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Home Birth Prep: 7 Steps to Make Sure You’re Ready

Giving birth at home is a beautiful thing…and it also takes a lot of prep work. Find out the 7 steps you can take to prepare for a home birth that is all you hope for.

pregnant woman sitting next to baby supplies and checking items off a birth prep list

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With so much to do and so much advice pouring in, it’s hard to know what to focus on during pregnancy. That difficulty is just compounded when you’re planning a home birth and it’s on you to gather supplies, prepare your space, and get your body ready for labor.

How do you get all that done without losing your mind or missing something important?

Simple. Follow my 7 Steps to a No-Regrets Home Birth.

You can download the full ebook for FREE in the box below. While that’s landing in your inbox, keep reading and I’ll outline each step in this blog post.

Home Birth Prep: Two Prerequisites

Before we get to the seven steps, it’s important that I point out two things.

If these two things aren’t in place before you give birth at home, it’s far less likely that you’ll have a good experience and have no regrets.

First and foremost, you need to know that a home birth is the right choice for you and for this pregnancy. That is more important than anything else.

If you seek that confirmation first and feel confident about choosing a home birth, you can trust in and rely on that when people try to dissuade you or when you’re in the middle of labor and things get hard.

It will also give you the strength to trust that you made the right choice, even if things don’t go as planned.

Second,  you need to acknowledge and work through your fears and other negative emotions. 

I strongly believe that the emotions we feel affect our bodies. That means that if you’re feeling all kinds of negative emotions during labor, complications are far more likely to arise.

For that reason, you need to work through your feelings about birth and motherhood – and maybe other things too – long before labor begins.

Those feelings might include emotions such as

  • fear of the birth process,
  • doubt about your ability to be a good mother, 
  • frustration with your spouse or partner because of the way you think he’ll parent, 
  • worries about breastfeeding, 
  • anger or sadness at the supposed loss of freedom that having kids might bring, 

and much more.

If you acknowledge and work through those hard things before labor begins and before you have a newborn to care for, I guarantee you’ll make life that much easier for yourself postpartum

The Keys to “No-Regrets”

These two things – knowing that a home birth is the right choice and addressing your negative emotions – truly are the keys to a “no-regrets” home birth. If you start with these, the 7 steps you’re about to learn will be much more effective.

How to Prepare for Home Birth: 7 Steps

These 7 steps are best done in order. But, as you’ll see, there will be some overlap because several of them are things you’ll do continuously throughout pregnancy.

These are the things I personally did in preparing for my home birth with my first daughter. I learned them from my midwife and from other trusted sources. If you do your best to use these steps to prepare for your home birth, you – yes, you – really can have a beautiful, happy, no-regrets home birth.

Step 1: Pick Your Support Person

The biggest reason I was able to do my home birth and have such a good experience was because my husband, Nate, was right by my side through all of it. That’s why I made “pick your support person” the first step in preparing for a home birth.

Your support person isn’t your primary care provider (i.e. it’s not your midwife or OBGYN). Your support person is someone who probably isn’t medically trained but is someone you are completely comfortable with who can help in any way you need during labor, be it physical or emotional.

You can learn more about choosing your support person and how beneficial having one is in Why You Need a Support Person at Your Birth.

Sometimes women choose a trained birth doula, rather than a family member or a friend, as their support person. Check out What is a Doula? to learn all about birth doulas.

Step 2: Hire a Midwife You Trust

Of all the steps you take to prepare for your home birth, this may be the one that makes the biggest difference in how your birth plays out. 

Choosing a midwife is a simple choice, yet it also implies several mini choices. 

First, you’ll need to figure out what kind of midwife you want to hire. (There are four different types.)

Then you’ll want to pick a few that fit in that category and “interview” them to see if you jive well and if it seems like it would be a good fit. (To find ideas of what to ask in those interviews, check out 65 Questions to Ask a Midwife Before Hiring Her.)

By the way, if you’re here because you’re curious but you still aren’t sure about midwives and home births, you may want to check out Midwife or OBGYN: Which is Right For Me? (15 Questions to Help You Decide).

Step 3: Take a Bradley Childbirth Class

In order to give birth unmedicated and have a good experience, you have to prepare during pregnancy. One of the best ways to prepare is to take a Bradley Childbirth class. 

There are a LOT of childbirth classes out there, I know. I compare the three big names – Lamaze, Bradley, and HypnoBirthing – in Choosing a Natural Childbirth Class: Comparing the Big 3.

I recommend The Bradley Method for several reasons. 

First, it’s the most comprehensive class you’ll find. It’s taught in 12 sessions over 12 weeks. (I know that seems long, but trust me, it’s worth it.) It’s also well-established – it’s been around for decades – and maintains the same philosophy and method over time.

The two biggest reasons I like The Bradley Method, though, are 1) its focus on training dad to be mom’s main support person and 2) the emphasis it puts on educating women about the risks inherent in the medications and interventions that are so common in hospitals.

To learn more, check out these blog posts:

Medications During Labor: Is It Worth the Risk?

The Cascade of Interventions [Explained]

Step 4: Eat Everything You and Your Baby Need

Nutrition is everything when it comes to a healthy baby, a healthy you, and a safe, effective labor and birth. From the start of your pregnancy, make it your goal to eat well every day. 

I recommend The Brewer Diet. Though it can feel like a lot at first (trust me, I struggled at the beginning too), I promise it’s worth it. What you eat affects everything, from how you feel during pregnancy to if you give birth prematurely to how well you recover postpartum. 

I also LOVE Lily Nichols’ work. Her book Real Food for Pregnancy is phenomenal. It’s all backed by research and you won’t find a better source for all things prenatal nutrition. You can buy the book on her website to support her or get it on Amazon.

Step 5: Establish Your Routine for Labor Exercises and Stretches

In addition to feeding your body, you need to move your body. Exercise of any kind is good for you and your baby. I talk about some of the benefits in The Best At-Home Pregnancy Workouts.

But in addition to normal exercise, there are some specific exercises and stretches that will help your body be ready for labor. The five main ones are squats, kegels, pelvic tilts, butterflies, and tailor sitting. I explain each one in depth in 6 Exercises to Prepare Your Body for Labor.

Generally, the goal with each of these is to strengthen or to stretch the muscles that are going to be supporting you during labor. 

Once you’ve learned about the exercises, it’s time to make your plan. Pick a specific time you can commit to every day and keep that commitment to yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Step 6: Practice Coping Methods

I think one reason people can’t understand why any woman would choose a home birth (or any unmedicated birth) is that they don’t realize we aren’t going into it without any tools for coping.

One of the keys to a good home birth experience is learning during pregnancy what coping methods are available to you and practicing the ones you feel will help you most.

With all the lists of coping techniques out there, it may seem a bit overwhelming. That’s why I like to divide them into just 5 categories: movement, touch, self-calming, words, and environment.

Each category includes several different things you can practice to make labor a little easier and a little more comfortable. To learn about all of them, check out How to Cope With Contractions: Natural Pain Relief During Labor.

Step 7: Set the Stage

Step 7 is the one most people think of when they think about preparing for a home birth. Obviously, there’s more to it (hence the first 6 steps). But step 7 is still important, so it definitely needs to be included. 

This is the part where you start to gather supplies and start to prepare your birth space.

This is the fun step. It’s also one that takes a lot of work.

First of all, there are some essentials you’ll need for the actual birth and immediately after, like cord clamps and protective coverings for your bed and floors.

Some midwives provide a birth kit that includes all of those necessities. If they don’t, you can learn what you need to assemble your own in Everything You Need for a Home Birth Kit (According to a Midwife).

Aside from the things that come in a birth kit, you’ll need to gather some household supplies and make sure they’re easily accessible for when they’re needed. You can find a checklist of the supplies you’ll need in The Ultimate List of Home Birth Supplies.

In addition to the essentials, you can also decide what “extras” you want for your birth. We’re talking things like fairy lights or candles, essential oils, and music.

It’s also super important that you have plenty of food on hand. A few weeks before your estimated due date, fill your freezer with meals and snacks so that as soon as the baby arrives, you’re good to go for at least a few days (ideally longer). 

Finally, make sure you’ve purchased all the baby and breastfeeding supplies you’ll need for those first few weeks postpartum.

READ MORE >> The Baby Registry List I Wish I’d Had

Happy Home Birth Day

And that’s that. With these 7 steps you know exactly what and how to prepare for your home birth. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect – exercising and practicing coping techniques isn’t going to happen every single day and that’s okay.

Do your best and remember why you’re doing all this: for your baby. It’s going to be worth it in the end.

Until next time,

Allison

READ MORE:

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Home Birth

8 Home Birth Tips That Will Make Your Birth Even Better

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