Are you wondering how you can best prepare your home for a water birth? When we are confronted with the idea of giving birth in our home, we suddenly realize that we may not have all of the tools on hand to make such an event go off without a hitch.

What do you need to buy for a home birth? That list alone sounds like it may be daunting, but it truly isn’t. Adding a water birth to the mix does require some doubling up on supplies though.

But overall, a water birth at home is a momentous occasion that comes at a fairly reasonable expense with the average home birth costing around 60 percent less than a similar birth would in a hospital. (Source)

First Up: The Birthing Pool

The birthing pool is the biggest part of a home water birth’s plans for most mothers entertaining the thought of giving birth in the water. There are many factors to consider when choosing a birthing pool.

The size of it is critical. Not only does it need to fit in the space you’re carving out in your home to put it up, but it needs to allow for Mom to be submerged to the top of her belly, and for Dad to join in if Mom needs extra support.

There are many components to a water birth and to the pool itself. Not only do you need to choose between popular brands of pools, but you’ll need the extra supplies that go with it, such as the following.

A Pool Liner

Every birthing pool is best maintained by using a pool liner, too. While this may not be quite as necessary if you’re buying a kiddie pool to birth in, larger, more expensive birth pools that can be easily reused should have a clear, plastic liner draped into and over them before filling the vessel with water.

This assures that any byproducts of the birth—like meconium or your own stool—don’t contaminate the actual birth pool. After the pool is drained post-birth, the liner can just be tossed in the trash.

A Strainer

While you won’t be draining pasta or rinsing vegetables during your water birth, your partner or midwife will be scooping up any solid matter in the birth pool after the baby has arrived. This ensures that the water is clear of clumps of matter that could clog the pump when emptying the water after baby has arrived.

A Floating Thermometer

The standard pool thermometer does a good job at this, but there are thermometers made specifically for home birth that are available, too. These thermometers float in the pool while you are in labor. It can be placed into the water rather quickly to gauge the temperature if you aren’t keen on it floating around with you the entire time.

This is an important step to adhere to because temperature regulation is vital when birthing in the water. The water needs to be kept at around 97 degrees Fahrenheit when the baby comes into the world. (Source)

A Reverse Pump

The reverse pump is used quite literally for what it sounds like it’s used for. Instead of pumping water into the birthing pool, the reverse pump is submerged in the water to facilitate taking the water out of the pool. Obviously, this step is employed when the baby has already been born and both Mom and baby are safely resting elsewhere. The reverse pump should never be submerged in the birthing pool water while anyone is still in it.

A Hose For Filling The Pool

You will need to purchase a brand new hose to use when filling the birthing pool. While it’s convenient to step outside and grab your own garden hose for this use, that hose is not nearly as sterile. You want a clean hose when you’re filling a pool with it that you intend to give birth in.

Not only will your brand new baby be exposed to that water, but so will your body, which will have a rather large wound inside of it by the time you are exiting the pool. (Source)

A Hose Adapter

Now then, how are you going to get the water from the water source to the hose? Good question! You will notice almost immediately that most garden hoses are not fit to screw onto a household sink faucet. Most home improvement stores sell adapters that link the two by the hose screwing onto one end and the sink to the other. You can also buy these home birth pool adapters online.

A Hose For Emptying The Pool

You will also need a hose for emptying the birthing pool. Things can get a little tricky with this hose, too. This time, the problem isn’t the need for an adapter, but the need to make sure the hose will screw onto the reverse pump.

That is because this hose will be used to empty the birthing pool after the baby is born. Thus, while it would be easy enough to just use the same garden hose you used to fill it, that hose usually won’t link up to the reverse pump.

If your midwife is bringing the pump herself, she’s probably got the right hose for it already. But if you’re going at this birth thing alone, you’ll need to be prepared for this step.

There Are Extras To Keep Poolside

Now that we’ve covered everything in detail that you’ll need to operate the birthing pool, let’s review the items you should be keeping outside of the pool.

Lots Of Extra Towels

You have no idea how long you will be in labor. You might find yourself getting into and out of the water far more frequently than expected. If there’s one thing a laboring mother isn’t keen on while coping with contractions, it may be drying off with a cold, damp towel. You’re going to want a dry towel each time you get out; it’s okay to spoil yourself this time.

Those towels will also come in handy to mop up water on the ground after you step out, as well as bundling up the baby after the birth. During a water birth, there’s no such thing as having too many towels.

Another Plastic Liner

While one liner is busy protecting the birthing pool, this other liner is going to protect your floors. You can opt for a shower curtain or even a plastic painter’s tarp, but one of my favorite tricks of the trade for home birth is the use of tablecloths on the floor. Yes, tablecloths!

Specifically, the kind of tablecloth that has a vinyl surface with the fuzzy backing. This will grip your flooring, thereby making slips far less likely to occur. They’re also thicker and not inclined to rip—even with lots of wear and tear.

Pots Of Water

Bring out Grandma’s stock pot and get to work. Unless you’re the proud user of a birth pool like the AquaDoula, which regulates water temperature, you’re going to need a few extra tools in your arsenal to keep that water temperature right where you want it as you labor.

Thus, midwives get crafty and go back to basics by boiling pots of water on your stove. Don’t laugh; it totally works and will be your saving grace if the water starts to feel chilly when you’re around 8 centimeters along.

A Flashlight

You may not find this as handy if you’re going unassisted, but some UA mommas still keep one nearby. Nonetheless, most midwives will ask for a flashlight to keep an eye on things as your labor progresses. When you’re laboring in a dimly lit room and submerged in water, a little handheld light can help your midwife keep an eye out for tearing, the need for perineal support and of course, baby!

A Handheld Mirror

If you want the same view your midwife is privy to, a little handheld mirror in your tool chest never hurt anyone either.

A Crock-Pot And Washcloths

Any brand will do, but it’s ideal to have a slow cooker on board to stuff full of damp washcloths—and oils if you desire—to be applied to the perineum during labor for extra support.

Baby Receiving Blankets

There should be several baby blankets on deck for baby immediately upon birth. The thin, flannel version is usually best for acting as a bit of a towel at the same time, while keeping heat in rather than making baby colder.

Carve Out A Comfy Spot For The Golden Hour

If you’re not familiar with the terminology, the golden hour is the first hour following birth during which mom and baby lie skin-to-skin, get acquainted and breastfeed.

You’ll want a place that you can transition to outside of the birth pool to be all prepped and ready to go. Some women linger in the birth pool post-birth, but others feel inclined to get out right away—even birthing the placenta on land.

Further, some mommas find it hard to rest comfortably and begin nursing in the water and will want to lie down elsewhere with baby. So, have that spot planned out. Here’s what you’ll need for it.

Chux Pads

Chux pads are a foreign term for many, but really they’re just those not-so-fancy disposable pads that you’d have under your bum on the hospital bed if you were birthing the mainstream way.

A lot of women actually opt for puppy training pads instead of buying the disposable hospital underpads, and you totally have that option.

You want some of these on board, not only for the immediate postpartum spot you get situated in after getting out of the birthing pool, but for the following few days if you’re bleeding heavily, too. They can provide some extra protection for your bedding while you’re lying in.

Warming Foods

While not technically what most would refer to as a “supply,” warming and nourishing foods and broths are best for a momma who has just given birth. (Source) You need to replenish those electrolyte stores and fluids as you start working to build a quality milk supply for your baby.

Trash Bags

While most people would assume these are on the list for the obvious reason, trash bags actually come in handy during a home birth as pillow protectors. If you plan to cozy up in bed for the birth, it’s ideal to have them on your pillows under their pillowcases. But for a water birth, you can also stuff sofa pillows or bedroom pillows into trash bags to protect them from water or other birth fluids.

Don’t Forget About The Labor Experience

Keep in mind that while there is a short list of minimum necessities every home birth depends on, many women opt to add a whole lot more, such as:

What Are You Wearing?

It’s important to lend some thought to what you want to wear while giving birth—even if you end up taking it all off. Whether you’re wanting a well-kempt look that includes a beautiful labor gown, or you’re just fine birthing in a bra and well—just a bra, you’ll want to know what you’re eyeing ahead of time and have it set aside.

Bring A Birth Team On Board, If You So Desire

There are two schools of thought when it comes to home water births. Sometimes, mommas will go unassisted, meaning there are no birth workers present—and sometimes no partner or support person at all.

That said, the majority of mommas who birth at home do so with a midwife. If you want even more support, a doula is a great option. It is estimated around 15 percent of laboring women make use of having a doula with them. (Source) Regardless of how many members are on your birth team, they’ll need the following:

  • A large bowl for the placenta
  • Ammonia or another cleaning agent for laundry
  • A thermometer to check baby’s temperature at birth
  • Snacks for the birth team are always appreciated

Postpartum Pampering Will Go A Long Way For Momma

After the baby arrives, you’ll benefit from having set aside a stockpile of goodies for yourself, too. Grab a comfy set of pajamas or some forgiving yoga pants and a loose tee. At some point, you’re going to want to shower and it’ll feel amazing to put some clothes on that are gentle on your recovering body. In addition, set aside:

  • Pads—cloth or disposable, or adult diapers
  • Padsicles
  • Witch hazel
  • A peri bottle
  • A sitz bath
  • Pain relievers like Arnica 200 or ibuprofen
  • Perineal spray
  • Extra pillows to support your back and arms during nursing sessions
  • Nursing pads
  • Bottomless bottles of water (ahem, drink up)

But Baby Will Need Their Own Bundle Of Goods

While you’re busy tending to every last one of your little one’s needs, you might find that there are a few items that come in handy. When you give birth in a hospital, you are given many of these supplies. Of course, that isn’t to say the hospital just gives them away. You pay for them! Those two tiny pills the nurse brings you postpartum? That’s easily a $30 acetaminophen bill. (Source)

However, when you’re at home, you’ll need to provide these things for yourself. So, get the diapers and wipes ready, as well as an umbilical cord clamp, bottles if you don’t plan to nurse and on that note, formula or donor milk as well. Baby’s first outfit might do well hung up near your birthing pool as motivation during transition.

Part of the fun of planning a home water birth is in the actual planning. Enjoy it! Immerse yourself in it. It’s a little bittersweet when it’s all behind you.

Make sure to pin this post so just in case pregnancy brain set in you’ll have your supply list readily available.

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