pregnant woman sleeping on her side

How to Plan a Home Birth

Just over two per cent of women choose to have a home birth in the UK, and in the US this number drops to less than one per cent. Women who choose home birth often say they feel more comfortable at home, and wanted the birth to take place out of a medical setting. If you are planning a home birth, there are a number of points to consider.

How to plan a home birth:

  1. The location – you need to decide where in your home you’d like to give birth. You will need a private room, so if your living room looks out onto the street and doesn’t have any curtains – it might not be the right option! If you’re planning to give birth in a pool, you’ll need strong floorboards so a downstairs room will probably be best, ideally close to some taps!
  2. The audience – who do you want to be there? Do you want a doula, or your mum or best friend, as well as your partner? If you have any children, do you want them to witness the birth too? Remember, space will play a factor in these decisions, so consider it carefully before setting up the Facebook Event!
  3. The props – the healthcare provider will provide a home birth kit with all the bits they need, but there are things you’ll need to provide yourself. You’ll need some plastic coverings or dust sheets to protect your cream carpets, and plenty of clean towels for after the birth.
  4. Setting the scene – one of the great things about having a home birth, is that you can control the ambience. Do you want candles, fairy lights, music or silence? Try to have all bases covered in case you change your mind on the day.
  5. Ice, ice baby – you will need plenty of ice cubes and drinks of water to keep you hydrated during the birth. Electrolyte replacement drinks are also a good idea for if your energy starts to lag part way through the labour. Some women like to graze on snacks throughout the labour so make sure you have something suitable in, just in case.
  6. Pain relief – If you think you may require painkillers, you may be able to get opiates (such as pethidine) prescribed in advance by your healthcare provider. If you want to use paracetamol, a TENS machine or a birthing pool as pain relief, you will need to organise these yourself.
  7. Tidying up -The downside of a home birth is that there are no hospital cleaners to come and sort out the mess for you afterwards. Luckily, your birth partner is on hand for that job. While you get to know your new baby, your birth partner can quickly dispose of any mess, deflate the pool and get things looking habitable again – ready for the swarm of visitors over the coming weeks.

If you are deemed to have a high risk pregnancy, you are unlikely to be granted a home birth. If you are having a low risk, healthy pregnancy then your healthcare provider should see no problem in granting you a home birth. If there were any complications during the birth, you would be transferred to hospital immediately – so it’s important to have a skilled midwife present. If you have any worries or concerns about planning a home birth, speak to your healthcare provider. They will be able to reassure you and answer any questions you may have.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockHow to Plan a Home Birth

Comments 11

  1. Pingback: Five Reasons to Consider a Home Birth - Health & Parenting

  2. Lucy

    I am a uk midwife and a mother of one with another on the way soon… I think homebirth is a womderful option for many women just not all! As a previous commenter says, it’s a very personal choice and you choose risks wherever you plan to give birth. In my experience things rarely go wrong with a bang there are usually early indications that things are not as they should be or warning signs that things could go wrong which would trigger an advised transfer in to manage those risks.
    For myself, I had a homebirth with my first nearly 2 years ago, it was lovely and my birth went very well, I then had a retained placenta and had to be transferred in a few hours after the birth for an operative removal procedure. This pregnancy my risk of a repeat retained placenta is higher but it’s not a definite, I have chosen another home birth and feel it is the most comfortable place for me to give birth and because I am more relaxed my labour is more likely to progress well because the correct hormones won’t be inhibited by stress… It also provides me the power to be in control of my own birth, of course we all have this power wherever our chosen setting but I feel more empowered to stand by the evidence I’ve read and make my own decisions in my own home!
    I live 5 minutes from my maternity unit though and would gladly transfer in if medically indicated, I trust my midwives to guide me in that decision!

    Importantly it is my choice, or your choice for you, and you need to understand the risks and be competely comfy with your choice…

  3. R.A.

    Thank you for this article, finally someone spoke on this topic! I am going to be 21 weeks tomorrow with my first child. In the USA, Delaware State considers home birth illegal if you have a midwife attend. WHAT?! But at the same time you are free to do it all completely unassisted on your own. This is absolutely ridiculous. As an african-american woman I and my child have the highest risks of death out of all racial groups despite my education and financial status, so I will be staying as far as possible from a hospital, and I’d rather do it at home as the vast majority of my ancestors did. The only compromise I’ve made is to use the only free-standing birth center in the state and labor at home for as long as possible. I don’t care if I start crowning in the car on the way there, I want as much control over how I give birth as possible. We are not sick! Not even if the insurance company considers pregnancy a pre-existing condition and bills it as though it were diabetes or cancer (which they do, by the way).

  4. Danielle

    I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have my children at home..This is my fourth child and second home pregnancy..My first two children were C-section due to inconvenience to my doctors busy schedule..After major complications ,almost death and trying to he forced to have my tubes tied..I vowed if God healed me and allowed me to conceive, I would have my children at home!! I’m weeks away from my second home birth!! Happy and Healthy..Had a textbook delivery with my 3rd child,. Was verry comfortable in my home, pain wasn’t even that bad because I was so comfortable..Birthing pool was a great relief also…I loved the privacy, and confidence I had in my God,husband and midwife!! Something I highly recommend….We are not sick people who need to be sterilized and hospitalized…We are woman having babies!!

  5. Annette

    planning my 4th homebirth. absolutely in love with the personal attention and care provided at home with a skilled midwife. you and your family are the only priority from beginning to end and the comfort, cleanliness, and atmosphere are all in your control. it’s just amazing. don’t let fear rule your choices, read up! and get the facts before ruling this incredible option out 🙂

  6. Tori

    We are planning our 2nd homebirth, 3rd child.
    I love the peaceful atmosphere, the respectful midwife who collaborates with me on my prenatal care, instead of dictating it to me as most physicians do in my area. I am so excited for my older children to be present for the birth as well. I’ve prepared a back up plan and live within 5 minutes from our hospital. I trust our midwife and her assistant and know they have appropriate training to care for me and recognize the need for transfer should it occur.
    In a culture where hospital birthing is the norm, we assume that all births go well there, no injury or death occurs during childbirth, however this is untrue and many women and babies are harmed because of overuse of interventions like induction, epidural and cesarean. You are exposing you and your newborn to possibly deadly, antibiotic resistant bacteria and many other extremely disruptive hospital procedures and protocols.
    Wherever you choose to birth, you choose a set of risks, and I’m very comfortable with the set of risks that come along with the homebirth we are planning.

  7. Mirjam

    I’m from The Netherlands where home birth is actually the regular thing to do. Before you are 12 weeks you apply for a maternity nurse who will assist the midwife in the homebirth. Both are obligated. This is coverd in the health insurance of every dutch woman. As soon as there is any sign of complications you will go to a hospital. And of course, in case of a high risk pregnancy you’re not allowed to give birth at home. My sister in law and a dear friend ended up in the hospital. Everything turned out well. My friend was even able to have her second child at home. I’m about to have my second home birth, and am looking forward to it.

  8. Elainekayes

    I’ve had 3 children already due to have my fourth in 5wks we have put down for our first home birth. I’m very scared but excited too. My children are also excited to know we are letting them be their at their sisters birth. Could anyone give me so advice on home births. Thank you.

  9. Lynsey

    I had to have an emergency transfer to my local maternity unit and ended up having to have blood transfusions after losing nearly 3l of blood. I would strongly advise people to think twice when planning a home birth. Of they go well it must be fabulous , that was my plan, but of it goes wrong it could be catastrophic.

  10. Kelly

    I had a home birth with my youngest and plan to do it again with this one. It was wonderful in everyway. I didn’t have to clean anything after the midwifes took everything away. It was so nice to put my son straight in his crib, no scary car journey with a new born 🙂 I also liked the fact I felt I could do what I wanted as it was my home.

  11. Amy

    I just found out a local hospital in Tampa, FL has a birthing section where midwives deliver, so the patients can try for a natural birth, but be close to a medical team, if necessary. Definitely consider how far your home is from a hospital that does labor & delivery. In an emergency, every minute is critical!