I’ve written a bit about my emotional preparations for the birth of my second baby, but I also put quite a lot of thought into planning the practical aspects of giving birth in my own house. As thousands of women who have unexpectedly had their babies on the bathroom floor will know, as long as you have a clean towel hiding somewhere, you’ll probably be fine, but I enjoyed the process of getting things ready for my planned home birth.
We borrowed the birth pool from my doula, just buying a new liner. We used a fairly small pool, which is relatively fast to fill up, useful for second timers apparently. We had a practice run blowing the pool up, and had a little go at getting the water in. With hindsight I would definitely say that we should have spent more time doing a full fill trial run ahead of time, but you live and learn I guess! We bought a bath thermometer so we could monitor the water temperature. We had a plastic jug to use for pouring water on my back, and a cheap sieve, just in case! We put a waterproof ground sheet, and an old battered blanket that we used when camping, underneath the pool to help contain any mess and make it a little comfier on the lino floor. After the trial run we had all of that neatly folded in its spot, ready to go.
We invested in a couple of super cheap shower curtains, requested donations of old towels and blankets, and bought some toddler bed sheets (essentially inco pads) to aid with the waterproofing/mess containing. I kept the towels in the airing cupboard so they’d be nice and warm when needed.
My Mum donated an old camping mattress to put on the kitchen floor next to the pool. I wasn’t planning on it, but I thought it would be good to have somewhere I could lie down. I’d been told by my midwife that I would have to get out of the pool to deliver the placenta (now I realise this isn’t strictly true) and I thought I may well fancy somewhere close by for a lie-down at that point! The nearest sofa or bed is up a flight of stairs and I didn’t think that would sound very appealing after having just pushed a baby out.
We finally, after two years, got round to putting some curtains up in our kitchen, the cheapest ones we could find, just in case the leaves weren’t out in time to protect our neighbours from a live episode of One Born Every Minute! We hung fairy lights around the walls, still up two years later, and did some furniture rearranging. We have an L shaped kitchen, so put the birth pool at one end, and the kitchen table round the corner at the other end. Our plan was that the table would be used by the midwives to set up any kit, write their notes, and have somewhere to sit, where I wasn’t in their direct view. I’d heard it was good to have them in a whole separate room, but as we only have the kitchen on our ground floor, I thought a separate floor might be pushing it!
I wrote door labels for all the rooms so that the midwives could easily find the bathroom etc. Our house is a bit of an odd layout so people tend to get confused. I didn’t want to be giving house tours while in labour! I wrote out my positive birth affirmations and put them around the walls, and wrote a very succinct, bullet point birth plan on a big bit of bright orange card, which I stuck up in an obvious spot so I wouldn’t have to go through it myself between contractions.
I assembled what I called my birth bag, which was kept in the kitchen, with some simple bits that I might need if I did transfer to hospital, but also the things I was planning to use at home. That way it was all together and if I did need to transfer I wouldn’t be rushing around finding things, but I also didn’t let it make me fixate on the chances of transferring.
I had sweet almond oil and clarey sage essential oil ready to use for massage in labour, my doula is a genius when it comes to massage! I had raw honey to eat by the spoonful to keep my energy levels up during labour, some lollipops, nuts, cereal bars and fruity sweets. I had frozen ice cubes of coconut water and raspberry leaf tea to keep me hydrated and cool. I had 200cc Arnica tablets to take every hour or so during labour, to try and help with the subsequent healing process. We bought a clean washing up basin and two little bins with lids to store the placenta or any nasties that needed disposing of!
I had also done just a little bit of cake baking with cakes that store well (as close as I will ever get to nesting), and bought in supplies of tea and biscuits to keep everybody else going through however long my labour turned out to be. I have been reliably informed that midwives run exclusively on tea and biscuits and I have not heard anything to the contrary yet! What more could we possibly need…