So, you’ve done your research, and you’ve decided to have a home birth. Planning your baby’s birth is such an exciting time! But, as you know, birthing a baby is also hard work – we’ve compiled a short list of ways you can help yourself achieve your goal of having a home birth:
Choose the Right Care Provider for You
One of the key things to consider when you are planning your birth is who you will work with as your home birth care provider. In most cases, this will be a midwife. Choosing a midwife who is a comfortable fit for you in terms of philosophy and personality is important, and finding one who is competent and experienced in home birth midwifery care is even more so.
Take a Natural Childbirth Class
Even though it is true that our bodies are made to birth and know just what to do, our brains can sometimes get in the way. Luckily, there is a vast array of options for childbirth classes out there to help you get mentally prepared for birth, and you are sure to find a good fit. Sometimes, your midwife may offer her own classes – for example, we offer a short, 3-week home birth class that is free for our clients. We definitely encourage any of our clients who hasn’t had a natural birth before to take our class or someone else’s. Preparation gives you a serious advantage as you head into your birth.
Prepare Your Space
Remember how your body knows just what to do? One of the things we would do if our instincts were our guides would be to find a safe, secluded, private space to birth our babies. Keep this in mind as you prepare your home to be your birth space. In addition to the checklist of prep info your midwife has given you and the shopping list for your birth kit, you will want to think about how you will keep the atmosphere nice and calm during your labor. One thing you can do is to make sure that the people who will be present will serve a role of support for you – and that you really want them there. You should not invite people into your birth space out of any sense of obligation. This day is about you and your baby, and it’s not a performance for family or friends. Keep your needs at the forefront.
On the topic of who you will want at your birth, you might consider a doula. A doula offers professional labor support, and can be an excellent team member to help you reach your goals.
Don’t Pay Attention to Labor Too Soon
It’s the middle of the night, and you feel the first twinges of labor contractions – what should you do? In most cases, you will want to try to continue to rest and sleep for as long as you can, to conserve your energy. Labor can be quite long for some people, and you don’t want to set yourself up for exhaustion by losing a night of sleep right at the outset. Remember, the uterus is a muscle that can get tired, just like all of the other muscles in your body – a rested body means a rested uterus that is better able to tackle the important work ahead. The same applies during the day – if it’s early in labor, go about your regular routine and activities. Make sure to check in with your midwife according to the instructions you have discussed so that she can keep an eye on your labor progress, and be ready to head over to your home when the time is right.
Have a Labor Pool Available
A labor pool is such an important tool for a natural birth. Even if you don’t intend to birth in the water, for some people, a pool or tub makes all the difference in terms of comfort and pain relief during the first stage of labor. Hydrotherapy has been shown to decrease the sensation of pain with contractions, and increase relaxation, both of which can be essential in labor progress and achieving an unmedicated birth.
Eat and Drink
Birthing a baby is a huge physical event. Imagine doing any other kind of athletic endurance challenge without eating or drinking? It sounds preposterous, and it is. Eating to hunger and drinking to thirst can help you keep your energy up during your labor. You will need this energy to keep your body at optimal function as your uterus works to open and push your baby out. Plus, being hungry is not a comfortable sensation in the best of circumstances, but especially when you are working hard.
We hope these tips help you along on your journey to achieving your birth goals. As always, education is key – we encourage you to read and explore further on natural birth and birthing at home.