Preparing a homebirth bag is an important step for expectant parents who plan to have a home birth. It’s important to have all the necessary items ready well in advance of your due date.
For home birth midwives, all the resources you pack in your bags and car are what you get. You can’t go down a hallway to supply pixies and get something you are “out of in the labor room.” Your supplies are purchased, organized, and brought to a birth, are they? Deciding what to bring can be daunting. It isn’t even about the birth bags.
I have a suitcase in my trunk at all times with spare clothes (birth can be messy, especially a water birth), snacks, water bottles, a blanket, a pillow, and a work outfit if I have to go right to the office visit after the birth.
As time goes on, the birth bags get lighter and smaller with time (you learn what is really needed for a birth in the home setting). We joked in my practice that my main birth bag was called “Goliath.” People’s backs would be sore if we had a couple of births in a row hauling that thing around. I felt more comfortable having almost everything I could think of with me at birth “just in case.”
A home birth midwife needs to be more prepared for emergencies and potential variations of normal. What you bring with you is what you have to work with. I brought emergency supplies like oxygen tanks, resuscitation equipment, bleeding medications, IV start and fluids, newborn medications, paperwork for charting, footprints, and birth certificates, educational material to go over with family postpartum, newborn assessment supplies, labor support equipment like squeeze balls, fans, and birth stools, assessment equipment like doppler and stethoscope, and so much more (see consultation services for the entire list of home birth bag supply checklists for each birth bag).
Labor and Delivery
I knew I wanted everything that was in the Labor and Delivery Unit cupboard of a birth room. I wanted enough lidocaine so I didn’t have to transfer for a repair. Making sure I had enough sutures to do a labial repair or significant repair was essential. You will never know when 4-0 vicryl or 2-0 chromic would be more appropriate for this patient’s repair until you are already at the birth.
I wanted skills and equipment for an advanced newborn airway if needed. When my birth supplies were stocked and reviewed, it was with the mindset of safety as a top priority. I loved when medications or supplies expired in my bags; it meant I didn’t need to use them, and safe, normal birth was occurring within our practice.
I had bags that EMTs used, and they were labeled in every section to clearly designate what was contained in it and how many. I would always carry a certain amount of each item and make sure after each birth restocking at the office or my home was done before going to sleep (never know when women will call and need you NOW for a baby coming. I learned that one hard way!).
See my YouTube channel and watch the video about home birth supply bags, where we go into detail about what is in each bag and why I carry it. We go over how to set up for birth and protect your equipment from the cold climate and banging around in a lugged-around bag. Being prepared in a limited-resource setting like a home is vital. Make sure you have what you need, not close to expiring, and equipment is working properly (always carry a couple extra doppler batteries for “just in case”).
Women depend on you to prepare to care for safety issues that may arise during their labor experience. Make a list of all items you will need during labor, birth, and the postpartum period (email me if interested in my practice’s birth bag supply lists). Labor is a normal event, and usually, things just go right back in my bag after birth, never opening up, but I am grateful to have those supplies available.
We’ve developed our course, How to Run a Successful Home birth practice, to give you a comprehensive rundown for your practice.