Thinking about a home birth? Already have your heart set on this amazing birth experience?

The decision to have a home birth is thrilling and empowering for so many mommas.

But, it can also feel a bit overwhelming to plan and execute. Home birth isn’t the norm here in U.S. And because of this, resources and actionable advice to make it happen can be tricky to find!

Let’s change that today.

Here you’ll find the 12 essential steps to plan the perfect home birth:

  1. Do your research
  2. Find out if you are a candidate for home birth
  3. Contact your insurance company
  4. Choose the perfect midwife
  5. Receive prenatal care
  6. Get your body ready for natural birth
  7. Start working on a birth plan
  8. Take a natural childbirth class
  9. Hire a doula
  10. Finalize your birth plan and your ‘plan b’
  11. Prepare your birth space
  12. Have your perfect home birth!

With this guide, you’ll know you’ve done everything necessary for a safe and stress-free home birth.

Each step plays a critical role in achieving a safe home birth, so let’s unpack each one. We’ll discuss how and why you need to include each of these steps as you prepare for your big day.

12 Steps to the Perfect Home Birth

1. Do your research

As you begin your journey towards a home birth, it’s best to start with some thorough research. Birth is a big deal! Before you dive too deep into this whole “home birth” thing you want to really understand what you’re getting yourself into how amazing this is going to be!

Learn about home birth laws in your state

Something that’s really interesting about home birth is that there is no federal legislation on the matter. States vary significantly on whether or not they allow planned home births, mostly in the aspects of: who can attend them, and how you are determined to be a safe candidate for home birth.

This is largely because the midwives who typically attend home births, Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), are only recognized as medical professionals that can legally attend home births in some states. While Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are legally recognized in every U.S. state, most do not attend home births and work in hospitals instead.

A great place to start your research is with the Midwives Alliance of North America’s database of midwifery resources and laws by state. This will help you determine if planned home birth is possible in your state, and who needs to attend the birth to make it a (legal) reality.

Learn about who can deliver your baby at home

Generally, if you are having a home birth you will need to hire a midwife to attend your birth. Above, I mentioned the two most common types of midwives, Certified Professional Midwives and Certified Nurse Midwives.

What’s the difference between CNMs and CPMs?

  • CNMs are registered nurses with a master’s degree in midwifery nursing from an accredited program. CNMs have a professional medical background they’ve learned in medical school. These midwives almost exclusively work in OB/GYN offices and deliver in hospital settings.
  • CPMs are not medical nurses. However, these birth professionals receive their training and certificates through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). Their certification includes coursework and a lengthy apprenticeship program. CPMs are the women who are specifically trained, experienced and passionate about attending home births.

It’s good to have a working knowledge of the difference when it comes to choosing the perfect midwife for your home birth in step four below.

Understand the pros and cons of home birth

There are a number of pros and benefits associated with birthing at home, but it’s also important to understand that in emergency situations, there can be risks.

Overall, if your pregnancy is considered low-risk, and you hire an experienced midwife, research suggests that it is just as safe to deliver at home as it is to deliver in a hospital.

Some stand-out benefits of a home birth?

  • Birth without medical interventions
  • Birth in the comfort of your own home
  • Lower rates of newborns admitted into the ICU
  • Significantly lowers rates of C-sections
  • Individualized one-on-one care in the comfort of your own home
  • Greater breastfeeding success
  • Lower instances of postpartum depression

Starting to feel like a home birth actually could be your reality? Right on, Momma! Let’s keep going.

2. Find out if you are a candidate for home birth

Before you get too excited, let’s determine if home birth is a safe option for you. You’ll remember that I just said for women considered ‘low-risk’ research has found home birth to be just as safe as a hospital birth.

In some cases, you may begin your pregnancy and prenatal care in preparation of a planned home birth, but complications may arise later in pregnancy. For these reasons, diligent prenatal care leading up to your home birth is important. You’ll want to know risks as soon as they arise so that your birth is as safe as possible.

An experienced midwife will be skilled at determining if home birth is a safe option right up until your due date. They will know when risks arise that no longer make it safe and will advise you to plan for a hospital birth instead.

When is home birth probably not an option?

  • You have a preexisting medical condition that would require advanced medical monitoring during birth
  • You have diabetes or gestational diabetes
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You are pregnant with multiples
  • You have preeclampsia
  • Baby is not in the right position for vaginal birth
  • You go into labor before 37 weeks
  • You’ve gone past your due date by over a week
  • You’ve had past pregnancies with complications

Who is a good candidate for a home birth?

  • No pre-existing medical conditions
  • No risks or medical conditions brought on by pregnancy
  • Pregnant with one baby
  • Reaches 37 weeks’ gestation and doesn’t go beyond 41 weeks
  • Goes into labor spontaneously
  • Is interested in natural childbirth
  • Is willing to take a leading role in the preparations leading up to birth

Feeling like you fit the bill? Awesome! Step three is all about finances.

3. Contact your insurance company

We can’t have you planning a home birth, or even getting too excited about interviewing potential midwives, until you understand the costs associated with home birth.

There’s no one answer to whether or not your home birth will be covered by insurance. The quickest way to find out is to call your insurance company directly.

If you and your partner have different providers, research both plans. It might make sense to switch to your partner’s insurance if theirs will cover a home birth! If you are on top of this from the start, you can easily switch during open enrollment.

When insurance providers do cover home birth, it might be in the form of reimbursement after the fact. They also might require specific documentation of your eligibility for home birth.

What if my insurance provider doesn’t cover home birth?

If your insurance doesn’t cover home birth, don’t write it off just yet! In many cases home birth is still cheaper than an insurance-covered hospital birth. Especially if you are on a high-deductible type insurance plan.

Home births typically cost between $2000-$4000. This usually includes all of your prenatal care and a few postpartum follow-up visits as well.

Once you do the math on your insurance coverage for prenatal care and a hospital delivery, you might find the cost to be around the same or even higher than a home birth.

4. Choose the perfect midwife

Alright, now that you’ve got a handle on your insurance coverage for home birth, it’s time to select a midwife! Your midwife is really the heart of your home birth. You want to choose someone that’s experienced and professional. But you should also put a lot of weight on someone who’s personality clicks with yours and puts you at ease.

How do I find a midwife for my home birth?

  • Utilize online databases to search for midwives in your area
  • Ask around at local places that serve prenatal and postpartum women for recommendations
  • Check out social media groups specific to your area that lean more towards “crunchy” parenting. Put up a post with your query and you’ll get lots of wonderful recommendations

What do I do once I have a list of candidates?

  1. Check out your potential midwives online as much as possible. Many midwives have websites that include testimonials and information about their services and rates
  2. Arrange some midwifery interviews. Be sure to ask lots of questions upfront so that you fully understand their experience, expertise and personality
  3. Be sure that the midwife you’ve selected is available during your birth month
  4. Move forward with receiving prenatal care from you selected midwife

To complete this step to its full potential, be sure to read our complete guide to choosing the perfect midwife. You’ll find more information about different types of midwives, what questions to ask in your interview, and what you can expect your midwife to provide for your home birth.

5. Receive prenatal care

Now that you’ve chosen your perfect midwife, you will get the ball rolling on prenatal care. By now, you’ll know where prenatal visits take place. Some midwives will come to your home, others have their own office, and some do prenatal care in an affiliated birth center.

As you prepare for your home birth, you should stick to the prenatal care schedule that your midwife recommends. This will ensure that your midwife is constantly checking your eligibility for a safe home birth.

Throughout your pregnancy you will want to ask your midwife lots of thoughtful questions. Doing this will help you get the most out of your visits and calm your mind as birth approaches.

During your prenatal care visits, you and your midwife can discuss medically routine procedures under conventional prenatal care that might not be necessary. These may include:

  • The 12-week ultrasound and NT scan
  • The 20-week anatomy scan
  • Alternatives to the gestational diabetes screening

As your pregnancy progresses, you will also spend a lot of time in the third trimester discussing your birth plan, creating alternative plans should you need to deliver in a hospital, and preparing for life postpartum.

6. Get your body ready for natural birth

As you begin step six, your pregnancy is likely well underway. You know at this point if home birth is still a safe option for you. This is an excellent time to start getting your body ready for a natural birth.

There are lots of amazing prenatal fitness options available online and in person. Prenatal yoga and fitness classes are a great way to connect with other pregnant mommas in your area. If you can’t find a class that works with your schedule, try something online. You might even find an option that specifically targets pregnant women who want a natural birth.

If regimented exercise or even yoga has never been your thing, challenge yourself to move a little more each day. Incorporating a daily walk into your routine, swimming, or stretching will all help to prepare your body for your natural childbirth.

The more limber and toned you can keep your muscles during pregnancy, the better prepared you’ll be for the marathon of birth.

7. Start working on a birth plan

Once you hit your third trimester, full on planning mode begins. For your home birth, you will spend a lot of time working on your birth plan. You should have a timeline in mind of when to call your midwife and when she will arrive at your birth.

Having an idea of your childbirth goals and the type of birth you wish to have (water birth, etc), will help you choose a childbirth class that will set you up for success.

Be sure to involve your partner in your birth plan process. He will be your number one supporter so it’s important that he shares your vision.

Your birth plan should also include decisions about immediate newborn care procedures like breastfeeding, immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, delayed bathing, etc.

Finally, it’s smart to include general postpartum care wishes in your birth plan as well. Researching and creating a thoughtful, detailed and complete plan for birth and the weeks after birth will help you achieve the birth you desire.

8. Take a natural childbirth class

Momma, please don’t skip this step. Especially if this is your first birth or your first home birth! Simply wanting a natural birth will only get you so far. Taking a childbirth class specific to natural birth will provide you with the necessary knowledge, pain management strategies, and mental confidence to achieve this goal!

What’s more, most of the natural childbirth classes available online are geared for couples. This means that the class will also educate and empower your partner to support you during this endeavor.

When choosing a childbirth class, find one specific to the birth you desire. Choose a class that incorporates pain-management techniques and practice sessions. You don’t simply want a class that teaches the timeline of birth, especially because most of those are specific to hospital births.

Invest in a birth class that will teach you how to thrive in your natural birth!

9. Hire a doula

This is an optional step, but hiring a doula winds up being a wonderful resource for many women in their home births. Doulas are trained birth professionals whose sole focus will be on supporting you and your partner during childbirth in whatever way you want.

Doulas do not take the place of a midwife during birth. Instead, they are there to help you feel more comfortable and supported during birth. If you thrive on the energy of supportive people and encouragement, a doula might be a wonderful addition to your birth team.

If you are someone who values privacy and might feel overwhelmed by having too many people present for your home birth, then you may feel more comfortable birthing with only your partner and midwife.

10. Finalize your birth plan and your ‘plan b’

When you are preparing for birth, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your birth wishes will be your reality. Believe me, we are ALL rooting for you to have the birth you desire. With the right preparations you will be even more likely to have this.

However, it’s SO important to make a plan for the birth you don’t want as well. It might be even more important in a home birth, because if things go awry, a hospital transfer may be necessary.

You and your midwife should have detailed plans of what a hospital transfer might look like during labor, for mom right after birth, or for baby right after birth.

Be sure to ask lots of questions about emergency situations and hospital transfers such as:

  • Do you have admittance rights to a specific hospital?
  • Do you have an OB/GYN that you typically work with?
  • What events during home birth will lead to a hospital transfer?
  • What equipment will you have on site during my home birth for emergency situations?
  • What experience and specific training do you have related to home birth emergencies?

An additional part of this step? Pack a basic hospital bag for you and your partner and put it in your car at 37 weeks. You don’t want to be worried about packing a phone charger, snacks, and comfy postpartum pants in the event of a hospital transfer. It’s always better to be prepared for every scenario. Hopefully you won’t ever need it 🙂

11. Prepare your birth space

One of the best parts about having a home birth is preparing your birth space exactly the way you want it. Of course, your midwife will recommend some home birth essentials, but the fun part will be filling your space with items that inspire you, calm you, and will aid in your pain management.

What are some items you may want to include in your birth space beyond the essentials?

  • Aromatherapy candles
  • Playlists of music you love
  • Essential oil diffuser
  • Birthing ball
  • Yoga mat
  • Massage oils
  • Extra Pillows
  • Birth Affirmations (in the form of cards, posters, mantras)
  • A birth inspiration board
  • A mirror for seeing baby’s head

Your home birth is your unique experience. Your birthing space should be prepared with things that will make you most comfortable.

12. Have your perfect home birth!

Woohoo, Momma! By following these 12 steps you’ll KNOW you are totally prepared for your home birth. You’ll have carefully planned, researched, and executed every necessary component for the perfect home birth.

By taking your time and completing each step thoroughly, you’ll have also aided in the mental preparation that goes in home birth.

As you make your way through the steps outlined in the article, make sure it’s easy to reference by pinning it to your home birth Pinterest board!

Also, don’t miss out on all of our other great resources on the topic of home birth. Many of them are a more in-depth look at each of these steps plus you’ll find loads more!

Good luck, Momma! You’re gonna rock this home birth thing 🙂

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