Thursday, 23 April 2009


Midwife Virginia from the Kent Midwifery Practice says:

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 it’s easily

There are lots of things that women may want to have ready such as
CD’s 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

In the Birth Box I suggest a few pieces of plastic sheet the size of a
fire side rug and an old sheet to cover them. One can be for birthing on and
another to put on sofa or bed for afterwards when blood loss may still be heavy.

If having a water birth as many old towels as possible as women are often in and
out. Towels then get wet and we constantly need dry ones. I reassure them they
do not have to be new towels, try and borrow or use old ones. They wash
perfectly well after, even if they get blood stained but best not to use pastel
colours or they will look pretty dull after the wash. Although ever aware of the
environmental issues and cost I just love disposable bed mats meant for
incontinence in the young or elderly. They are the perfect size for birthing and
fantastic at keeping new babies warm. They save on lots of work too. Can be
bought in Boots, Mothercare, supermarkets etc 2 packets serve well.

Container for placenta: I always suggest an old 1 litre ice cream box and this is
especially good if you are keeping your placenta. NHS midwives usually carry
yellow bags for the placenta if they are taking it away for disposal.

A bucket: I use a bucket with some water in for all sorts! Vomiting is very common in labour and so too is passing faeces. Both can be quickly disposed of in the bucket.

Sanitary towels: at least 3 packets to start but only put one packet in the box.
Leave another in every toilet and in the bathroom. Be sure they are the biggest,
thickest maternity ones you can find. Even if you usually only purchase slim
thin types they will not do for the immediate post partum period. Find your
oldest big knickers and put a couple of pairs in your box. Some women purchase
disposable ones but I find they are only good for slim women.

Put your nice warm dressing gown away and have a short light front opening top to put on after the birth. Partner’s short sleeve shirts are a good example. If you put your long thick dressing gown on it may get bloody very quickly and that is a whole load of washing. With a short outfit you can sit on the sofa or bed directly onto a
towel or bed mat.

For baby: all you need initially is a nappy and a warm light
blanket. The fewer clothes the better to start as this will encourage skin to
skin contact. Dressing him or her can come much later.

A cord tie: if you are using your own ribbon or tie then that will need to be in the box. A birth plan: if the midwife is not someone you know and who knows you she will need to read your birth plan so make sure it is in your box. Give someone the role of going through it with her if you have a birth partner, friend or mother with you.

Lastly put a small thin blanket or throw over the box so that one is handy in
case you are waiting around for the placenta or you feel shivery after the
birth, which is very common. A light cover will make you feel very cosy without
over heating you.

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.

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