Preparing For A Home Birth
There are certain things you should consider when preparing for a home birth. From practical concerns to personal preferences, you should be prepared well BEFORE you go into labor.
Whether you've already settled on having a home birth or you are researching your birthing options, there are certain things to consider. Following are some of the preparations you should make when planning a home birth. Some are similar to those you would make for a hospital birth, but most will be specific to birthing at home.
1. The first thing you should do when considering a home birth is inform yourself about the pros and cons. Make sure you are completely comfortable with your decision.
2. Once you are certain that birthing at home is right for you, find out what your state or country's legal stance is on homebirth. While it is most likely perfectly legal to birth at home, it may not be legal for a trained professional to attend your birth at home. (This doesn't mean there won't be someone in your area willing to do it.)
3. Find out if your insurance plan covers a home birth.
4. Find a birthing attendant. There are some obstetricians who will attend a home birth, but most likely you will need to find a midwife. This is the preferred choice for many women. You might also consider enlisting the services of a doula. Make sure you have two qualified birth attendants in case both you and the baby need attention at once.
5. Consider your options for pain management. Although in some cases pain medication is available to mothers birthing at home, in most cases this option is not available. Many women who choose homebirth do so, in part, because they wish to avoid medical intervention. When planning a birth in any setting, you should prepare yourself for a potentially painful labor.
Preparing for Labor
Take a birthing class. Some available types of classes include: Lamaze, Bradley, doula or midwife taught. Your birth attendant may offer a class specifically for home birth.
Exercise. Regular exercise, such as yoga or walking, can help prepare your body for labor.
Research herbal remedies for childbirth and labor. Certain herbs are reputed to have been used for pregnancy and childbirth for centuries before any medical options became available.
Ensure that you are eating a proper diet. Proper diet can often mean the difference between an easy, uncomplicated birth and one with complications.
Practice relaxation and visualization techniques.
6. Choose a coach. Having a friend or partner you can trust is an important element in your birthing atmosphere. Determine if there are any unresolved issues which might negatively affect your state of mind during the birth. Also make sure that anyone else present at the birth is completely comfortable with your choice of birth place.
7. Be prepared for the questions and reactions of family and friends who have not done the research that you have done. Remember that their reactions are out of concern for you and the baby.
8. Have a back up plan in case of emergencies. Pre-register at the nearest hospital and have emergency phone numbers handy. Have a full tank of gasoline if you live far from the hospital.
9. Inform yourself about potential complications so that, if necessary, you can make an informed decision whether or not to transport to the hospital.
10. Consider the atmosphere in your home, and prepare it for optimum comfort once you go into labor. Make sure it is clean and that the surroundings are soothing to you. Also prepare for such things as music and lighting during the birth if you have preferences.
11. Write a birth plan for your birth attendant to read and sign. This is not as important in your home as it would be in the hospital, but you may still want to have your wishes clearly in writing. Also write out your expectations of others present at the birth. For example, if you want complete silence for the few minutes following the baby's birth, let everyone know up front.
12. Obtain the necessary supplies. Your midwife may be able to provide you with a birth kit, but here are some of the most important things you will need.
Sanitary pads, large ones
Something to mist your face with
Buckets-to sit on and for clean up
New nail brush and clippers
Waterproof pads to sit on
Heavy plastic sheet for the bed
13. Find out what necessary documentation you are responsible for regarding the birth of a baby. For instance, birth certificates and the application for a social security number are typically taken care of at the hospital when a baby is born.