If you are planning on birthing at home, there are some steps you can take to make your home birth the very best that it can be.
If you aren’t yet sure whether a home birth is for you, read our post that compares a home birth to a hospital birth.
Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
This post contains affiliate links, this means at no extra cost to you, we make a commission from sales. Please read
our Disclosure Statement
If you have already decided to have a home birth, I am sure you have done plenty of research already.
Educating yourself is the biggest and most important step in deciding to have a successful home birth.
Once you have chosen to have a home birth there are 10 important steps you must take to ensure that your home birth goes smoothly.
1 Get Support
The three most important people at a home birth is you, your birthing partner and your midwife.
A midwife is a trained professional specialized in birth. Midwifes can attend home births and they carry all the emergency equipment needed in case of emergency.
Obviously you will need to like and trust your midwife, but nothing beats experience. Look for a midwife with plenty of home birthing experience, who is confident when emergencies occur and is supportive of your decision to deliver at home.
When choosing a midwife, don’t be afraid to ask her about her experience and her credentials.
2 Get Prepared
You need to have your home birth supplies set up well in advance. You can birth at home anywhere from 36 or 37 weeks, so ideally you would have everything ready well before then.
You will need the following supplies:
- Disposable waterproof pads
- Maternity pads
- Witch hazel gel or cooling maternity pads
- Peri Bottle
- Baby hats
- Baby outfit
- Stretch underwear
- Soft tape measure
- Gauze squares
- Herbal Afterbirth Bath
- Flexible Drinking Straws or a good drink bottle
- Alcohol prep pads
- Plastic cord clamps
- Sterile scissors
- Lip balm
- Olive or coconut oil for massage
- Big bowl for the placenta
- A fan
- A heater
- Digital thermometer
- Postpartum spray
- Plastic backed sheets or large table cloths
- Tarpaulin or polythene
- Birthing pool
- Birthing pool liner (if hiring a pool)
- Tap adapter or faucet connector
- Pump to empty the pool
- 10 Old towels
- 10 Receiving blankets
- 10 Face cloths
- A set of old or cheap bed sheets
- Music, essential oils, candles if desired
- High energy snacks
- A phone list
- Camera and charged batteries
- A packed hospital bag just in case
- A vomit bowl
- Fish net (if planning a water birth)
- Birthing ball
Have you heard that Amazon has a baby registry that will send you a free box of goodies, and special discounts just for you and baby? You can make a list of everything you want and then share it with your friends and family!
3 Ready your room
One of the best things you can do to prepare for a home birth is to set your bed up. It is pretty easy. Make your bed with nice fresh sheets. Then cover the bed with a waterproof mattress protector, shower curtains or other water proofing then make your bed with old or cheap sheets over the top.
This means that if you decide to use the bed for labor, you only have to strip the dirty stuff off and your bed is fresh and new and ready to go!
4 Prepare the older children
If you decide to have a grandparent come and help with the kids at home, or to take the kids away for the labor is entirely up to you. You know yourself and your children best, you do what you think is best for your family.
There is no right or wrong choice. Some people decide to let the older ones stay and send the younger ones away for the labor and delivery. If you are super lucky, they might just sleep through the whole thing.
Don’t discredit your children, most will cope very well with labor, as long as they are prepared with what they should expect. If you decide to let the children stay home, spend some time preparing them for what is to come.
Watch some labor videos with the children and be prepared to explain what is happening. My children enjoy watching One Born Every Minute with me, and there are a lot of home birth videos on youtube. Another great resource is this lovely book that totally normalizes home birth. We read it to the children often leading up to our own home births.
Whether your children will be around for the labor or not, they will be in the house in the days following. So grab a good selection of easy snack, simple meals and easy entertainment to keep them fed and busy.
Consider organizing some sleep overs at granny’s or Aunty’s place over the early weeks. It is also a nice thought to get someone to take the older kids shopping to buy the baby a special teddy or a keepsake.
5 Think about Pain Relief
Being a home birth you won’t have access to all the options in a hospital. But you can stock the cupboards with some Tylenol, Ibruprofen and heat packs.
A TENS machine, massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture or acupressure are options some midwives offer, ask what yours recommends.
I found great relief by following and using the Hypnobabies program, it helped me to relax and breathe deeply. A combination of that and a birthing pool was a great combination for me, and I didn’t even think about pain relief during my home birth.
6 Get your Mindset right
So much of our life is really controlled by our thinking. Our mind is a powerful thing. I am by no means an airy fairy, wishy washy person, but I do see it time and again in the hospital, what you believe is often what results.
In my 14 years of experience, I have noticed that positive people with a positive outlook are much less likely to suffer complications from major bowel surgery than those that are pathetic and play the victim.
So get in control and get in the right mindset. Ina May Gaskin’s book ‘Guide to Childbirth’ is a MUST READ. Watch lots of positive homebirth videos, read lots of home birth stories and focus on having the positive birth that you want.
One of the things I really appreciated about the Hypnobabies program was the birth visualization. I know it sounds crazy, but it worked. For baby number 2 I visualized my waters breaking on a Sunday after church and having her quickly. My waters broke at 1pm (at my inlaws!), labor started at 3 and I had her at 4.05!
With baby number 3 I needed labor to be a little longer, and happen in the night so that my other 2 would sleep through it. Labor started at 2:30am and he was born at 4:20am exactly 20 minutes after the midwife arrived.
7 Set the atmosphere
- Who do you want at your labor?
- What do you want them to say, be or do?
- What music do you want playing?
- Do you want it loud or soft?
- Motivating or relaxing?
- Do you want aromatherapy on?
- If so, what smell?
- How bright or dark do you want your room?
- What sort of lighting will you use?
- How will you heat your room?
Who is going to set all this up while you are in the throws of labor? Maybe write a list for your birthing partner of what you need done and when.
8 Practice the home birth set up
Having a quick run though is a really good idea. Blowing up that pool might look easy, but it won’t be as straight forward as it looks. You can pre-inflate the pool and store it out of the way if you like.
Check that hose connectors actually connect and that you will have enough hot water for what you need.
Keep all your supplies in a few tubs with labels of what is in them somewhere within easy reach, or better yet, on a shelf where everything can be seen at once.
9 Write a birth plan
You will have talked through all your plans with your midwife, but remember that it is not the only labor she is thinking about and planning at the moment.
Write a birth plan out and stick it somewhere obvious, with the key points nice and obvious, and be prepared to be flexible and change the plan as labor is fairly unpredictable.
Make sure your birthing partner/s have read through the plan and know what your desires are.
During labor you always have a choice. Here is the B.R.A.I.N method for talking with practitioners and making decisions.
B IS FOR BENEFITS
How will this help my pregnancy?
How will this help my baby?
How will this help my labor?
How will this help me?
How will this help my family?
R IS FOR RISKS
How will this affect my baby?
How will this affect my labor?
How will this affect me?
What are the risks of not doing this?
What are the risks of further complications if I say yes?
How common is this risk? What are the statistics?
Are the risks directly related to your particular level of experience and knowledge?
What harm is there if we wait?
A IS FOR ALTERNATIVES
What are the alternatives to this procedure/medication/course of action?
What are the benefits and risks of the alternatives?
Is there someone else I can speak to?
Is there something we could try first?
I IS FOR INTUITION AND INFORMATION
What is my/our gut feeling about this?
What do you see that tells you we need to do this?
What is the medical indication here?
Why do you feel this is necessary?
N IS FOR NEED TIME/ NOT NOW THANKS
Is this an emergency?
I need time to think this choice through
I need a private moment to discuss with my family
I would like to wait for now
No thank you.
I have made a decision to decline this treatment
Grab our printable BRAIN list for FREE here:
10 Prepare the house for a home birth
A stocked kitchen and a freezer full of prepared meals is crucial to surviving labor and the early postpartum period. Try some of these freezer meal ideas for inspiration.
Stock the cupboards with easy, healthy snacks like nuts, bliss balls, jerky and fruit.
Pack an emergency bag for the hospital.
Put a list of phone numbers together and stick them on the fridge.
Put your partner and midwife on speed dial on your phone.
Grab a contraction tracking app for your phone so you can watch your labor’s progress. Usually a midwife wants you to phone once your contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute.
Set yourselves up for some evenings at home – get some movies, favorite comedy series and board games.
How to have a Successful Home Birth
Having a successful home birth requires getting emotionally ready, armed with knowledge and get a strong support team around you. Then you need to prepare your home and family for the home birth and grab all the supplies you need for a successful home delivery.