Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Home birth to-do list

The original title of this post was slated as "Preparing for Home Birth," but that heading implies to me that a description of the philosophical and mental preparations required to birth at home will follow.  A post with such a label might delve into suggested research and knowledge to acquire, examine pain-coping techniques, address one's acceptance of responsibility, and/or promote spiritual enlightenment surrounding the rite of passage that is bringing a baby beautifully and naturally into the world.

This post, rather, is a look at the extensive and somewhat amusing list of logistical preparations I am making in anticipation of giving birth at my house. My Birth To-Do List resembles one for planning a large party or going on a big trip. I can't help but chuckle when I look at my list and then consider that many women's logistical birth preparations end right around having a duffel bag packed for the hospital and the infant seat installed in the car.

Let's begin with a look at the supplies I've gathered.  Of course the midwives provide all of the essential medical supplies, equipment, and emergency provisions. But they do require that I order their pre-specified Birth Kit from a local supplier. It includes such items as lubricating jelly, perineal instant cold pads, umbilical cord ring, sterile and non-sterile gloves, sitz bath herbs, a newborn hat, and more. If you're really curious, the whole list is here.

In addition to this kit, I have a whole page of additional items to gather--some required, some suggested. This list includes such items as a home-made birth blanket (for which I recently discovered instructions that do specify to tie the quilt!!!), towels, extension cords, flashlights (we definitely made use of these last time), plastic garbage bags, baby clothing, and more. There is also a list of specific foods and beverages to have available, including electrolyte drinks, protein drinks and clear protein shots, yogurt, fruit, popsicles, and a meal for the midwives, family, and post-partum mother.  Again, for those interested: the complete list is here.

Befitting my personality type, I have not only gathered the supplies, but carefully organized them. My midwives were very pleased to see this setup when they came for their home-visit last week.

What I find more amusing than these supplies are the To-Do lists I created. One for advance preparations and one for when labor begins. Here's a taste.


  • What to wear. No hospital gown here! Last time, after a brief soak in the hot tub (this was during a serious wind storm so Gary quickly ushered me back inside the house, fearing flying debris from our forested backyard), the clothes simply never went back on. I had no sense of a need for modesty under the spell of Laborland. I'm sure I will soak and possibly choose to birth in our large (indoor) tub, so I'll probably go with a bikini top and loose jersey dress (or muumuu as we affectionately call my favorite maternity wear). 
  • Slow-cooker meal.  Everything for my Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya is chopped up in a gallon Ziploc in the freezer so I can toss it in the Crock Pot when things get started.
  • Overnight bag. Yeah, I get to do this one too just in case we transport to the hospital.
  • Dog baths. Done yesterday - with a Living Social coupon, hooray! They look and smell so nice.
  • Activities/snacks/gifts for Madelyn.  We have discussed things Madelyn can do during labor if she gets bored or needs a break and I've hidden away a couple of surprises she'll enjoy playing with by herself (assuming she' awake). I even wrapped a couple of more special "big sister" gifts to open after he is born. One is a lovely silver bracelet specifically from the baby. 
  • Prepare Madelyn. Over the past few months we have looked at books and photographs and discussed how the baby will get here and what labor and birth might look and sound like. Most recently I screened dozens of home birth videos and selected a handful that were appropriate to share with Madelyn. I wanted her to see the facial expressions and hear the noises that sometimes accompany labor. I wanted her to see a baby being born into the water as well as on a bed. I wanted her to see the vagina stretching, the blood and amniotic fluid spilling, and the baby crying.  Because right now is the time to answer questions, reassure her of how normal this all is, and help her feel comfortable and even excited about witnessing the birth of her brother. 
  • Gifts for the midwives. I have no idea if it is customary to give a gift like this, I just enjoy doing it. I loved what I chose when Madelyn was born: a pair of warm, fuzzy socks for each midwife to wear in our house. It was December and we have hardwood floors throughout. This time I decided to get those travel beverage cups where you can insert your own photos inside. I created a design using the Vivante Midwifery logo and another image from their website. My intention is that they can use these for their ice water or tea while they are at our house and not lose their own cup.

When Labor Begins:
  • Page Vivante, call mothers, text close friends
  • Put jambalaya in slow cooker, set rice cooker on timer, and set out dishes
  • Shower, shave, brush teeth, change clothes
  • Weigh myself (I'm curious about my final weight gain and also how much I'll lose during birth) :)
  • Set out snacks, tea, fill my water bottle, etc. 
  • Tidy house, kitchen, bathrooms (I won't relax if it's messy)
  • Move laundry baskets into bedroom
  • Take bedding off of bed
  • Care for Madelyn 
Possible Labor Projects (depending on how I feel, time of day, etc.)
  • Bake "birthday" cupcakes. This would be fun for Madelyn to help with, fill the house with the aroma of baking, and is certainly appropriate for the occasion. 
  •  Make new blanket for Madelyn. My daughter and I have been working on a simple fleece blanket for the baby, as a gift from Big Sister. We also purchased the matching "girl" fleece print because Madelyn loved it and we're hoping to wean her away from the fleece blanket she's clung to since birth (literally--she even laid on this blanket during her Apgar Test).  I like the idea of concentrating on a gift for Madelyn during this time, emphasizing that my love for her is as strong as ever, even though most of the focus this day will be on bringing a new person into our family. 
I suppose many women (and men) would read this and wonder incredulously why anyone would create all this extra fuss when "they" take care of everything in a hospital. Again, that's an entirely different post, which I just realized, you can read in my own words HERE! "Worth it" almost seems like an understatement. I am very happy to be managing my own labor and birth process and all of these logistical preparations support my necessary mental preparations as well. 


Bridget said...

I love hearing little details like this! You have such good ideas for gifts for the midwives. I'm impressed. I've been wondering if you were going for a home birth this time around and I see that you are well on your way toward another beautiful experience.

I doubt there are actually people who are swayed toward a hospital birth by the idea of the amount of preparation they can cut down on that way, though, don't you think? I would hope that is the last thing on someone's mind when they're making that decision.

Kristen said...

Thanks Bridget. I didn't mean to imply that anyone would make their decision based on the amount of preparation, only that someone who already questions the reasoning of home birth parents would read this and have another tally in their "what a dumb idea" column. :)

Anita said...

Congratulations! Prayers and best wishes for a peaceful delivery.

I don't think you've overdone your preparations at all. I'm impressed! Being organized and covering all bases increases the likelihood of all going extremely well. That formula works in all aspects of life. I wish I were better at it!


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