Prepare for a Home Birth #2 – Set Up

Posted by Jennifer on April 26, 2011 – 6:10 pm

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photo adapted from jessica.diamond

Considerations for Setting Up:

So you’ve gathered all your supplies. Good job! Before you begin to set up, you’ll want to decide where you will labor. {Note: I’m not a doctor, or any sort of medical professional or birth expert. I’m simply sharing what works for me.} There are three main parts to your labor:

Early Labor – where you may want to walk around, watch movies, have visitors etc. Yes, you are having contractions and they can really hurt as this stage progresses but you’re still quite mobile. {With Chloe this phase was about 30 hours+/- for me and with John about 5+/- hours. I spent this part of labor in the main part of our house}.

Active Labor – when the contractions start to become really intense and you are dilating up to 10cm. At this point, you may want more privacy to use coping methods such as rocking on a birth ball, bath, shower etc. {With Chloe this phase was about 6 hours and John less than an hour. For this part, I spent some of it in the main part of our house but most of it in the bath or the privacy of our bedroom}.

Pushing – Once you’re completely dilated, it’s the pushing phase and one of the most intense stages. You may try a couple of things before finding the “right” way to push for you. It’s good to have an idea before hand where you might like to deliver so that you can have the supplies close at hand, though of course you reserve the right to change your mind. {I don’t remember where I thought I was going to have Chloe but leaning over on my birth ball while on the bathroom floor wasn’t exactly my plan. But that was the perfect position and spot for that birth. For John, after trying several things, sitting on a birthing stool – brought by the midwives – on the floor of my bedroom was where he was born. Guess I’m a floor person.}

Once you have an idea of where things are going to happen, it makes it much easier to form a plan to setting everything up.

Putting It All Together:

I like to have all my items gathered together about 35 weeks along. Homebirths do not happen unless you’re min. 37 weeks along. If labor starts before then, off to the hospital you go! I gather everything I need in one spot so I am ready to set up when I go into labor.

With Chloe I had loads of time during early labor, but with John I didn’t have as much. If you have all the items gathered together in one spot, it makes setting up a breeze and will take you but a few moments. My set up looks like this:

Portable CD player and CD’s ready to go. Depending on where I am for early labor, I might plug it in in the TV room, bathroom etc.

My Ensuite Bathroom:

  • All “extras’” put away with only necessities out.
  • Extra toilet paper stocked. Kleenex Stocked.
  • Stack of old towels on the side of the tub along with some facecloths.
  • Tena disposable underwear, wipes, breast pads put out on the counter by the bath.

Bedroom:

  • Surfaces cleared, “extras” put away. Dresser top available for midwives’ use.
  • Kleenex and lamp on  night stand.
  • 2 Rubbermaid totes lined with garbage bags and labeled “garbage” and “laundry”, you’ll be amazed at how much of both you may have.
  • 1 large bowl or container (lined with a grocery bag) for the placenta.
  • If you have a crock pot, you can keep warm, damp facecloths in here for perineum  compresses to sooth and help prevent tears.
  • Two folding chairs {in case the midwives want to sit down, or for leaning on/support during labor etc.}

The Floor

  • An inflated birth ball/exercise ball on the bathroom floor covered with old towels was perfect for Chloe’s birth. {so I make sure the ball is inflated and towels are handy}
  • Sitting on a birth stool {brought by the midwives} supported by DH was what worked with John. So I make a “laboring spot” on the floor with a flannel-backed table cloth on the floor and an old blanket or towels on top for comfort.
  • I will also put a table cloth on the floor alongside the bed just in case.

Note: I used shower curtains the first time round and discovered that shower curtains on carpet are very, very slippery and someone is likely to slip and fall! Flannel-backed table cloths (Dollar Store) are much safer!

Make the Bed a ‘Special’ Way:

Vinyl flannel-backed tablecloth, large waterproof cover, shower curtain etc. on the bed, then a fitted sheet, then another waterproof cover then another fitted sheet. {This makes changing the bed -if necessary- a very quick job.}

Pillows on the bed don’t need anything special but you may want to use some pillows to sit on, lean on etc. during labor. For these pillows, put a garbage bag over them and then put the pillow case back on them.

You’ll also want a light blanket that you don’t mind getting dirty. While you probably won’t need it during labor, afterwards you may very well be cold. Your body has just experienced quite an ordeal and you may be shaking.

Baby Area

After the birth, one midwife will attend you and one will attend baby. She will need an area to examine and care for baby. If you have a heating pad, it’s nice to turn it on when active labor starts. Have a receiving blanket below and on top of the heading pad to make sure the blankets are warm and toasty to welcome baby.

You’ll also want to have a diaper, outfit, cap and wipes in this area as well though baby doesn’t need to be dressed right away.

Bottom Line

Whether you’ve gathered everything you can think of, or whether you’ve just gathered some towels and basics, your baby is still going to come and you’ll still be marveling at the miracle of birth in just a few short hours…

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4 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. Stephanie Said:

    Thank you for the information! I wanted to do a home birth but insurance wouldn’t cover it. We didn’t have the extra money on hand to pay out of pocket. Nearest one is over an hour away, so that was also abit scary.

    In the future, we want to look at the option again as home births really appeal to me. Especially water births. He will have a different job by then (plan in 3 or so years TTC), so we would need to look at insurance, where we live and if it is the best choice for the time.

    clc_little_britches @ yahoo dot com

  2. 2. Jennifer Said:

    @Stephanie It certainly helps for us that we live in Ontario, Canada where hospital care and midwifery costs are all covered by the government. Cost is definitely a huge deciding factor; as is the hospital being so far away for you. We have a hospital about a 7 minute drive away which certainly contributes to me being so comfortable at home; knowing that if needed, it is so close!

    I’ve never experienced a water birth but have read several; they do sound nice don’t they?

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