I have had 4 successful home births, including one unplanned free birth because baby came 10 to 15 minutes before the midwife got there. After hiring midwives in three different states and going through the birthing process so many times, I have not just followed their own lists of what they want in a home birth kit, but I have added my own supplies as well.
So whether you’re hiring a midwife or preparing for unassisted birth, here are the best medical and simply practical items to order for your home birth kit.
*A note on freebirthing or unassisted labor and delivery: I personally choose to have a midwife, but my 4th kiddo was unassisted because he showed up before the midwife and was a precipitous labor so we’re always planning just in case. Also, research shows that “while there aren’t exact numbers for how many [home births] were purposefully unassisted births, data indicates that back in 2007, up to 33 percent of all home births in the United States were unassisted.” I would say with the changing climate of the medical system, this number has only grown.
Related: Why I chose a Midwife and Home Birth
Links to Amazon are affiliate links: we earn from qualifying purchases. I will also say that for all 4 home births I have also purchased at least half of my supplies through In His Hands and have been pleased with quality and prices!
All the basic home birth supplies you’ll need
- Blankets and towels to wrap baby in to keep warm. Babies in general cannot regulate their temperature very well. SKin-to-skin contact with mom and dad is most important, but hadding exterior layers is also immensely helpful!
- Pads can be either mama cloth or disposable pads, but they are great to have on hand. Remember that the wound inside of the uterus from the placenta is the size of a dinner plate. And you will bleed until it really starts healing up. I found with my fifth baby that I actually liked adult diapers better than traditional pads.
- A shower curtain, plastic table cloth, or other plastic sheeting for mattress and/or floor. We grabbed a full mattress bag and then some thick shower curtains. They’re just such a good floor throw if you’re using a birthing stool or birthing anywhere but in the tub. Here is the shower curtain we have used for several births – it’s inexpensive and thick.
- Washcloths have many applications when home birthing. My favorite is in a slow cooker on the lowest setting with water. They become compresses during birth on the low back, especially during back labor but they also can be used to clean up or be used as compresses for the breast in postpartum. I ordered a big new pack for each birth.
- Snacks are a no-brained, but if you’re used to a hospital setting, it may actually slip your mind. Honey sticks, supplies for smoothies, and other high-energy, easy-to-digest foods and juices are what I always keep on hand for both birth and recovery.
- Metal bowl for the placenta
- While I am all about natural remedies, I do still keep ibuprofen on hand because pain management is important if it’s intense or severe. If it isn’t, then I use arnica, my favorite high-absorption magnesium, and other pain management tools.
- Digital thermometer for both mom and baby — I never hopped on the rectal thermometer bandwagon until my 5th was born and let me tell you… WHY?! It’s most accurate and pretty easy. (Plus you KNOW where it’s been so it always gets washed). I have a traditional thermometer too and an infrared that I use. Because infrared can be finicky, it’s just for quick checks while sleeping and if there’s anything “off” or worrisome, I can use the more traditional measures.
- Pillows and pillow protectors : I remember my third birth well and I think we had every pillow in the house in bed with me. I just didn’t have the strength to hold up certain parts of my body while in labor.
- At least 2 sets of sheets and linens – Please, if no one has told you to make your bed, add a sheet protector, and make it again then let me be the first to let you know how wonderful this is. You can quickly and easily strip the bed to the next layer to snuggle into after birth. And what a glorious feeling! My second home birth I had put some “feather flannel” sheets as the bottom set and it was such luxury after an existing birth.
- A Flashlight for yourself or midwife to see how you’re progress is helpful, and even better is a waterproof flashlight. I used one made for scuba divers.
- Baby Clothes are actually easy to overlook in the anticipation of giving birth at home.
- XL or mesh Underwear because you won’t shrink down immediately and you will be bleeding. Mesh means you can just throw them away after a few uses if you think that might be helpful.
After having 5 babies at home, what were extras or the most useful things in my home birth kit?
If I really could boil down to the basics, I would say that warm wash cloths, towels, a peri bottle, and a cord clamp are the bare minimum I found was necessary to have in my birth kit. However, the shower curtains are easier to clean up the just a sheet or extra towels.
And the extras that were more helpful than not were:
- Using a birth stool – the one I have linked here was designed by one of my midwives. If interested, please ask your midwife to add it to their professional supplies!
- adult diapers
- an herbal sitz bath was something i really enjoyed after my first home birth
- I added iodine to my peri bottle after my fifth and felt cleaner
- I also was much more intentional about making my baby registry work for me. In fact, I added things like nursing gowns, silicone straws, and other things that are nice-to-haves in my birth kit to my amazon registry. I do like to support local but using Amazon Baby Registries, I was able to make up to two orders that got an extra percentage off many of the things I needed for birth!
How to prepare for your homebirth labor and delivery
The most important thing you can do it prepare for birth with a positive attitude. The better outlook you have, the more likely better outcomes will happen. However, it’s important to also have all your ducks in a row in case things don’t go as planned.
I always type out names and phone numbers of friends that can help me or my other kids in case of a hospital transfer. I list the name, number, and address of the closest hospital as well as the preferred one if different. (When we lived in Boston, I also had which one I would prefer based on time of day because of rush hour traffic).
If you have given birth in the past, especially if they were quick, then you need to ready yourself and anyone who might be home with you for the possibility of doing it alone if you do have a midwife that may or may or may not make it in time to deliver the baby.
Does insurance cover home birth or supplies?
This is very insurance dependent and the shortest answer is no, not really.
However, if you have pretty good insurance, then you can ask your provider for an itemized list of services to submit to insurance. If you are already enrolled or are in the enrollment window for a Flex Spending Account, then you can also purchase your medical supplies like pads and such to compile your birth kit that way.
As I mention in my post about making a meaningful baby registry after multiple babies, you can make your registry work for you and offset some of your expenses. Amazon, for instance, will let you order twice from your registry with many items at around a 10-15% discount. Therefore, I create an Amazon Baby Registry to buy from for myself. I do an early buy to get their free baby box, and a second buy closer to or after the baby’s birth to fill in the gaps. Create your Amazon Registry Here. And if you have already had children, check out my guide on how to make a meaningful subsequent baby registry.
After hiring a midwife and buying a home birth kit, how much does a home birth cost?
It’s going to depend on location and experience among other factors. I had one birth cost $2,200 with a student midwife interning with a more experienced one. I had one that was $6,000 in the Boston area and a second with a discount for being a repeat client. And then my 4th home birth (fifth child) was around $4,000.
My birth kits each time ranged in prices but usually I spent under $100.
Our insurance, if giving birth in the hospital (even C-Sections) come out to $0 and yet I would spend the money for a home birth every time.
Need help preparing for your home birth? Check out these preparation guides:
More Home Birth Questions?
Please leave a comment on this post if there is absolutely anything I didn’t cover and that you might need or want to know.
I have made a poster for parents that is how to validate their feelings during big emotions. While it was made as a parenting tool, it’s also a great help and addition to your birth kit to help yourself and others validate your big emotions surrounding birth. Under the sample image, is a place to input your email to get sent a printable copy to hang in your birth space.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!