Should you prepare for a home birth? While it is true that you are more likely to have a natural birth when birthing at home, there are still many things that you can do ahead of time to prepare for a fabulous experience. In truth, a home birth requires just as much preparation as any other birth. Here are five tips on how to prepare for a home birth.
Step 1- Carefully choose your midwife-
All midwives are not created equally. They vary in their qualifications, certifications, experience, and even legality from one state to the next. It is important to know what your midwife has to offer and if that is what you want and feel comfortable with for your birth. (This post has a list of questions to ask a home birth midwife.)
Some women really crave a motherly confidant, others somebody who totally trusts birth. Some women prefer somebody with a similar faith to them, while other women are most concerned with emergency supplies and skills.
Here are some things that may be important to you as you choose a home birth midwife:
~Applicable medical skills, experience or certification. Asking about their skill and ability in resuscitation of the newborn, stopping hemorrhage both with pharmaceuticals and with herbs, suturing, and starting an IV, are all important.
~Relationship and connection. Pick somebody who you not only trust to handle any emergency that might pop up, but who you also like and feel comfortable while very vulnerable.
~Experience and education are important. Where did she receive training? How many births has she attended? Is she CPR certified? Can she start an IV easily? Do those things matter to you? What laws governing midwifery care will apply to your birth? What is she uncomfortable or unskilled at? Will these things merit transfer? This link has a basic break down on the different types of midwives and what they do.
Step 2- Take a good birth preparation class-
There is a pervasive idea that you don't need a class if you birth at home because nobody is standing at the ready with an epidural in your house.You still have to labor and birth no matter where or how you have your baby. For this reason, a comprehensive childbirth class is an important part of preparing for a home birth. Knowledge is powerful, not just in improving your experience, but in helping you be more prepared for any outcome possible.
There are many reasons a home birthing couple can still benefit from a childbirth class.
~It prepares dad. Not all dads are excited to read volumes in preparation for a home birth, but a class can be incredibly beneficial in communicating that information in a fun and informative way. A birth class that prepares him well can do heaps of good not just for his comfort, but also your enjoyment of the birth. It is a sad truth that sometimes the birthing woman feels a little resentful of a clueless partner after a hard labor and many a dad feels useless and helpless when he isn't prepared. (We love this post full of photos of incredible birth partner dads. Birth can be an empowering experience for both people in the relationship!)
~Many women, even those who home birth, need to learn to relax. They also may need to learn how to navigate the hospital system in case of transfer. Sometimes a transfer to the hospital is necessary. This doesn't happen too often, but the experience can be much less traumatic if your birth class also prepared you for things outside of your plan. In fact, our resident midwife advisory board member has noticed that her clients transfer less often if they are well prepared with a Birth Boot Camp class.
Step 3- Prepare your home-
Home birth requires mom to prepare some things in advance on the home front. Even if you have helpful family and friends, it is still nice to have an organized house with lots of things set aside in the freezer.
One of the most helpful things you can do is prepare or purchase meals in advance before your home birth. This can be fairly painless if you simply choose one meal a week to double in the months leading up to your birth. Using a disposable pan for the mean going in the freezer can make clean up after baby even easier.
Some recipes that can work well are: shepherd's pie, homemade macaroni and cheese, stuffed bell peppers, lasagna, and enchiladas, chicken and rice with veggies, or various soups. Even if you have numerous meals delivered by friends and loved ones after the birth of your baby,you may have a few days before anybody knows you had a baby where those frozen meals come in handy. In addition, after the baby comes and the meals have stopped, it is nice to have something ready for those days when baby needs extra attention and feeding.
Getting your birth kit ready and organized in an easy to access place, having a clean bathroom and clean sheets (with a spare), having your midwives number programmed into your phone (and your partner's phone) are all additional ways you can prepare your home for the new baby.
Step 4- Take healthy pregnancy nutrition and exercise seriously-
Another important part of preparing for a home birth is nutrition and exercise. It is amazing the impact our own nutrition and exercise can have on the comfort and low risk status of our pregnancy and birth. Choosing to birth anywhere means you are responsible for preparing your healthy body and staying low risk. If the words "eat healthy" or "exercise" frighten you a little, your birth class will be incredibly helpful on this front too. The food log contained in your workbook and the incredible exercise program developed by Katie Dudley for Birth Boot Camp, are helpful for both the beginner and the expert.
You can get started now with a few of the many pregnancy exercises that Katie covers, by reading this blog post. She has also found great relief for women through foam rolling. You can read more about foam rolling during pregnancy here.
Step 5- Hire a doula-
A doula is a welcome addition to a hospital birth, but they are also an asset in a home birth setting. The time that your doula spends with you before the birth during visits, during the birth, and after during the postpartum period, is not just helpful, it can be sanity saving. The time of labor and birthing is a time in life where more support is always needed.
At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we strive to also give our doulas exceptional education regarding breastfeeding and how to succeed. This knowledge on the part of your doula is one of the greatest skills she brings postpartum.
No matter where you are planning on having your baby, education, trusted relationships, nutrition and exercise, a prepared home, and a supportive doula are a wonderful addition to your preparations. Birth is designed to be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Embrace it.