The time has come to prepare! I love preparing! I am now 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant – which means my pregnancy is only days from being considered “full term.”
I’ve noticed a rather significant difference in how I’ve been feeling the last few days. I feel more focused, more sure of myself, more aware, and more energized to get things done.
I’ve also been experiencing more frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions as well as sciatica. Ryan keeps asking if my belly has grown (sometimes, he asks every few hours) and I honestly feel like the answer is YES! I grow bigger every few hours! I’m slowly inflating and I feel so BIG!
I spent quite a bit of time on a few homebirth forums today because I wanted to be sure that I will be thoroughly prepared – not only with my birth kit, but also with any extra supplies for labor, delivery, and postpartum. I was overwhelmed by the many suggestions, but made a list and researched the ones that seemed especially notable. I then made a shopping list, went to three separate stores, and bought everything I think I’ll be needing!
Oh, and I backed into another car in one of the parking lots! Fun (not!). Neither of us saw each other and simply hit each other’s bumper. I scratched her car, mine got scratched (I think – our car is already pretty scratched), and I almost broke down into sobs over it. Almost. And she said she’s not going to report it! She was amazingly kind! Anyway – that’s another story for another time.
I decided to post some details about my supplies because I thought it might be helpful for those of you planning/considering a homebirth. After Forrest arrives and I’ve settled in a bit, I will do a follow-up post to let you know which items worked/didn’t work, were helpful/unnecessary, and/or were forgotten. Oh, and if you’ve had a homebirth, be sure to chime in about any additional items or helpful hints!
By the way, I’ve emboldened each supply for easy list-making!
15 deluxe underpads (23×36)
2 plastic-backed sheets (I’ve been told to put a sheet set on my mattress, lay down the plastic-backed sheet(s), and then make the bed with a second set of sheets. I may spend some time (before, during or after) on the bed and want it to be comfy but protected…when all is over, we can simply remove any soiled sheets, the plastic-backed sheets, and viola – there are clean sheets beneath)
12 gauze sponges, 4×4, sterile
15 alcohol prep pads
24 OB adhesive pads (basically, nighttime maxi pads)
1 peri bottle
1 scrub brush, Hibiclens, sterile
1 4-oz. Povidone
1 bulb syringe
2 cord clamps, plastic, sterile
6 3-gram packages of lubrication jelly
2 flexible straws
1 disposable footprinter
1 “birth certificate”
1 stretch brief
1 infant tape measure
6 gloves, sterile, single
3 gloves, sterile, pairs
1 infant hat
1 8-oz herbal after birth bath
1 labor support guide
Besides those things, I knew I needed lots of towels and receiving blankets. I already have dozens of cheap, too-small receiving blankets from Jack’s early days, and we have plenty of cheap towels, so I folded them all up and laid them in a box. I’ve read that these are used during labor (especially waterbirths) and that midwives can easily use up 6 towels and 10 receiving blankets in an average birth.
Today, my research led me to purchase quite a few items that I didn’t realize I’d need/want. Below you’ll find photos of some of my supplies, along with an explanation for a few specific items.
Here is a photo of everything I’ve got, including my birth kit (please excuse the myriad of stains on the carpet).
This is a closer view, in case the previous photo wasn’t clear enough!
Now, let me explain a couple of things.
These are the towels and receiving blankets. I’ve got them all in a box together – ready and accessible so that my midwife and Ryan can easily find them.
The blue things are the underpads (also known as chux pads), the plastic-backed sheets are on top of the underpads, and draped over the chair is, of course, my white Essential Nursing Tank from Bravado!
This is the gown I bought for Forrest – it says “welcome to the world” and I love it. We found that gowns were our favorite newborn attire – other than a simple diaper – because of frequent diaper changes. There are no snaps or zippers to deal with and well, gowns are just adorable!
Babies lose lots of heat through their heads, which is why it’s so common to see newborns with little hats on. This is the hat from our birth kit and I cannot believe how tiny it is! Jack’s newborn hat is about the same size, and it was big on him – but for some reason, it’s hard for me to imagine that Forrest will actually be so small. 🙂
This is the “birth certificate” from our birth kit, and I happen to love it. It has a space for his footprints on either side, and Psalms 127:3-5 written at the top. This obviously isn’t an essential supply, but I know I’m going to cherish it!
Oh yes, I did. Your eyes do not deceive you. Out of all the suggestions I found today, the most common was, “Buy Depend disposable underwear!” Although I’m not much of a supporter of disposable products, most women said they only used a few from their package and were so grateful for them during early postpartum. They didn’t have to worry about messing with the normal mesh panties, there was no leaking, and they simply felt protected. I haven’t had the chance or funds to purchase/make my own postpartum mama pads, and actually, I also read that lochia (“lochia” is the name for postpartum bleeding, for those of you who are scratching your heads in confusion) is high in bacteria – bacteria that happens to grow more rapidly on cloth! I decided that it would be worth $10 and a little embarrassment to just go ahead and buy the Depends. I chose to be confident so that I wouldn’t back down, but I have to admit that it was very comical to see everyone’s awkward expressions as they watched Jack and I march through the store with a package of adult disposable underwear. Poor them!
I’d never heard of Arnica before, but it turns out that it’s a very effective homeopathic remedy for pain relief. It works from the inside out – helping to heal your body from bruising, stiffness and aches. Many women reported that this was a very helpful supply, and I would much rather take Arnica than Advil.
When I was sick with the flu about a year ago, my mom went to our local health food store to see if she could find some kind of healthy energy drink for me. She asked if they stocked something similar to Gatorade, and an employee explained that Gatorade is full of chemicals and isn’t really that good for you, except that it contains electrolytes. So, instead of some sugary, chemical-y energy drink, they suggested packets of Ultima. Ultima is a zero sugar, naturally sweet electrolyte drink powder full of good vitamins and minerals. It really helped to re-energize me when I had that flu, and I tucked the information in the back of my mind because I knew I’d want to drink Ultima in my next labor. When I was in labor with Jack, my midwife told me to drink Gatorade. This time around, I understand the effects of the ingredients in such drinks and I do not want to put anything like that into my body! I bought Trader Joe’s electrolyte-enhanced water, and will be adding a packet of Ultima to the electrolyte water to keep myself hydrated during labor.
One of my favorite supplies from when I had Jack was the herbal sitz bath my midwife gave me. I was so excited to see that there was an After Birth Bath included in my birth kit. I purchased a sitz bath from In His Hands when I ordered my birth kit, and I’m very excited to use it. Not only does the herbal combination help to heal and soothe perineal discomfort, it’s also great for aiding the healing of baby’s cord stump. I used the herbs primarily in the sitz bath, but I also drew a shallow bath in the tub and poured the herbal “tea” in there once a day so that Jack and I could soak together. Jack’s cord stump fell off in less than three days! I highly recommend purchasing an herbal After Birth Bath (and a sitz bath, if you don’t have one!). I hope it’s just as helpful this time around!
In addition to the things pictured above, I bought:
Witch hazel astringent – for compresses to help heal and soothe perineal scrapes, tears, or swelling, and for treating baby’s cord stump
Peppermint essential oil – for aromatherapy with nausea during labor (it worked wonders when I was in labor with Jack…I was a transition barfer!) and for aromatherapy in the case of urinary retention (weird, I know!)
Vitamin E oil – for massaging during labor and for a possible postpartum peri-bottle solution – half water/half oil and chopped ginger root
Liquid chlorophyll – used for hemmorhage prevention, helps increase hemoglobin, and is used instead of an iron supplement because iron is not as easily absorbed by the body. It also has a mild laxative effect. I used alfalfa pills for these purposes during my pregnancy and postpartum period with Jack, but I thought I’d try something new this time around. The alfalfa did work, and I bought liquid chlorophyll that’s made from alfalfa. We’ll see!
Small mesh strainer – as gross as it may sound, a strainer is needed for waterbirths because, well…to be blunt, there can be floaters! Pushing a baby out is a lot like pushing out a big ol’ poo and sometimes, both happen at the same time! The strainer is good for quick clean-up so that no one gets grossed out! 🙂
Mother’s Milk tea – promotes healthy lactation and worked very well when I was nursing Jack!
Orange juice – I’ve read in many different books and on many different websites that it’s very important to drink some kind of fruit juice after giving birth because of decreased blood sugar – namely, orange juice. We’ll all be drinking a celebratory glass after Forrest makes his way out!
In addition to all that, it’s important to have some food stocked for during and after labor. Not only can I guarantee that I’ll need food, but I know that my birth team will need nourishment, too! I baked a batch of bran muffins and froze them. I’ve asked my mom to make a hearty soup that we can freeze, and I plan on defrosting it for the after-birth-meal. I also bought some all-dried-fruit pieces for snacking and I plan to keep my pantry stocked with salted, roasted whole peanuts (something we keep on hand, anyway).
I’m going to be making a list of music to play (if I feel so inclined to listen) during labor, and I will be informing my mom of where the tealights are located in the event of a nighttime labor (I love candlelight).
I have heard that an exercise ball is helpful during labor, and I’ve also received valid warning to have an emergency bag packed in case of a hospital transfer.
That’s all for now – I’ll let you know if I add anything else in there! Please, experienced homebirthers – share your experience and suggestions!