Home births have been slowly on the rise since 2012.1 With more women doing their research, watching documentaries such as The Business of Being Born, and talking to other women about their birth stories, more are choosing to give birth outside of the hospital. (Of course, this is only recommended to low-risk, healthy women and babies.) Being a healthy and low-risk pregnant woman myself, I have also decided to skip the hospital and have my babies at home. I’ve been meeting with my midwife regularly, taking Bradley Method classes, reading lots of pregnancy and birth books, and—of course—after attending hundreds of births in homes and hospitals as a doula over the years, I feel more prepared and comfortable to welcome our sweet baby in the comfort of our home.
But what do you need when you give birth at home? There are TONS of lists when it comes to “what to pack in your hospital bag.” And recently, we shared what you need to pack for a birth center birth. But what do you really need if you are having a home birth? You really don’t need too much, but there are some things that you should get that can help make things much easier and overall better for you and your birth team. I’ve been getting everything ready for our home birth, and I’m sharing my complete list of everything you will need for your home birth too.
Labor at a Home Birth
Here are the things that you will need to have with you when you’re in labor:
1. Lip balm
There’s a lot of breathing when you’re in active labor. It’s common for women’s lips to become dry and chapped, becoming an annoyance and really uncomfortable. That’s the last thing a laboring mama needs; another thing making us uncomfortable during contractions.
2. Birth ball and/or peanut ball
3. Massage oil or lotion
Your support person should have something to massage you with. Massage can help you relax those tense muscles as you breathe through each contraction.
Your birth team will use the thermometer to check the water temperature—if you decide to labor in the tub or have a water birth.
5. Massage tools
As a massage therapist, my hands are used to working nonstop, but your partner or support person may feel differently. Have some tools that can help him/her out to keep you comfortable. These massage therapy balls are great for counter pressure and deep tissue massage, which help relax your tense muscles, especially swollen feet, achy hips, and tired lower back.
6. Birth outfit
I am going to be wearing a bralette and a sarong when I’m in labor.
7. Crockpot & tongs
Your midwife can use the crockpot to warm washcloths to use on your perineum to support those tissues and help them to stretch during pushing. The water can get hot, so the tongs will help her not burn her hands!
8. 1-2 dozen white washcloths
Washcloths are great for hot and cold compresses on your forehead, neck, shoulders, and lower back during labor. The majority of them will be used on your perineum for support during pushing.
9. Support person and/or doula
Laboring is so much easier when you are surrounded by love and support.
10. Heating pad and/or rice socks
Heat is a great way to relieve discomfort. It’s great to sit on a heating pad and have it on your perineum while you labor, as well as have a rice sock on your lower back.
11. 1 small unopened bottle of olive oil
Your midwife will need an unopened bottle of olive oil (for sanitary reasons) for when you start pushing. This will be used to help your perineum stretch when giving birth.
12. 1 cookie sheet
Your midwife will have tools that she will need during your labor and delivery. To keep everything together and clean, have a cookie sheet out for her to have all of her tools easy to access. If you decide to move to a different room in your house to labor or push, that will help her transfer everything in one trip.
13. Essential oils
- Peppermint can help with nausea
- Lavender can help with relaxation and headaches
- Clary Sage can help increase contractions
- Citrus oils can help give you energy
- Frankincense can help protect your skin and perineum.
Immediate Postpartum at a Home Birth
When you’re in the hospital, they have everything there that you need for recovery. Of course, they will charge you for everything you are given and use, so use it all! But since you’re at home, you will need to have those recovery items with you. Luckily, Earth Mama makes it super simple with their products. They have amazing products that you’ll need, and you can feel good knowing that all of their items are safe for you and your baby.
If you don’t know about Earth Mama, they believe in the natural process of birth and nature’s healing power. This is something that really spoke to me since I am preparing for my natural home birth. Their mission is to provide safe, herbal alternatives for pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women and babies of all ages and to help educate people about traditional plant medicine and safe personal care. They manufacture natural and organic products that work, combining generations of women’s wisdom and traditional plant medicine with the safety and assurances of contemporary evidence-based research. If it doesn’t measure up to Mama’s standards, it doesn’t leave their building. I know that my baby and I are safe and well taken care of when choosing any of their amazing products. This is why I’m a big fan. Here is everything that you’ll need right after you have your baby:
1. Bottom balm
You just pushed out your baby boy or baby girl. Congratulations! Your bottom will probably be quite sore from all the stretching caused by pushing out a tiny human, and you might potentially (or inevitably) have hemorrhoids. You’ll need something that will provide fast relief and healing to that sensitive area. Earth Mama’s Organic Perineal Balm will do just the trick. It’s made with an herbal cream blend of organic witch hazel and rich organic botanicals traditionally used to soothe, cool, and provide perineal relief before and after childbirth. It’s recommended that you keep it in your refrigerator for extra cooling. Apply 2-3 times a day. Your bottom will thank you!
2. Bottom spray
Along with their perineal balm, this herbal perineal spray is equally amazing. When you use them together, it’s heaven. I highly recommend using both daily. The Herbal Perineal Spray is made with cooling cucumber, organic witch hazel, and rich organic botanicals traditionally used for postpartum relief. It also has no artificial fragrance or preservatives and helps soothe perineal discomfort before and after childbirth. Apply 2-3 times a day as well and store in the refrigerator for extra cooling.
3. Postpartum bath herbs
After giving birth, it’s incredibly soothing and healing to take a postpartum herb bath. I love the Earth Mama Organic Herbal Sitz Bath because they are USDA Certified 100% organic, and there are six individual herbal sachets inside the box. That makes it easy to use and much easier to clean up. No one wants to clean out the herbs from your tub before it drains.
4. 1 bottle of Ibuprofen
This will help with the afterpains of childbirth.
5. Nursing outfits/pajamas for after delivery
After you have your baby, you need to have some outfits or pajamas that are nursing-friendly for easier breastfeeding access.
6. Pads and/or Depends Silhouettes
After you have a baby, there can be a lot of blood. Remember, you did just give birth. The placenta was attached to your uterus, and the place where it was attached now needs to heal. Your uterus is also trying to get back to its original plum-shaped size, so it will be contracting and shedding blood to do just that. This is why large pads and/or Depends can help keep you comfortable and clean during the recovery process. Padsicles are a great idea too!
7. Milkmaid Tea
Just like at a hospital birth, you’ll also need to have some things ready for baby. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. 4-6 receiving blankets
Have blankets that you don’t mind getting messy. These will be used to hold baby skin-to-skin and keep baby warm after delivery.
2. 1 baby gown or outfit and socks
Your baby needs something to wear after birth.
3. 1-2 baby hats
This helps keep the baby’s head warm.
4. Pack of newborn diapers
For obvious reasons.
For Baby’s First Bath at Home
Once you are ready to give your baby their first bath, Earth Mama has a safe body wash and shampoo for you to use. It was formulated by a nurse and herbalist and is chosen by hospital NICUs because it is mild enough for super delicate baby skin and hair. There are no artificial fragrances or preservatives, Triclosan, phthalates, parabens, or harsh sulfates, which we love! It’s gentle and perfect for your little one who has just entered the world.
Their baby lotion and baby oil are also wonderful. The lotion is made of a moisturizing blend of gentle calendula-rich ingredients that comforts and soothes sensitive, delicate skin. The baby oil is made of a naturally effective grape seed baby oil blend infused with moisturizing organic calendula. It’s so safe that hospitals use it for infant massage on NICU babies! It’s reassuring to know that Earth Mama is a brand that we can trust since they will only use the best ingredients.
If you’re unfamiliar with baby’s first poop, meconium, it is black, tar-like, and very sticky. I am going to be using Earth Mama’s #1 best-selling salve Baby Diaper Balm. It’s a naturally vegan blend of synergistically beneficial herbs like organic calendula, organic tea tree oil, organic chickweed, organic shea butter, and pure essential oils. Zinc and lanolin-free, and also safe for cloth diapers! I will be applying a thin coat of this ointment to the diaper area right after birth (to wipe away that sticky meconium easily), after each diaper change, and after bath time.
Home Birth Clean Up
Luckily you don’t have to do the cleaning even though you are giving birth at home. You just had a baby! Your midwife and your birth team will help keep things tidy and will clean up afterward. Here is what you need for them to help do that:
1. 1 box of trash bags
2. 1 roll of paper towels
3. 6-8 soft bath towels (preferably old)
When you’re giving birth at home, you will need many towels, especially if you plan on laboring in and out of the tub and shower. They will need those towels to keep you comfortable and keep your home clean.
4. 2 plastic shower curtain liners
One shower curtain will be placed under your sheets over your mattress to protect your bed, and the other will be placed on the floor between the bed and the bathroom or your birth pool and the bathroom. This will protect any blood or fluids from dripping on your floors or carpet!
5. 1 large bottle of hydrogen peroxide
If blood does so happen to get on your carpet or other items, hydrogen peroxide is the best, quickest way to get it out.
6. 1 large pack of underpads or bed pads
If your water breaks or you have some bloody show, this will protect your bed.
7. 2 flat sheets
After you have your baby, your birthing team will remake your bed with fresh linens.
8. 4-6 pillowcases
LOTS of pillows are used during labor. They also want you to have some fresh pillowcases on your pillows after you have your baby.
9. 1 big bowl
This is used for your wet/dirty washcloths.
10. 1 container of cleaning wipes
This will keep your home clean and disinfect everything that you may have used or been around.
There’s the whole list of what you need for your home birth. As you can see, there are quite a few things that you have to search for. I hope this article has taken the searching and guesswork out of finding safe and effective products that you need for birth and baby. You’re all set!