Updated: Jun 29
This post isn't just for people who plan to birth at home. That's why the title is labour and birth at home rather than homebirth. Unless your labour starts by being induced in the hospital (check out our post about that if that might be offered to you) some of your birth experience will be at home. If you have a super-fast labour it might all be at home whether you planned it that way or not. If you have a moderately fast labour it might be just a short time at home before you transfer to the birth centre or labour ward. If you have a slower burning longer labour it might be at home for a relatively long time before you transfer to your chosen birth location. So for everyone, there's some time labouring in the comfort of your own home. The good news about this is there's plenty of evidence that the home comforts can be very beneficial to you during that time.
So this post is going to be all about what you can do to help yourself labour and birth comfortably at home. If you're still wondering if choosing to birth at home as well as labour is for you or not you might want to check out the page about homebirth on Cathy William's Chilled Mama website too. It covers lots of information about statistics on the safety of birthing at home. Cathy's the author of the quote in the picture here "All births that start spontaneously are homebirths. It's just that some have planned transfers. This quote is mentioned by our committee secretary Sally during the video chat we recently had about home birth which you can watch below.
Our practical tips for labour and birth at home.
If you don't already know about oxytocin you might want to do some reading up about it wherever you plan to birth. One place you could start is our blog post of ideas for helping yourself through labour.
In your own home, you have the safety and comfort you need to build up your own oxytocin and endorphin levels. In early labour, this might include privacy for smooching or massage etc from your partner. Or if you don't feel like being touched at the time it's a space and facilities for watching funny TV or listening to funny podcasts.
It's completely up to you who you have with you in your own home, have your older children with you, or have someone else around to look after them whichever helps you feel the most relaxed. Have family members or friends who make you feel relaxed and happy or who can make you laugh. Or ask everyone to leave or go downstairs while you shut yourself in the bathroom in the quiet and dark.
Your own bathroom is a brilliant tool for helping yourself to progress in labour, the safety and natural feeling of release you get when you sit on the toilet can be really helpful Or you can take a bath or a shower and the water can be fantastic for helping you relax.
Your own kitchen means you can eat what you like when you like and so can your birth partner and team. Some people find making a cake is a great distraction for during early
You can set yourself up a birthing nest in your favourite room of your house. Set up a birth pool that you know will be available for you. Set up a display of your favouite positive affirmations, put up fairy lights, make it cosy for yourself. Also remember that when you're in labour you may find yourself picking some other place around the house. But even if you do that in labour the positives from just preparing that space are all the relaxing effects during the last days of your pregnancy. Plus wherever you birth you will have that lovely set up to relax in once baby arrives.
Being able to cuddle up in your own bed once baby is here and everyone but your new family is gone is such a lovely feeling. One brilliant tip from the team is to make your bed with lovely sheets, then cover those with a waterproof layer then a set of old sheets. So if the bed gets messy during labour you can peel off the top layer, pop it in the washing machine and snuggle down in your nice clean sheets when you're ready.
Plans in advance and decisions on the day.
One of the things we talk about in the video and that we talk about very often is to remember that plans are flexible. You might plan a homebirth and on the day decide for some reason you want to go into hospital, you might plan a hospital birth and on the day
your baby might have other ideas and arrive before you expect while you're still at home.
It's really important to remember that there are no wrong decisions, you make the right decision for you at that moment with the information available to you at the time. Birth is not a pass or fail event, if you hear terms like failed homebirth remind yourself that language isn't helpful or accurate. It's much more accurate to say homebirth with transfer during labour or after the birth. Making the decision to do something differently to your plan A (including transfer to hospital) when information or events make that the right choice for you at the time is always part of the plan for any birth.
Sometimes labour can happen faster than expected and being prepared for the possibility that your baby could arrive before the midwife will make that a much less scary event should it happen to you. The team's ideas for being prepared include watching lots of homebirth videos (available on YouTube for example) so you're used to seeing the natural progress of uninterrupted birth and doing a course that covers first aid and specifically first aid for childbirth. Such as this one from midwife Joy Horner.
Keep your eyes peeled here for when our new birth stories podcast launches soon. If you can't wait for that pop over to our Instagram and check out the Birth Stories Highlight.