Giving birth in your own home requires a bit of preparation. From the birth pool to extra towels, we list the things you may need to have ready before going into labour.
It’s a good idea to get everything together well before your due date. After all, you don’t want your partner to be out buying bin bags or buckets at the last minute if you go into labour sooner than you expected.
Don’t worry about how you’re going to get hold of a gas and air cylinder or other specialist birth equipment such as scissors to cut the cord – everything like that will be brought to you by the midwife. Sometimes this home birth kit will be delivered before the birth, but otherwise the midwife will bring it when they come to support you in labour.
- Download or print the checklist of essential items for your home birth if you’re looking for a quick guide.
- Use our Birth Choice tool to decide if a birth centre, labour ward or home birth is best for you if you’re still deciding where to give birth.
Practical things for the birth
There’s no getting around it – births are messy. If you give birth at home you’ll want to make sure you can protect your floors, carpets and furniture. It’s also good to have a think about the other things you might need, like some refreshments for the midwives and a camera to capture the first moments with your baby.
- Your birth plan and hospital notes
- The phone numbers of your midwifery team
- Plastic sheeting to protect floors, sofas and beds
- Soft covering like old sheets or towels
- A large towel to wrap yourself and your baby in
- Old towels if you’re planning to use a birth pool
- Disposable bed mats
- Bin bags for rubbish and laundry
- Bucket (useful if you’re sick)
- Tea and biscuits for midwives
- Camera (read our Which? guide to the best digital cameras)
- Clothes to go outside in (maybe to go to the hospital or perhaps just for a walk in the garden)
- A packed hospital bag (just in case you need to go to the labour ward)
Pain relief for a home birth
There are various options for pain relief when having your baby at home. If you want to have a water birth, you need to buy or hire a birth pool. To save having to dig out the user manual during labour, make sure that you and your birth partner know how to fill it and regulate its temperature. You can also use a TENs machine at home, so if you want to have one to hand, hire or buy one in advance. A hot-water bottle can also help you manage the pain, especially early on in your labour.
Find our more about what pain relief is available when having your baby at home compared to in a labour ward or birth centre.
Things to help you relax
One of the advantages of having a home birth is that you’ll have all your own things around which can make you feel more comfortable, but you may also want to get a few extra bits and pieces especially for the birth. A birth ball can help you keep active during labour, and you might want some music playing to help you relax.
- Music that will help you focus on the birth
- Candles or dimmed lighting to create a calm atmosphere
- Foods and drinks for you and your partner
- Ice cubes to suck on if you have a dry throat
- Comfy clothing
- Birth ball to keep you active and help you move your labour along
- Massage oil so your birth partner can help you relax
After your home birth
Once your baby’s born, you’ll want to get to know each other and probably get some rest. Having some frozen meals prepared in advance can be a godsend when your mind and hands are pre-occupied with your new family member, and having a stash of nappies and sanitary towels will mean fewer trips to the shop – leaving more time for those well-earned cuddles.
- Sanitary towels/maternity pads
- Big old knickers/disposable pants
- Baby clothes
- Warm light baby blanket
- Frozen meals