Home birth checklist
Giving birth in your own home requires a bit of preparation. From a birth pool or TENS machine to extra towels, we list the things to have ready before going into labour – and answer some of the practical home birth questions you may have.
- What things do I need to get for a home birth?
- What do midwives bring for a home birth?
- What if I need to go to hospital?
- Can my children be home when I give birth?
One of the advantages of having a home birth is that you’ll already have all your own things around which can make you feel more comfortable That said, you may also want to get a few extra bits and pieces to help you cope with labour and make sure you can protect your floors and furniture.
Here’s a list of things you may want to get ready. You can download our home birth checklist as a reminder of key things to have on hand as your due date approaches.
Home birth pain relief and relaxation
- Birth pool and accessories if you want to have a home water birth
- Hot-water bottle for early on in labour
- TENS machine to help you cope with the pain
- Any hypnotherapy affirmation cards you want to focus on
- Music that will help keep you calm and focused
- Candles or any special lighting to create a calm atmosphere
- Food and drinks for you and your partner
- Ice cubes to suck on if you have a dry throat
- Birth ball to keep you active and help you move your labour along
- Massage oil so your birth partner can help you relax
Practical things for a home birth
- Your birth plan and maternity 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
- Extra old towels if you’re planning to use a birth pool
- Disposable bed mats
- Bin bags for rubbish and laundry
- A bucket (useful if you’re sick)
- Comfy clothing and clothes to go outside in (maybe to go to the hospital or perhaps just for a walk around the garden)
- Tea and biscuits for the midwives
- A packed hospital bag (just in case you need to go to the labour ward).
For after your home birth
- Camera (read our guide to the best digital cameras)
- Sanitary towels/maternity pads
- Big old knickers/disposable pants
- Baby clothes
- A warm, light baby blanket
- Frozen meals
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, so it’s in your home ready, but otherwise the midwife will bring it when they come to support you in labour.
Your midwife will also bring large disposable absorbent pads to go underneath you when you’re giving birth. And after your baby’s arrived, the midwife will make sure your home is tidied up before they leave.
It’s not uncommon to transfer to the hospital, either during labour or shortly after the baby is born – almost half of first-time mothers having a home birth are moved to the hospital at some point. Being prepared for this can help you feel more relaxed during labour.
Making sure you have a hospital bag packed is a good way to ensure you’re ready for all eventualities, but you may also like to think through other practical considerations for a transfer.
- Are there several flights of stairs to climb? It can be comforting to know that paramedics are used to helping people down stairs, although it could of course be uncomfortable for you to be taken down the stairs if you’re in labour or have just given birth.
- Is there road access for an ambulance or taxi? If you live in a very remote area, discuss with your midwife how you would be transferred so you’re comfortable with the arrangements.
- Is there parking space? If your road is usually full of parked cars, you may be able to reserve a parking space in advance by speaking to your neighbours and putting out traffic cones.
- Is there space for you to be taken out in a wheelchair or on a stretcher, if necessary? If your front door has a narrow opening, perhaps you can go through the back door.
Yes, your older children can be present at your birth if you want them to be. For some women, that’s one of the main advantages of having a home birth.
If you do decide to have them there, be prepared to be flexible – your children may decide to watch the birth, or keep well away, or they may sleep through it all and wake up to find they have a new baby brother or sister the next morning.
It’s a good idea to have someone other than yourself and your birth partner around to look after the children. You’ll both become increasingly preoccupied as you get closer to giving birth, and you may need to go to the hospital at some point which can be scary or confusing to children.
What about my pets?
You don’t have to send away your pets before giving birth, but planning for cats and dogs to be in another room while you’re in labour might make you all more comfortable.
Some pets may be distressed to hear you in pain. On the other hand, some owners report that their pets seem to intuitively understand the importance of the event and be calmer than usual.
Should I tell my neighbours?
There’s no requirement for you to tell your neighbours that you’re planning to give birth at home, but doing so might save you a 4am knock on the door from a concerned neighbour.
If for any reason you feel very uncomfortable at the thought of your neighbours hearing you give birth, or seeing you be transferred to hospital via an ambulance, maybe you’d feel more relaxed giving birth in a birth centre or labour ward instead.
Use our Where to give birth tool to compare birth settings based on your preferences and circumstances.