I’m often asked, “What do you need for a homebirth”. For many homebirth elicits images of boiling water, grabbing towels and a pair of scissors. My response to this question is well, technically nothing. Women already have within themselves everything they need for birth. Everything else is an optional extra.
Back when I was preparing for my first homebirth, I came across an online thread asking if you should have a ‘Just In Case’ hospital bag packed for your homebirth. Much of the conversation was very practical and had good sound reasons for doing so – on the slim chance you need to transfer, you can just grab the bag and go without having to come too far out of labour land to get the stuff you need or yell instructions to your birth support person between surges.
But this didn’t entirely sit well with me. It felt a bit too close to self-sabotage. I didn’t need a ‘just in case’ because I was totally going to rock this birth. Being the Overly Organised Pedantic Perfectionist (it’s a disease, I swear!) I am, I did however like the idea of a bag that had all the stuff I could possibly need for the birth and just after that was also easily portable.
Enter the Birth Bag/Basket/Box. Everyone knows to pack a bag for hospital but what do you need for homebirth? At the time doing a Google search for “birth box” didn’t really come up with much. In fact, most of it was what you should pack for hospital or where you could buy a super-duper-no-brainer-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pre-packed hospital bag that cost, shall we say, rather a lot.
Given that the purpose of a hospital bag is to bring home necessities to the hospital, it would seem that being in your home when you already have all those things would make the Birth Basket rather redundant. And hey, I did say that technically you only need yourself and your baby to birth. So, what is the point? I think what it ultimately comes down to is this: it makes things easier. When we are in labour land, the last thing we want to have to worry about is telling a birth companion which colour towel is the ok one to squat over as baby is crowning. It’s much easier for birth companions to know about the Birth Basket and grab you stuff as it’s needed.
At it’s very basics, the Birth Basket is an easily portable container that holds almost anything and everything we could wish for during birth. And yes, in the very unlikely event you need to transfer, you can just grab the whole thing and go.
It’s as basic or as all-inclusive as you want it. It can hold nothing but towels or it can hold everything including the kitchen sink if you really wanted. But as one of the most frequently asked questions is “What do you need for a homebirth”, here’s the Overly Organised Pedantic Perfectionist’s version of “What do I need in my Birth Basket?”
- Old towels (or new if you don’t care that they might get stained)
- Drop cloth, picnic blanket, shower curtain, birth mat, old blanket, etc. to protect the floor
- Linens (as cover and to change the bed sheets as needed)
- Disposable incontinence sheets
- Warm, soft blankets for Mama and baby
- Muslin, flannelette or similar receiving blankets
- Flannels/Wash cloths
- PJs/Nightie/Comfy clothes to rest in
- A robe/dressing gown
- Baby clothes
- EC (Elimination Communication) Potty or nappies (or both)
- Baby Balm, Lanolin or Nipple Balm
- Wheat packs and/or hot water bottles
- Maternity pads and underwear or disposable incontinence underwear.
- Maternity bra and breast pads (flannels work well too)
- Toiletries (unscented or lightly scented)
- Rescue Remedy, Arnica, essential oils or any other holistic remedies you might want to use
- Snacks, drinks and bendy straws.
- Massage oil, tennis balls or other massage items and an acupressure point print out
- Candles, music, images, beads, affirmations, etc.
- A large bowl or bucket
- A mirror
- Camera (no flash!)
- Container or ipu whenua for placenta
- Muka or umbilical cord tie (and ponamu or similar to cut the cord)
- Lotus birth bag, herbs and cloths if you want a Lotus Birth
- Rubbish bags
- Hydrogen Peroxide (cleans any accidental dripped blood spots)
- If you plan a water birth, you can have a separate bucket with all the birth pool supplies in it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and any quick look around the internet will reveal the “must-haves” vary almost as much as the births. Everything on this list is completely optional. But therein lies one of the beauties of the Birth Basket – just as every birth is individual and unique, you can tailor your Birth Basket to your unique needs, wants and must-haves.