Home birth is intense and powerful. Women need to know they can birth at home People planning a home birth need to know that birth in a hospital is an odd new trend…birthing at home is the normal way to bring babies into the world. Women have been birthing babies in their “nests” since the beginning of time. Home birth is simple. It un-complicates a very natural process.
Midwives attending home births carry essential obstetric equipment to monitor the wellbeing of mother and baby and to deal with problems that may occur unexpectedly at birth. Essential equipment for home births is fairly minimal, easily fitting into a couple of bags. Parents are often surprised how little is used for a normal birth and also how little mess there is. Discussing equipment with women and taking time to briefly explain the mechanism of birth and infant transition to extra-uterine life enables them to feel confident in their bodies, which in turn facilitates the process.
As a homebirth midwife, I need a few supplies. At around 36 weeks I will take a birth kit to the house and the contents are explained to the woman and her partner so there are no surprises on the day. it is of outmost importance that the parents should see the contents. Therefore, the contents of the emergency bag are presented just in case the baby needs resuscitation. Parents find it helpful to know that the baby will not immediately be pink or that it may not cry. It is essential to prepare women and their partners for the birth. The opportunity is also taken to educate parents and birth partners on how to deliver a baby in the unlikely event that it arrives before the midwives do. A midwife should explain to the family that the only essential equipment they will need is warm towels or a blanket to keep baby and mother warm until the midwife or the paramedics arrive.
Most of my home births produce little mess, which is easily contained with some good pre-planning. I tell the family that they need plastic sheeting to protect the carpet, bed, birth mat or mattress, sofa etc. Plastic table cloths work well and a fitted plastic mattress covers alway go well.
I ask Women to have
Any old sheets or linen. Prospective grandparents are a useful source.
Hot water bottle to put on back or front of Mum in labour and to put on tummy afterwards for afterpains.
Nourishing, easily digested snacks of choice, yoghourts, Jordan bars, sugary sweets, dextrose tablets, bananas, Honey, crisps etc.
Nourishing fluids of choice
A nice soft big old towel to cover mum and baby together after the birth.
A small soft towel to wrap baby in if necessary
Practically all the births I attended at home, I have found a good waterproof protection for the floor, sofa, bed or wherever we end up, is a couple of metres of that waterproof table cloth that can be bought by the metre at good hardware or kitchen shops. It has a cloth backing and used cloth side up it is comfortable to walk on it, and the midwife does not slide around all over the place.
The birth bag contains
• Five incontinence pads
• A surgical delivery pack
• IV’s for mom if she becomes dehydrated or addiitional nutrients
• Lots of sterile gloves
• Foetoscopes or ultrasonic stethoscopes
• Medications to slow or stop a haemorrhage
• Special herbal preparations, homeopathic remedies, massage supplies/techniques and even acupuncture needles
• Items for suturing tears
• A surgical delivery pack
• An in/out catheter (which is rarely used).
• Oxygen for the baby if needed
• IV’s for mom if she becomes dehydrated or needs additional nutrients
• Bloodpressure monitor
• Cylinders of Entenox, mouth pieaces and mask
• One Cylinder of Oxygen
• Pethidine and Narcan
• Suturing materials and local anaesthetics
Emergency Bag Contents
An emergency bag contains:
• A neonatal bag and mask
• A laryngoscope
• Extra syringes
Drugs are Syntocinon, Syntometrine and Ergometrine, Pethidine and Narcan, Vitamin K
The practice’s sterile delivery pack contains a plastic cord clamp, a pair of episiotomy scissors, two cord clamps and a pair of cord scissors.
• 1 large Ziplock bag (for placenta)
• 2 large garbage bags (for general clean-up)
• 6 packets of EmergenC vitimin drink
Old sheets for covering floors & carpets
You don’t need to have a fancy house or apartment. You don’t need to have a clean house. There will be blood, there will be fluids but midwives know what they’re doing and know how to clean up after them.
Other Handy Items…
• camera with extra film and/or EMPTY flash/memory card
• video Recorder
• tape Recorder
• phone list
• note pad and/or diary
Birth is NOT gory, or traumatic! It is a natural thing to happen, women are built to give birth and to allow the process to happen the way nature intends is the only way to go. Women always have the right to change their minds. If a woman decide in labour that she would prefer to go to hospital, that is always an option. As midwife I always carried nitrous oxide/entenox (laughing gas) to a home birth, which is a very effective form of pain relief for many women. Otherwise, I was allowed to give opiods at home in my country.
I am trained to provide emergency treatment if there are complications after the birth. Just like most other midwives, I do carry oxygen and resuscitation equipment for babies who are slow to breathe as well as intravenous fluids and drugs to treat heavy bleeding after birth. I have sutured many tears or episiotomies. Twice I had to transfer to hospital because of meconium stained liquor.