Home Birth Equipment List

This page is intended as a 'shopping list' for you to tick off items which you may want to have ready for a home birth. The items listed are just suggestions, taken mainly from the page on Practical Preparation for Home Birth - it is certainly not necessary to have most of them. Complementary therapies are mentioned because some women find them helpful, but they are not necessarily effective or right for everyone, and I do not intend to endorse them by listing them here. Delete those you don't fancy.

Towards the end of this page you'll find some comments from midwives Mary Cronk and Virginia Howes on what they recommend women provide before a homebirth.

Essential Items

These can be put in an emergency bag, if you decide to pack one. Otherwise it might help to have them all in one place so your birth partner can find them for you.

General:

Complementary Therapies, if they appeal to you:

What do Midwives say you need?

Virginia Howes, an independent midwife belonging to the Kent Midwifery Practise, has this to say:

What do women need for a homebirth?

Not much in fact. The most important thing is a plastic sheet to protect floors, sofas and beds, and some soft covering like old sheets or towels. And then lots of nice little touches like music and candles for atmosphere, comfort foods and drinks, ice cubes, hot water bottle for example to help with labour.

I asked Virginia if she could go into some more detail, as a midwife's perspective is particularly helpful:

For a homebirth I always reassure women that most items needed can be found around the home, as I don't like to think they are put at extra cost or inconvenience. However most women like to get things ready and it appeals to their nesting instincts. I suggest putting a box together so itís easily accessible. There is nothing worse for me than when I ask a woman where her knickers are and she says:

"Room at top of stairs on the left, cupboard on the right, open the left door and third drawer down under the greyish bras and there are my old knickers!!!"

Phew - by the time I get up the stairs I have forgotten the instructions!

There are lots of things that women may want to have ready such as CDs, candles, nice foods, drinks, cool sprays etc, but for the actual birth from a practical point these are the things I would like to see put together in one place.

So, in the birth box:

You will probably have a "just in case" bag packed, although some women prefer not to do this. It will depend on each individual's opinion and her attitude towards the psychology of the whole issue of transfer. As a midwife, when I have to transfer a woman to hospital there is sometimes difficulty in finding her some clothes and shoes to put on, when she may have been naked, at the same time as calling for an ambulance, caring for her and informing the hospital we are coming! Think ahead as it may not be about transfer, it may be getting some clothes on to go for a walk outside. Put a comfy pair of shoes and a loose track suit ready near the box.

Virginia Howes

Kent Midwifery Practice
www.kentmidwiferypractice.co.uk

NB Virginia has now developed the Howes Birth Mirror, which is a stainless-steel mirror, angled to make it easier for mother or midwife to watch the baby.

More suggestions from midwife Mary Cronk are on a separate page, together with a list of the equipment which Mary takes to births.

External Links

There is a UK company selling boxed sets for home birth - see www.homebirthkits.com/

Mary Cronk's Website

Virginia Howes - Kent Midwifery Practice

Virginia Howes and Kay Hardie are campaigning to make Independent Midwives' services freely available to all women on their website, Kent Midwifery Practice.

Howes Birth Mirror, a stainless-steel mirror, angled to make it easier for mother or midwife to watch the baby.

Virginia Howes has contributed to this website on several other subjects - mess at a homebirth, and induction of labour.


You might also find the pages on Practical Preparation for Home Birth, Home Birth Plans and Antenatal Preparation for Home Birth interesting.

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This page updated 2 November 2008.

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