Last week we had our full term home visit with our homebirth midwives. A home visit is like any other prenatal visit but it also gives the midwives a chance to visit your home before the big day arrives and to be sure you have all of your birthing supplies together and in one place.
Your midwife will have you order a birth kit before 36 weeks. A typical birth kit includes medical supplies your midwife and the midwife assistants will need during labor and delivery. To read more about the items in my birth kit through my Midwifery practice, and other practices as well, check out www.yourwaterbirth.com.
Your midwife will also provide you with a list of supplies you should have ready. These are usually items you probably already have around the house (e.g., flashlight, trash bags, plastic sheets). The list my midwives gave me can be seen here: Riverside Midwifery Birth Supply List.
Once you have ordered your birth kit, and gathered the required birthing supplies, you can then gather items you want on hand to help you during labor, birth and postpartum. It’s good to get these together in one area or basket before the big day so that you aren’t running around in between contractions finding your comfort items.
Here is a look at some of my Birth Essentials:
– A few drops of lavender oil in the birth pool or in a carrier oil for massage can help aid in relaxation and focus during early labor. I have been using lavender throughout my pregnancy during my HypBirth
sessions and birth visualizations. This creates a sense memory and whenever lavender oil is used it helps me to relax that much quicker and with ease.
Jasmine Oil– Jasmine is a stimulant and great essential oil to use during late labor or transition. It can be added to the birth pool, or carrier oil for massage.
Grape Seed Oil– My carrier oil of choice (and face wash too!) . A few drops of grape seed oil and essential oil for your stage of labor are all you need for a comforting labor massage in between or during contractions. My nightly belly rubs have consisted of grape seed with jasmine oil in an effort to strengthen my nightly uterine contractions.
Evening Primrose Oil Capsules– Evening primrose can be used to help prep the cervix for labor by softening and aiding in it’s dilation. The capsules can also be broken open and the oil used to help stretch the perineum during the pushing stage of labor.
Rice Packs– Wonderful hot or cold, I suggest having a few of these on hand to toss in the microwave (or a few in the freezer). I made mine with some dried lavender from the garden, rice, scrap fabric and a few quick runs through the sewing machine.
Coconut Water– Labor is hard work. You sweat …you sweat a lot, and you lose valuable electrolytes that keep you going. Water alone does not rehydrate you, and cannot help replace electrolytes alone. Coconut water is a great 100% natural alternative to sports drinks. The brand I stocked up on, Harvest Bay, is my favorite and tastes amazing chilled (instructions to serve this over a lot of ice has been given to my husband).
Honey– Honey provides an instant energy boost for a laboring momma. Honey sticks are great to have on hand, as well as adding honey to water or a tea for the momma to sip on. I was gifted this jar of Mayan herbed honey at my motherblessing from a fellow homebirthing momma.
Lip alm– Good to have on hand when your lips get dry during labor. Better to have this in your labor basket then having your partner try to rummage through your purse. You will be glad you had this at your side as a quick comfort item. Try an herbal scented balm as a labor pick me up or to aid in easing nausea.
Arnica– Arnica is used to reduce the fatigue, bruising, and trauma of labor. It can help to control bleeding, and prevent hemorrhaging. After childbirth, it eases afterpains, assists in the contraction of the uterus, which can be more painful with each birth.
Rescue Remedy– This tincture is great to have on hand during labor when anxiety, stress, helplessness, or just exhaustion kick in. A few drops in water or under the tongue can be that little extra emotional boost a laboring mom needs. I find it to be helpful during these final days when end of pregnancy anxiousness sets in.
After Birth Pain Tincture– After birth pains can be pretty intense as the uterus contracts to go back down to pre pregnancy size. This mix of herbal extracts can help ease muscle tension and cramping.
I would like to spend most of my time laboring and then birthing in our room and have set up the bedroom to accommodate this. Our birth kit and essentials are conveniently located in one location to provide ease of access for my husband and midwives. A few other items have been set up to create a tranquil, comfort zone for myself and my birth team.
-A personal space you can add items (from nature, religious items, personal items) that you feel give you strength and will become a power symbol for your birth. You can read more about my birth altar and the items I choose here: My Birth Altar
Birth Pool– Laboring in a birth pool helps to promote relaxation which can help to speed up the labor progress. The pool also allows freedom of movement and changes in position while still providing a release of pelvic pressure. I loved every minute of laboring in my birth pool the last time, and hope to have a water birth this time.
Birthing Ball– I have enjoyed the comfort of sitting and swaying on the birthing ball during these final days as an instant release of pressure from my pelvic area, but this can also be a wonderful tool during labor as well to help open the pelvis and help decrease perineal pressure.
Glider– This was my favorite laboring tool during my last homebirth, specifically the ottoman. I was on my knees, arms resting on the ottoman, rocking rhythmically with each contraction. It’s also a nice labor visual to look at and remind myself that soon I will be rocking and nursing my little one and that labor will not last forever.
Bed– I wanted everything in our room to be a one stop shop so that after the birth I can be moved right to our bed. All post birth exams and measurements of baby can be done right from here while the whole family gathers in and I can rest after working very hard to bring baby earthside. I also want to provide a place for my birth team members to rest while I labor in the birth pool.
While style isn’t important when in labor, I feel that comfort is. Being able to stretch, squat, sway and move freely around the house is critical.
I have placed a few items aside for my Birthing Day Wear:
Birth Bead Jewelry
– During my Motherblessing I was gifted beautiful beads by friends and family. I crafted the beads into a necklace and a pair of earrings that I will wear when in labor as a reminder of all the women who encourage and support me. Every year for Baby V’s birthday, I will wear my birthing day jewelry to celebrate that day and the reminder of my strength .
– While searching for a comfortable, stretchy skirt to wear during labor, I was about to head to the craft store for fabric and sew my own until I came across Tango Skirt
. Made for tango dancers to be able to go from street to dance floor, it hit me that these would be perfect for laboring moms! You can stretch and sway anyway you want, and feel less exposed if you wish. I contacted the owner (and friend) about getting a skirt custom made with jersey knit fabric to match the colors of my birth earrings. I love the mix of earthy brown tones with the turquoise (and matching braided belt!). Tango skirts and birth! Perfect! More about my skirt here
I have been spending my days nesting and preparing the house for the arrival of a new little soul. I have been spending just as much time scrubbing the bathroom floors as I have been meditating and practicing my birth visualizations. At our home visit I measured 37 cm, and baby is head down and ROA (Right Occiput Anterior), meaning the baby’s back is to my right side. Baby’s heart beat sounded great and is still around 150. Bay got to play with the doppler and help find the baby’s heartbeat, while Lina stood over me working the blood pressure cuff. I love that the Midwives get the children so involved in the visits. I feel that it helps them bond with the baby and feel comfortable with the pregnancy and the upcoming homebirth. There is so much excitement and anticipation in the air knowing that labor can start at any moment. Until then, I will continue to move slowly during these hot summer days, tending to my home and garden, wondering if every twinge or contraction is “the one”, and daydreaming of the moment we welcome Baby V earthside.
Photos by Antonette Vasseur