For this blog post, we’re going to tackle one of our most frequently asked questions: Is it messy to have a home birth?
It’s a legitimate question, considering the fact that there is quite a bit of fluid involved in birth. If you have had the pleasure of witnessing a birth in a hospital, your impression of the magnitude of fluids may be even more formidable – at least, when I have witnessed births on an obstetric table/bed that is broken down with the “bag” attached to catch it all, I have been amazed at the fluid visual (and I’ve seen a whole lot of births!)
I assure you, friends, that home birth is just not this messy. Really.
For one thing, and I think this one thing may be key – your midwives are pretty much in charge of cleaning up whatever happens in terms of mess. This may be one reason that, in most cases, mess just doesn’t occur. We have a plan in place for what one of our midwifery mentors calls “fluid control.” Here’s how it works:
We have given you detailed instructions on prepping your likely birth zones, such as your bed, and your birth pool. While you will probably labor in several different parts of your home, you are most likely to end up in one of these places for the birth. Your bed will be made up with plastic under your birth sheets, and atop the sheets will be placed chux (or absorbent) pads. If you birth here, the chux pads will be underneath you, and we will be changing out your pads frequently. This keeps you more comfortable, and takes the mess away as it’s happening, before you even notice it. If you have your baby in the pool, but move to the bed to birth the placenta, it will work the same way – the pads will remain in place long enough for us to estimate your blood loss, and then they will be changed out. It is rare for anything to get on your sheets, but if there is any overflow (most likely amniotic fluid), the plastic under your sheet will be there to protect the mattress. After we’re all done, we take the plastic off, and you have fresh sheets underneath!
Now, the water birth is going to involve fewer chux pads, as the fluids are just released into the water. After your baby is born, and you both move to the bed, cleanup will happen by emptying the pool with a sump pump into your toilet. We then remove the pool liner, and the pool can then be deflated. There is very little mess involved with this method at all.
As was mentioned above, you will probably labor in other parts of the house, and may deliver somewhere besides the pool or the bed. We are ready for this, too: If birth is imminent, we will be with you and prepared with chux to lay down to protect your floor from amniotic fluid and blood. Pad change-out will happen similarly to how it happens on the bed, no matter where we are.
To top it all off, we start your laundry for you and take out the trash on our way out.
Okay, so this all sounds pretty perfect – and we know that perfection isn’t always attainable. Of course, there are the rare occasions that a small amount of blood or amniotic fluid does, despite our bed efforts, end up on the carpet. We are on this, too – blood can be easily removed with hydrogen peroxide. This is precisely why we have a bottle listed on your birth supply list. It also works well to add some peroxide to the washing machine when we go to launder your birth sheets and towels.
So, rest assured, your midwives don’t want a mess any more than you do, and we put great planning and effort into fluid control. This is one more thing that we don’t want you to have to worry another second about as you look ahead to the day of your home birth.