This is the second post in a series about Rhianna’s planned home birth. You can read the first post here.
During my first pregnancy, I got lost in preparing for my baby’s arrival. I researched and researched baby goods, carrying that Baby Bargains book around like it was my bible. I spent hours upon hours composing the perfect eco-conscious baby registry filled with green sundries like organic receiving blankets, organic baby carriers, cloth diapers and plant-based, chemical-free baby toiletries. I spent even more time creating my baby’s nursery–picking out and coordinating fabrics, researching and arranging furniture, and sewing all kinds of projects from a crib skirt to an ottoman cover. You know, like it was my job. Everything was a Seriously Big Deal.
I’ve done close to zero amounts of obsessing in this manner this go ’round. My calmer, milder approach has everything to do with experience. I have some grounding in what to expect from birthing, breastfeeding, and general newborn care. Experience has shown me how little babies typically need in this first year, and I already have most of the needed baby gear. Taking notes from my fellow TOBB blogger Kate, and based on how we ultimately rolled with our son (nursing beyond infancy, bedsharing), we opted not to assemble a nursery this time. It was simply a matter of pragmatism, and I don’t feel the slightest bit of longing over forgoing a nursery. It works for us.
But, you know, there is something to be said for madly researching baby products and lovingly assembling a cozy, stylish baby room. These acts are bonding rituals. In immersing yourself in these tasks, you’re also immersing yourself in the idea that there is a real, live little creature on its way to rock your world. I think this can be powerful, meaningful stuff.
I’ve missed this sort of baby-prep ritual, just a little, this time around. But, no worries, because there is a good measure of other things to sink yourself into when you’re planning a home birth. My bonding ritual has come in the form of getting ready for birthin’ mah behbeh at home.
At 35 weeks, my midwife instructed me to order my birth kit. My understanding is that many midwives assemble a custom birth kit that can be ordered with ease through specific birth supply providers. At its base, the kit it cost $49. These are the items included in that kit:
- 10 Basic Underpads, 23×36”
- 10 Large Deluxe Underpads, 30×36”
- 2 Alcohol Prep Pad
- 1 Plastic Back Sheet
- 10 Gloves, Sterile Synthetic Singles, Medium
- 2 Mesh Panty, choose size
- 2 Peri bottles
- 10 Gauze, Sterile 12-ply, 2 per pkg.
- 3 Straw, Flexible and Individually Wrapped
- 1 Newborn Paper Tape Measure, 36″
- 1 Newborn 100% Cotton Hat, choose from pink, blue or white
- 1 Povidone Iodine Scrub Brush
- 1 Povidone iodine Solution, 4oz
- 8 Lubricating Jelly, 3g
- 1 Umbilical Cord Clamp
- 1 Cord Ring
- 1 Infant Heel Warmer
- 1 Tenderfoot Lancet
- 1 Sani-Cloth Germicidal Towelette
- 1 Non-sterile OB Pads, pkg of 12
- 1 Economy Bulb Syringe, 2oz
- 1 Homebirth Certificate, choose style
- 2 Protection Plus Classic Underwear
- 1 Muslin Bag, 4×6”
Because I am planning a water birth, I also added a birthing pool liner to this kit for an additional $22. I am renting a La Bassine pool from my midwife. (She also offers an Aquadoula pool rental option.) The La Bassine is an inflatable pool (you can see in the link), and it’s tucked safely in my bedroom closet with a speedy electric pump (provided by my midwife as well), ready to be inflated, lined and filled.
Besides my midwife’s professional equipment and the supplies included in the birth kit, there are other necessary supplies as well, and these are the ones I’ve been slowly accumulating over the last few weeks. Many are items I already had around the house and simply needed to collect together and keep in a central place.
- 2 large mixing bowls, preferably not glass (for holding the midwife’s tools, for placenta)
- 1 large stock pot (in case the hot water heater runs out and we need more hot H2O)
- bottle hydrogen peroxide
- 4 large dark garbage bags
- package 1 gallon Ziploc bags
- 1 plastic shower curtain or flannel backed tablecloth (for protecting your bed linens)
- 1 roll of toilet paper
- Thermometer (inexpensive standard size digital is best)
- 1 set of sheets for your bed you don’t mind staining (You make your bed with your usual sheet set; cover this with your shower curtain(s)/tablecloth; and then cover the waterproof layer with these sheets. You can then just pull off the messy sheets post birthing, and your clean stuff is there and ready for your post-birth nap.)
- 8+ large bath towels
- 4-8 receiving blankets.
- 4-8 wash cloths
- 1 box of super maxi-pads
- Diapers (cloth or paper diapers are fine)
- Soft cotton clothes for baby
- postpartum clothes for mom
- 1 small bottle olive oil (for perineal massage or even for smoothing on baby’s bum to make meconium clean-up easier)
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Unscented candles only please
- Birth pool (If you are planning to use water for birthing support)
- 1 Pool liner
- 1 water-resistant floor covering for under the pool. (You can use flannel backed table cloths, a tarp, drop cloth or shower curtain)
- 1 new or cleaned hose
- Adapter for faucet
- Rehydration drinks (I am a coconut water girl, so I have a few cartons tucked in the fridge)
- Easy to make and serve healthy labor snacks. Cheese, nut-butters, toast, granola bars, fruit, nuts, etc.
- Meals and snacks for all. Frozen meals, casseroles, fruits and veggies, nuts, eggs, etc. are all great.
- postpartum meal. Have available yummy, hearty food or us to prepare for you after the birth – you will probably be very hungry!!
I was excited when I first perused these lists; I was stoked to have a project to focus on. But I am going to admit something: as the weeks passed, I began to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. As soon as I crossed one of these items off of my to-do list, I would replace it with about three other things. There were so many things I wanted to do this time around that I didn’t do or didn’t anticipate needing to do last time: things I missed having with my son’s birth (seek out recommendations for and hire a birth photographer!); things experience taught me I would definitely need during the immediate postpartum time (search out recipes and prepare freezer meals); things I could sew while I thought about my new daughter, just like I did when I made those items for my son’s nursery (get fabric and supplies and find the time to make baby booties, burp cloths, nursing pads); things that would get my nursing relationship off to a good start (make and freeze lactation cookies, touch base with insurance company to inquire about coverage for lactation consultant visits, check out now-mandated-by-Affordable-Care-Act breast pump rental); things to consider about my placenta more seriously this time (encapsulate it myself or research and hire someone else to do it?); and things to help soothe my post-birth vag (like these awesome DIY postpartum care pads).
The overwhelm was temporary and, I now realize, was an understandable part of readying for a big family change. I more fully involved my husband in the to-doing, and I asked for help from family members, who were eager and excited to oblige, much to my fortune and gratitude. Take freezer meals, for example. My mother-in-law was talking about a possible baby shower-type event one day, and I said, “You know what I think I’d really like instead? A cooking party. Where everyone comes and makes meals for us to take home and put in our freezer.” And, just like that, she was on it. One recent past weekend, my in-laws’ kitchen was filled with people making food for my family for after the birth. We’ve now got a couple of weeks’ worth of dinners tucked in our freezer.
Here I am now, nearing 40 weeks, and the to-do lists are pretty quiet. We’re ready. There are still some sweet little booties to be made, and hopefully they will be made during this last stretch of waiting without distraction and with my heart fully on this soon-to-arrive little girl.
Rhianna lives in, blogs from, and will birth her new baby in her new home city of St. Louis, where she has been happily surprised to discover a growing community of folks advocating for gentle, informed, and evidenced-based birth practices.