Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to UC: Birth Supplies

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about what equipment we had on hand for my prenatal care. This week continues on with birth equipment.

When I was reflecting on Margaret's birth, I was amazed at how little we really needed. Most of our "equipment" were extraneous wants. For example, I didn't really need a tub; I could have had a land birth and Margaret would have still been born.

But here's what we had or are planning to have this next time.

Labor Management
We used some cheap washcloths for warm compresses during my back labor. As far as food and drink- we had some leftovers in the fridge that were always ready to be heated up and also juice and electrolyte drinks for hydration. And my friend brought donuts on Saturday morning. Need those carbs for fuel!

Water Birth Equipment
We borrowed a tub from someone who had recently had a homebirth. The model happens to be the one seen here. While I'm sure the fancier tubs are very luxurious and nice, this one was large and deep enough that I didn't feel hindered nor did I think, "Gosh, it would be nice to have a deeper pool." If we go with a water birth this time, we'll probably buy that same model for the sake of cost and that it can be used as a kiddie pool in the future.

We borrowed an air pump for blowing up the pool. It was very handy and needed to prevent McKay from dying while getting the tub ready. We own one now for future use.

We used our large stock pot to fill the tub with water and to boil water on the stove to keep the tub warm.

Water Control
We gathered up a few different waterproof items to lay under the tub and to line the path from the tub to the bathroom so I could get up and not get our carpet all wet. We bought an ugly, on clearance, flannel-backed, waterproof table cloth to put under one side of the pool. We also bought a bunch of clearance bath towels for water spills. They were handy during the pushing stage when I wasn't being careful about leaning on the edge of the pool. The walkway to the bathroom was lined with chux pads, which are just rectangular incontinence pads.

Disinfecting and Stains
We used peroxide to clean the tub both before and after the birth. Also, peroxide will get blood stains out of the carpet if needed. For Margaret's birth it was all contained in the tub and the only blood on the outside of the tub were just a few drops when I moved from the tub to the couch after she was born. McKay cleaned those up with peroxide and you'd never know a baby was born there. In fact, the next day, the only evidence of a birth was the wet spot on the carpet from my pushing stage when I wasn't being careful about keeping water in the tub- and that was blood-free water.

When the placenta was released, we caught it in a large mixing bowl. From there we transferred it to our 9x13 pan. The placenta was surprisingly large- the size of a dinner plate- so the 9x13 pan was good for inspecting it. I may also get some herbs for hemorrhage.

Clamping and Cutting the Cord
We used cotton yarn to clamp Margaret's cord and some never-before-used meat scissors (boiled) for cutting it. Those scissors have only been used that one time, but will probably prove useful this summer.

For Margaret's birth, I didn't have much on hand for this aspect, but this time I'll be a little more prepared. We have already acquired a large handheld mirror from the dollar store for the purpose of assessing any tears. As for repairing tears, we will buy some liquid bandaid stuff and have some seaweed (like the kind for making sushi) for healing. If it's a particularly bad tear that requires stitches, I'll get help for that. If I were to give birth in Utah, I know a midwife I can call for stitches, but unfortunately, we'll be in California. I'm not sure if I'll be able to set up a similar arrangement since some midwives aren't fans of being used for a la carte care. We'll see how that pans out in the future. Ideally, I won't tear at all. I'm still debating whether or not I want to do any perineal massage during the pregnancy. We might have some olive oil on hand during the birth for that purpose if I do decide to go that route.

How it all worked out
McKay did all the cleaning. I think on some level, the manual labor required was therapeutic for him in processing the birth. Any chux pads and towels with blood on them were wrapped up in the table cloth and put out in the dumpster. The towels that were simply wet with water were kept and we still use them today. It's always useful to have extra towels on hand with babies and kids. For over a year, I slept on one of those towels because I had such overactive letdown at night. McKay emptied the tub manually with bowls of water and scrubbed it out with the peroxide.

Other Options
Some people use those green fish tank nets for removing various bits out of the tub. I was pleasantly surprised that I never did poop during the birth, so that wasn't a problem and we just used a bowl to scoop up my mucous plug. We could have used a hose for draining the water, but we didn't and it was fine. If it had been warmer and we had a yard, we probably would have just dumped the pool out on the grass. And there's always the option of having the baby in the bath tub and just washing all the mess away. How easy! Also, you can buy homebirth kits, but we decided that most of the supplies were unnecessary for us. Why would we need latex gloves to catch and hold our own baby? Instead of using a plastic cord clamp, we used yarn just as effectively. We decided to keep it simple.


  1. Our supply list for birthing is pretty bare bones,too. I scoured thrift stores & such for old towels & washcloths, mattress pads,etc in the months before the birth. We covered the bed with a Twister mat for waterproofing...LOL. That's what my youngest ended up being born on ;-)

    There wasn't much else that I found we needed. We used hubby's hunting knife to cut the cord, a big tupperware container for the placenta and that was about it. I had a lot of prepared herbal teas on hand in case I needed them but never used any of them.

  2. I drank diluted pineapple and coconut juice all through labour. I just decided when I was pregnant that this was going to be my labour drink, and it was. It is packed with electrolytes but more importantly it is yummy and gentle on your stomach. Even now, when I drink it, I think of my labour. If I ever do have another baby I will be sure to stock up on it again - I think I now have a superstitious *need* to have it during childbirth.

  3. Just a funny tidbit to share. A friend had a homebirth a few months ago. Her partner was getting ready to catch the baby and suddenly noticed everyone else was wearing gloves. As he tells it, "it was pretty messy down there and I was like, hey, why don't I get gloves" And then the baby slid out so fast they had to elbow him out of the way and catch his son themselves. Anyway, luckily they joke about it now. But I thought it was kind of funny.

  4. You amaze me woman! I'm so sad you're moving and I won't get to know you better! I wish I'd started going to playgroup sooner. I'm going to read up your blog some more in search of how you find your info. I am so impressed by your doing unassisted homebirths! AND that your husband supports you with it.


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