Labor & Delivery

How to Prepare for a Home Birth: An Expert Shares 

written by EMILY SHEPARD

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home birth"
home birth
Source: Canva
Source: Canva

Victoria Weber was born at home, and so was her mother and her grandmother. Delivering her own babies at home was always Victoria’s vision, but her oldest son had other plans. After laboring for 52 hours at home, she was taken to the hospital for an emergency C-section. This trauma inspired Victoria to dive deep into the birth world to better understand her experience, and she emerged as an expert for birthing mothers. She’s since supported thousands of women through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. “The option to choose your birthing experience is crucial for honoring individual preferences and autonomy,” said Victoria. “It allows women to tailor their birth to their unique needs, beliefs, and comfort levels.”

About 1 percent of births in the United States are home births, with the popularity of home births reaching its highest level in 30 years according to a 2022 report by the CDC (in part, due to COVID-19 concerns). Many women choose to have a home birth because they crave the comfort and familiarity of their own home, they feel more in control, they want more support and individualized care, and prefer less medical intervention. 

“Home birth offers a less medicalized environment, promoting a more intimate experience with reduced intervention,” said Victoria. “Delivering at home can also reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections. Home birth offers the option to birth in water or wherever they prefer. Higher-risk pregnancies or those who choose to have a medicated birth would need the equipment and model of care that a hospital offers. The availability of both hospital and home birth options empowers women to make informed decisions and ensures that their birthing experience aligns with their values and preferences.”

Preparing for a home birth is a topic Victoria is very knowledgeable and passionate about. Here, she’s sharing what to know about preparing for a home birth.

Meet the Expert

Victoria Weber

Victoria is a doula, certified holistic nutrition coach, and prenatal yoga instructor. She’s also cofounder and Head of Nutrition for Marma Health, a platform for nutrition during the birthing years.

How to prepare for a home birth

Here are Victoria’s strategies to help you get ready for a safe and satisfying home birth experience: 

Hire a midwife and a doula

Interview several midwives and doulas in your area to find the right birthing team for you. A midwife will primarily be responsible for delivering your baby and the medical side of things, while a doula is there to encourage you and advocate for your needs. Depending on your support system and finances, you might opt for hiring a midwife only, or you might prefer to have the nurturing presence of a doula as well. In addition to support during labor, a doula typically provides guidance during pregnancy and postpartum and is available to answer questions or address concerns.

Take a prenatal yoga class

A prenatal yoga class will cover many of the topics below, such as relaxation techniques and trusting your body. It’s also important to prepare your body for labor through gentle movement, stretches, and breathwork. A good prenatal class will help both your mind and body feel ready for labor, while also surrounding you with a community of new moms and a peaceful environment to recharge. 

Create a birth plan 

What are your birthing goals? What do you hope your experience will be like? It’s crucial to think about a birth plan and talk specifics with your midwife, doula, and partner. Discuss both your ideal plan and a backup plan. While you hope for a smooth home birth experience, it’s important to have a plan in place for any unexpected complications that may arise. Discuss your contingency plans with your birth team so that everyone is prepared and you can feel reassured knowing that you’re in capable hands. Keep a positive mindset and be flexible in your expectations. Understand that birth can be unpredictable, and things may not always go according to plan. Stay open-minded and adaptable, focusing on the end goal of bringing your baby into the world safely.

Mentally prepare

Mentally prepare for a home birth by empowering yourself with knowledge. A great way to do this is by taking a childbirth education class that specifically focuses on home birth. Understand the stages of labor, coping mechanisms, potential complications, and what to expect during the process. The more informed you are, the more confident you’ll feel. Visualization techniques can also be helpful to get ready for labor. Picture yourself in a calm and comfortable environment, surrounded by supportive individuals. Visualize the birth progressing smoothly and imagine yourself coping effectively with any challenges that may arise. You can also practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or hypnobirthing. These techniques can help you stay calm and focused during labor and manage any discomfort you may experience.

home birth
Source: @sopharush

Create a supportive environment 

Creating a supportive birthing team is crucial for a positive birthing experience. Each member of your team plays a unique role in providing practical, physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual support during labor and delivery. Surround yourself with a supportive birth team consisting of your partner, midwife, doula, and any other individuals who you trust, feel comfortable with, and who respect your birthing preferences. Communicate your desires and preferences clearly with each team member so that they can understand their role and work productively together. 

Trust your body 

Remember that your body is designed to give birth and trust in its ability to do so. Trust the process and trust yourself. Surround yourself with positive affirmations that reinforce your belief in your body’s capabilities. It’s normal to have fears and anxieties about childbirth, especially if it’s your first time. Take the time to address these fears by talking to your midwife, doula, or a mental health professional if necessary. Having open and honest conversations about your concerns can help alleviate anxiety and build confidence.

Prepare your space 

Set up your birthing space in a way that feels like a quiet sanctuary. This could include dimming the lights, playing soothing music, and lighting candles. Many women also set up a birthing pool because water can promote relaxation and help progress labor. (The option to labor in water is one of many perks of birthing at home.) Include comforting items in your sanctuary, like pillows and blankets, and items that bring joy or draw strength, like photographs, artwork, and written mantras. 

Create a postpartum plan

A postpartum plan is essential to preparing for life with a newborn baby. A postpartum plan should include a meal plan, such as a meal train that is set up with your family and friends and freezer meals made in advance. Writing out everyone’s schedule, sharing it on a Google calendar, and taping it to the fridge will also help your support people. Include in your plan important contacts, your favorite foods and restaurants, and any other needs your family might have. Every postpartum plan will be unique to each family and include things you might not realize you need. Remember that your loved ones want to help, and delegating specific jobs will reduce stress and give you more time to heal and bond with your newborn.

“The birth of a baby is also the birth of a mother. Every single time you bring a child into the world, you are forever changed. Home birth isn’t for everyone, but the power to choose is so important for the physical and emotional health of the entire family and the community that surrounds them,” Victoria said. 

home birth
Source: Canva

Where to learn more about home birth

Victoria’s reading and listening recommendations for moms who would like more information about home birth: 

Books about home birth 

home birth
Ina May Gaskin
Guide to Childbirth
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Penny Simkin
The Birth Partner
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home birth
Ina May Gaskin
Spiritual Midwifery
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home birth
Erica Chidi
Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood―and Trusting Yourself and Your Body
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Podcasts about home birth

Birth Story Podcast

The VBAC Link

All About Pregnancy and Birth with Dr. Nicole Rankins—“Deciding if Home Birth is Right for You and Your Baby

On Health with Dr. Aviva Romm—“Home Birth A Family Affair

Liz Talks—“Home Birth Midwife Lindsey Meehleis

The Art of Being Well with Dr. Will Cole—“Home Births vs. Hospital, Midwife + Doula Benefits, Skincare Secrets & What You Need To Know About The ‘Fourth’ Trimester

Wellness Mama Podcast—“Michelle Aristizabal on Natural Birth and Choosing Your Birthing Experience

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