The number of families considering and choosing to give birth at home is increasing. For low-risk people, home birth is a safe and healthy alternative to hospital birth. There are many differences between a home and hospital birth, including how you prepare for each one. Some of the things you don't need to consider for a hospital birth (because they are decided for you) are the very things that compel people to choose a home birth. The following list offers some basic, but key, guidelines for your needs during home birth.
Choosing who will be present for your birth is relevant for both home and hospital birth, but perhaps even more critical for home birth where there are no rules or limitations on the number of visitors. Regardless of who thinks they "belong" at your birth, you have the ultimate say on who you allow into your sacred environment. Consider the fact that even if someone who promises to stay out of the way or in a separate room will carry a particular energy that can affect your mental and emotional state during birth. If you're in doubt, err on the side of keeping your environment as private and intimate as possible.
To further protect your space, make a sign for your front/back doors for when you go into labor so as to keep even a potential postal person's knock quiet. Your partner, doula, and midwives can also help serve as -- quite literal -- gatekeepers during your labor and birth.
Included as part of the home birth DIY charm, you'll need to stock a list of supplies in advance of your due date. Check first with your midwife to see what's recommended and by when. Ideally, you'll have everything ready to go by around 36 weeks. Check out this sample list of supplies from Verywell Family.
Many people who choose home birth want the option of a water birth and therefore rent a birthing tub. Check first with your midwife to discuss options and recommendations for a rental. If you are renting a tub, you will need to purchase a disposable liner (unless it comes with one).
When choosing the space for your birthing tub, consider things like having enough room around the tub for others, the type of flooring underneath (if that is a concern for you), and the general atmosphere and temperature of the room. This article from North Star Midwifery describes in more detail how to set up your birth tub.
Ah, food. How and what you will nourish yourself and those around you during and after your home birth is so important for sustaining energy and promoting healthy recovery. In your planning, make two lists -- one for labor/birth (include things to feed yourself, your support person(s), and your midwives) and one for postpartum. For postpartum meals, cook meals in advance that freeze and reheat easily, and set up a meal train that family members, friends, and neighbors can join.
If possible, plan to clean or have your house cleaned prior to the end of your third trimester in advance of your birth. Pay special attention to your bathroom, kitchen, and the room where you plan to give birth.
You'll also want to think about the ways in which you will have your house cleaned up after you give birth. Some people purchase special protective bedding for their home birth in order to protect the mattress. Talk to your doula and midwives about how they can help to clean up after your home birth. Often, they are instrumental in helping get your house back to pre-labor/birth condition.
If you will have older siblings present for your home birth, you'll need to plan for child care during your labor and birth so that you, your partner/support, and professional team can focus on the work of labor and birth. You can hire what's known as a "sibling doula" whose job it is to care for other children during a birth. Your regular sitter or nanny also is an option.
While the preparation for home birth does take a bit more planning and preparation than hospital birth, most people will tell you the experience was well worth the effort.