and spacious enough to accommodate the family, birth team, and any invited guests. Many people who prepare a room for the baby use it for the labor and birth, and then retreat to their own room with the baby postpartum. Consider hanging some nice visuals, affirmation cards or your favorite art. A dresser top or table is helpful for some of the Midwives supplies. Bonus points if the light can be dimmed easily! Room temperature at the time of the birth should be around 70-80 degrees for the newborn. A small space heater is helpful to toast up the room. Entrances and exits need to be clear of obstacles.
You don't have to birth on the bed! Planning a home birth means that you can birth your baby anywhere, in whatever position you're in. It is helpful however to have a cozy place to rest, and a private space to retreat to, which for most of us is our bedroom. If you are worried about making a mess or ruining your new mattress, see my blog post "Tricks of the Trade". I've got you covered. If you are planning a waterbirth it is nice to have a nearby place to "land" once you get out of the tub, before making the trek to your own bed. I have had some clients use air mattresses, sofa beds, or a couch.
Having a toilet and sink on the same floor is invaluable, especially for the first 24 hours. You will be drinking lots of fluids and will need to keep your bladder as empty as possible. I highly recommend avoiding stairs for the first 24 hours, especially if you have a postpartum tear.
It is completely up to you to decide if you want your children present for your labor and birth. If you plan to have them there it is important to prepare them for the possibilities. Older children may be interested in the mechanics of birth and understand more. You know your children best. For younger children look for books about home birth. One of my favorites is called Hello Baby by Jenni Overend. It is beautifully illustrated and has a sweet storyline that kids can easily relate to. Birth videos are also great, preview homebirth videos on youtube and share your favorites with your kids. Look for water births, “land” births, quiet moms, loud moms, and especially videos that include the whole family. Role play the noises labor requires. Roar, grunt, groan, moan, howl. Make noises together. Remind the kids over and over that you may make noises that are loud, and even scary, but that its normal and its what helps the baby come.
I ask my clients to have a support person for the children, even if they are to be at the birth. It is not conducive to labor to have to parent in labor. Their job is simply to meet your child's needs, and be 100% ok with that, even if it means missing the birth. Spell this out clearly with them, since in some cases support people at home births have hopes of being a spectator. Labor is quite boring for most kids, so its great if they have someone to take them to the park or other short outings. If they are going to be taken somewhere else for the birth be sure they are comfortable at the location and with the support person. Be sure to go over your routines and places your kids like to go. Discuss car seats if they are going anywhere! All of this will give you peace of mind in labor.
if you don’t think you want them there – no guilt!
Many families benefit from hiring a doula for their home birth. I LOVE DOULAS! Be sure to set up multiple interviews and get someone who you feel is experienced or knowledgeable about home birth and that you can feel comfortable with in your home. Professional labor support is priceless.
Your Midwife is not your Doula. I often provide labor support and perform tasks that a doula would but my PRIMARY role is as your Midwife, keeping you and your baby safe. If a birth becomes medical, I have TWO patients to care for. Unless there is a third person whose priority is the mother’s emotional wellbeing, those needs must temporarily go unmet. I cannot adequately address emotional wellbeing, in a medical crisis, when I am monitoring and conducting lifesaving measures on a mother, baby, or both. I just can’t. Additionally, having a third knowledgeable person with a professional attitude can be an asset to me and my assistant especially during a long labor. All of us are less tired, we can nap more frequently, and think creatively about positions and comfort measures to try. We are all on the same team, chosen by the mother and her partner(s) to be their support.
Another part of your team to consider is a birth photographer. If you want pictures or video of your birth, assign that to a specific person! Having a camera available at your labor makes it easy for your support people to take pictures for you, but don't rely on it. While most births occur without complications, your midwife and her assistant are not responsible for taking your photos. Interview around and find one whose style you like, but most importantly, who you feel comfortable with. It also helps if they understand home birth and have shot one before, since they have different highlights and flow than a hospital birth.
Disclaimer: This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.