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What items do you really need for a home birth?

woman in a home birth with newborn

Now that the home birth service is reinstated across Nottingham it might be a good time to look into your options for a gorgeous home birth! You might be surprised to here that this is actually a very safe option (just as safe as hospital, and safer in many ways) I’ll even link at the end to some research to back this up.

People often ask me what you need for a home birth in terms of supplies… and I guess the short answer is very little. As long as you have somewhere warm, with a water supply, food and support… the rest is all within you! But there are some things that make it more comfortable, so I have broken it down into several categories, have a read through and do let me know if you have anything you would add!

stack of towels

Essential/very useful

Towels, towels, towels. And then another towel.

 More than you might think, some old ones for the floor and some nice ones for you and baby. If you are planning a water birth, you will need even more, between 6 -10 for you and 3-4 for the baby (bear in mind you may be getting in and out of pool and will need a warm dry towel each time.) You really can't have too many towels!

Plastic sheeting/cheap shower curtains - You can put these on floor/over the furniture and put towels/blankets over them to prevent slipping and make it more comfy

Blankets & Pillows - To make yourself a comfy nest

Flannels - To put cool or warm water on your head/ body

hamper full of snacks and drinks

Snacks and drinks for everyone involved - Eating and staying hydrated during labour is incredibly important so have plenty on hand for you (and for anyone supporting you!) Maybe consider prepping one of your favourite meals for early labour and have plenty of your favourite snacks (things nutrient dense, easy to digest and tasty.) Then some drinks as well, coconut water is great as well as electrolyte drinks, herbal tea… anything you fancy. As you’ll have access to a freezer you can even make some coconut or fruity ice cubes which can be a great think to suck on during labour. A little basket of snacks for anyone attending your birth is also a lovely offering.

Cosy warm clothes - It is common to get a bit shivery after birth so you need something warm and comfy to get into. Warm socks are particularly important so get those tosies cosy.

A clean container for your placenta - a big tupperware/bowl/baking dish will do. I still use the baking dish that I caught my placenta in, it gives me flashbacks every time.

Your hospital bag - Ready to go in case of a transfer, packed with all your oxytocin boosting comforts as well as all the obvious bits for you and baby.

antenatal class teaching aids on a table

Great antenatal education and a stellar birth partner! - These will both help you understand your body and prep you with tools to use to stay in your powerhouse birth zone. And a great birth partner is a non-negotiable for wherever you are planning to birth. Typically birth partners love home births (I know my husband did!) they are much more comfortable, you are on your own turf and there is far less for partners to do in terms of advocacy than in a hospital setting. And you can stay in your jim jams. If you want to get birth ready for ANY kind of birth AND make sure your birth partner knows exactly what’s going on… book onto my fabulous antenatal hypnobirthing course or get in touch to book a power hour!

Lovely extras

woman holding newborn in a birth pool

Birth Pool - Although not essential for a home birth we know water birth has so many fab benefits in terms of pain relief, relaxation and ease of mobility. It also creates a lovely little shelter around you, keeping you feeling safe and in your own little bubble which is great for oxytocin production. Some home birth teams will lend you a pool, here in Nottingham you can borrow them from the Nottingham Home Birth Facebook Group or of course you can buy or rent one from a birth pool company.

Other comfort bits - TENS Machine Warm-able Lavender/Wheat bag/hot water bottles

All really helpful for early labour as well as those gnarly after pains. Why does no one ever talk about those?!

Environmental bits – fairy lights, candles (and you can use real ones at home!) – Get that oxytocin flowing. A little birth altar with affirmations, photos and other mood boosting precious bits and bobs.

A birth ball – this is probably slightly less essential in a home birth as you have plenty of other furniture to lean over, but its still well worth getting one.

A few essential oils – Lavender is popular for relaxation, anything citrusy to give you a boost, peppermint for nausea and anything else you like. There are certain ones that may not be safe to use so always check with your friendly local essential oils specialist! You could also get a neutral massage oil and make sure your partner knows how to give you a lovely relaxing massage for labour.

Incontinence sheets/puppy pads – really useful to pop on your sofa or in your bed to catch and bodily fluids.


Really worth investing in:

woman holding hands with doula over birth pool

Expert birth support! A doula is an epic addition to your home birth team. We provide that continuity of care that is so missing in our mainstream birth culture and we can support you emotionally and physically through this awesome transformation. If you want to read more about what a doula does  and about my specific doula support packages, have a nosey below.


Side note

If you have friends or family who are feeling uneasy about your decision to home birth or you yourself are feeling undecided and perhaps you are worried that it’s a risky choice… I invite you to check out this 2019 Lancet study. This includes 500,000 women with uncomplicated pregnancies who planned a birth (yes even planning one decreases your chances of interventions!) and these were some of the findings.

woman in a birth pool having just given birth at home

Planning a home birth means you are:

40% less likely to have a caesarean birth

50% less likely to have an instrumental vaginal birth (forceps/ventouse)

55% less likely to have an episiotomy

40% less likely to have a 3rd or 4th degree tear

60% less likely to have a labour augmented with artificial oxytocin

75% less chance of getting an infection

30% less chance of postpartum haemorrhage

Interestingly the findings were similar for first births as well as subsequent, making home birth a very valid and safe choice, even if it this is your first birth.  This was not a piddly little study, this is a big systematic review of a very large pool of women. If you need to whip it out to stop your family going on about it, don’t be afraid to do so.

I am personally so pleased for the families across Nottingham who now have the choice to birth at home with an NHS midwife in attendance, and I will be preparing some of those families in my antenatal courses and attending some of them in my doula role!



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