*collaborative post – this post contains gifted items*
I am now 38 weeks pregnant with baby number 3 – 38 weeks! I am uncomfortable, grumpy a whole lot of the time and the size of a cow that has indulged in waaay too much grass. Most of all though, I am excited! It might sound strange to lots of women, especially those who have had a difficult birth in the past, but I am really looking forward to labour. There are the obvious plus points to baby girl making her move earth side: no longer feeling like I have swallowed an over inflated balloon full of cement, not having to deal with heartburn/hormones/pains every day and ,of course, I will get to meet my daughter at last. These aren’t the only reasons I am looking forward to the big day though, I am planning a homebirth and I can not wait to have a positive and empowering birth (all going to plan, of course). Over the last few weeks I have been busy getting my home prepared for my homebirth and my state of mind ready too. After all, giving birth isn’t easy wherever you do it! I have been reading up lots on hypnobirthing and getting into a relaxed, positive and confident frame of mind is essential to having a positive birth. If you are thinking about having a homebirth too, here is my check list of everything I am doing to prepare myself and my home for a natural and relaxing homebirth – fingers crossed!
Planning a homebirth – preparing for a positive birth experience checklist
Getting your home ready for a homebirth
Things to think about..
- Where will you be giving birth?
- Have you got enough space?
- How will you keep your space clean?
- How far is the hospital if you need to be transferred?
I plan to give birth in a birthing pool we have borrowed from a friend at baby group. We are using her Birth Pool in a Box, it is essentially a giant inflatable paddling pool with a seat and handles around the sides. We have had to buy a new hose and are using a new liner for hygiene reasons but the pool is perfect and so easy to inflate. We didn’t really have enough room for it in our living room so we have had to push the sofa into a corner to free up the floor space. There needs to be enough space for your midwife and your birth partner to sit around the edge of the pool , for you to get in and out easily and my midwife urged me to make sure there were no plug sockets near by.
If you plan on using a pool I would recommend doing a test run, you don’t want to be stressing about how to inflate it when you are in the middle of contractions. We have inflated our pool, checked it fits easily in the space we have made and measured the hose to be sure it can reach from the kitchen tap to the living room. We have also had to buy a tap adapter (was about £2 from Wickes) so the hose fits securely on the kitchen tap. We have now let some air out of the pool and are keeping it stored in the nursery. When it is time for baby to come we only need to top up the air, add the liner and fill it, we are hoping this is going to be a big time saver on the day.
Birth can be a messy business and even though I plan on actually delivering our daughter in the pool, I have been advised to give birth to the placenta out of the water as it is easier for the midwife to monitor blood loss and to check the placenta is intact when on dry land. We have bought a pack of absorbent bed pads and have sheets and old towels at the ready, we also have a cheap shower curtain we can put down.
I am thinking of using my CUB birth chair that I was kindly gifted to sit on after the birth, having skin to skin cuddles with my newborn and to deliver the placenta. The CUB is an inflatable birth stool and can be used during labour to keep you in a comfortable upright position. Gravity is your best friend during labour and staying upright will help encourage baby’s head to move down which helps with dilation. It makes a great place to lean over or sit/lean on with your partner if you need a little rest. I am going to set mine up in the other end of the living room with towels/ absorbent sheets underneath it for when I am out of the pool or for just in case I don’t make it into the pool for whatever reason. I really don’t want to give birth on my sofa or bed but we will be putting some towels and pad sheets down on those too – just in case!
I have got some Milton for cleaning up the CUB afterwards and any other surfaces that may have ended up with stuff on them! I am regularly cleaning the living room and rest of the house to try and keep it as clean as possible (I do have two other kids running around remember!) . I know I am never going to get it as sparkling as a hospital delivery suit but I will feel much better giving birth to a baby in a clean and tidy house rather than one where you can’t see the floor for Lego bricks and puzzles.
Choosing a homebirth was an easy decision for me as I have had two complication and intervention free waterbirths in the midwife led unit of the hospital. I am a low risk pregnancy but if anything were to go wrong we are only a five minute drive from the hospital. It is important to remember that emergencies can happen and it’s important to take into consideration the distance to the hospital when you are deciding on whether to give birth at home or not. You don’t want to have to deal with an hours car journey if you need to be transferred in the middle of labour. Have a hospital bag packed just in case. I have packed one and I think it will be useful even if we manage to stay at home the whole time, having everything organised and in one place can only be a good thing.
Getting your birth space ready for a homebirth
Things to think about
- What do you want to listen to during labour?
- What do you want to see?
- What will you want to eat and drink?
As I mentioned earlier, I have been reading a lot about hypnobirthing and this method of birth works at it’s best when you are relaxed. Hypnobirthing teachers promote the use of deep relaxation to help you deal with the pain of labour and to have a positive birth experience. During labour I am going to be listening to spa music on our Alexa to help keep me calm and relaxed. I also plan to listen to The Positive Birth Company positive birth affirmations mp3 (you can sign up to their newsletter to get your free download too), I love these as they really help me relax and fill me with the confidence I am going to need to give birth without pain relief. There are also loads of pregnancy and birth affirmations and guided relaxations on YouTube. Alternatively, you can have the TV on, your favourite album or no sounds at all, it is just important to listen to something that will help you to relax.
My plan is to labour and give birth in my living room as it is the room in the house where I feel most relaxed. I spend my evenings cuddled up on the sofa under soft blankets, with candles lit and watching TV with my husband and it is the most relaxing part of my day. I want to imitate this intimate feeling for my homebirth so there will be scented candles lit and my fairy lights will be on. If baby starts to come in the day then we will drape throws over the windows to keep the room as dark and cosy as possible, basically we want to aim for the complete opposite of a brightly lit hospital room.
I am awful at eating during labour, my appetite just disappears as soon as labour starts. I am going to make sure we have some bananas and cereal bars on hand, you never know I might just fancy a snack and would be devastated if there was nothing for me to eat. Instead of recycling water bottles I am keeping them and plan to fill them up and keep them in the fridge once I know labour has officially started. This will be such a life saver when I need a cold drink between contractions; I don’t like sports drinks but they are supposed to be great to keep your energy up during labour if you get bored with water.
Getting your mind ready for a homebirth
Things to think about
- Are you comfortable at the thought of giving birth with no pain relief?
- Do you feel confident and positive about labour?
- Do you feel informed about all aspects of giving birth at home?
- What makes you feel relaxed?
- Are you mentally prepared for a homebirth?
When it comes to pain relief, I have been a gas and air and water kind of girl in the past. The thought of an epidural has always terrified me more than any amount of pain and I never really wanted to try the other drugs like pethidine as I had heard lots of horror stories. When giving birth at home your only option for pain relief is gas and air. I have always found that the birthing pool works wonders in making labour less painful but the lack of pain relief options is definitely something you need to consider when planning your homebirth.
Hypnobirthing teaches us what is really happening to our bodies during labour and shows us that if we can remain relaxed, birth will be more comfortable and easy. A relaxed mama will release oxytocin (happy hormones!) and this will help keep blood pumping effectively to her uterus, making contractions more manageable. If you are feeling scared and vulnerable you will start to release adrenalin, this hormone is not your friend as it will reduce blood flow to your uterus, making contractions more intense and painful.
I am not a hypnobirthing teacher and hypnobirthing is not a technique you have to use if you are having a homebirth. However, I think to have a positive homebirth experience the absolute best thing you can do is to become (and remain!) as relaxed and positive about your upcoming labour as possible. Like I said, I am regularly listening to positive birth affirmations and guided birth visualisations on YouTube. These daily sessions with my headphones in are helping me to feel prepared and confident for my natural homebirth.
Your midwife will probably come and write your birth plan with you at home, this is your perfect opportunity to ask all the questions about having a homebirth that you may have. Be sure to ask as much as you feel you need to so you can get yourself prepared and so you know what to do and expect when delivery day arrives. Ask about when you should phone them, whether you need to have anything specific on hand at home, what are the risks of a homebirth and their procedures for deciding when a hospital transfer may be necessary. Remember, this is your birth and no one can make you do anything you don’t want to but it is always best to be well informed and armed with the information you will need to help you make any big decisions on the day.
When giving birth in a hospital there will be doctors around and plenty of midwives and other medically trained staff, this can provide lots of women with invaluable reassurance. Knowing there are all the right people, medication and equipment around if you come into trouble can really help some pregnant women to feel more relaxed in labour but others feel more relaxed in a homely, less clinical environment. As you won’t have a house full of doctors when giving birth at home, it is important you do all you can to stay calm and relaxed as your labour progresses; labour is much more likely to run smoothly if you are relaxed in body and mind. I am at my most relaxed when I feel safe and comfortable and my husband does both those things for me. I want to have him close by at all times and there to give me a cuddle when things start getting tough. I am hoping with my spa music playing, the room smelling of lavender candles and being dimly lit, keeping well hydrated and energised, all with my husband by my side that I will be able to remain relaxed and calm throughout my whole labour.
I highly recommend a book by The Positive Birth Company’s founder Siobhan Miller called Practical ways to make your birth better. This book has been my hypnobirthing bible, Siobhan shares all her relaxation techniques and educates you on the biology behind labour. You really learn what is going on with your body during birth and everything you can do to help it do it’s job in the most comfortable and efficient way. You will feel so empowered and ready for a homebirth by the time you have finished – I loved it!
Other things to think about if you are planning a homebirth..
- Have you sorted out childcare if you have older children that will need looking after while you are in labour?
- Have you got back up childcare in case your first choice can’t watch the kids?
- If you don’t want to buy/hire a pool, where in your home do you want to give birth?
- Have you written a birth plan/preference list and made copies for your birth partner and midwife?
- How do you want your third stage to be managed (injection or natural delivery of the placenta)?
- What do you want to happen straight after birth – delayed cord clamp, immediate skin to skin and so on..
- Have you packed a birth bag for yourself and one for your baby so you have everything ready for when baby is here or incase you have to be transferred to hospital?
- Have you made family and friends aware you are planning a homebirth so no one just shows up when you are in the middle of labour?!
Feeling a bit more prepared for getting your homebirth organised now? I hope so! I can’t wait to bring my little girl into the world from the comfort of my own home. I know I sound a bit like I have lost the plot but I am SO excited about going into labour. I don’t have much longer to wait now and I will of course be back with little lady’s birth story once she has arrived.
To any of you due to have a baby soon, I am wishing you all the luck in the world and all the best for your labour, I hope it is a positive experience for you wherever it happens.