One beautiful and charming aspect of homebirth that I’m extremely excited for is the capacity I am afforded to prepare and to have my personal preferences accommodated.
After birthing 4 children, I’ve learned what is “normal,” what is “traumatic,” how my body handles each phase of labor, when I want a hand to hold, when I want to be left alone. Unfortunately, having had all my babies in a hospital environment, I wasn’t always allowed the freedom to change position, to move, to adapt to the different cues I was receiving from my body. My breathing techniques were criticized, a nurse told me I have giant feet (which while being true, is neither kind nor helpful), and made me feel immodest and shameful an hour postpartum after my body had just been wrecked by the equivalent of marathon-level stamina and exertion. I’ve had nurses ignore me and insist on a cervical check during a particularly rough contraction, I’ve watched both doctors and nurses be condescending toward my husband when he advocated for me. I’ve had doctors ignore my questions and concerns when I asked what they were doing either to/for my body, or my baby, I’ve had doctors fail to give explanation of procedures, I’ve had doctors insist on unnecessary interventions, I’ve had my requests for delayed cord clamping (following the delivery of the placenta) ignored and denied, I’ve had my allergies ignored when it came to dietary or medication needs. I’ve been shamed by nurses for allowing my new born to cry while I took a shower and went to the restroom because my baby awoke before I got finished. I’ve had nurses tell me I’m wrong when I advocated for my severely tongue-tied children- I could go on and on and on. Ultimately, every hospital experience held more negatives or annoyances than it did positives for me and baby.
So instead of being viewed as a “patient” (who, let’s face it, exhibits very little patience for insensitive medical staff during labor and delivery) or as a chart number that needs to hurry up and clear the L&D room for the next mama, I chose to be viewed as a woman, with a unique body, 4 births under my belt, and finally the courage and experience to advocate for myself and to know what I need during the most strenuous and vulnerable experience of my life.
Praise God for opening the doors to home birthing for me! And in order to be a good steward of this opportunity, I’m choosing to prepare for the worst, while expecting the best- you know, homestead style. So here are a few ways I’m preparing my home to be a safe haven birthing center.
Deluxe Birthing Suite
This is likely the cleanest my home has ever been/will ever be with this many children living in it. I’ve been vacuuming like a fiend, and making sure things stay tidy- you never know when labor will start and suddenly you’ll have extra folks on the birthing team running around, stepping on Legos and tripping over stuffed animals. So everyone has been doing their part to keep the floors tidied, and just generally make a cleaner, more organized environment, which has greatly decreased my stress level. Even with the starts of projects all over the house (we’re replacing doors, and floors still) it seems a lot more tidy just having purged all the excess clothing and junk. Add to that new sheets, diaper bin/nursing accessories all clean and prepped, and my “new” bathroom, everything is geared up toward a very peaceful and functional birthing experience.
Optimal Comfort for Mom and Baby
This time around, expecting a teeny tiny baby, I decided that rather than mourn the fact that my cloth diapers don’t fit a premie size babe, I just got some super teeny cloth diapers from Green Mountain Diapers. They are awesome! Things I love about them include:
- Color coded stitching to indicate size
- Size zero covers for 5-10lbs with umbilical snap so belly button is free and clear of irritation from the diaper
- Natural cotton and awesome absorbance- I’ve been stripping them this week and getting them all folded.
- They weren’t terribly expensive and will prevent me from having to buy disposable diapers and try to find correct brand and sizes amidst store shortages for at least the first 3 months.
- They’re teeny tiny and adorable. 😍
Additionally, I made sure to have postpartum compression and recovery garments to help with my posture (a slight degree of scoliosis is much accentuated when my hips and spine are shifting back into pre-pregnancy alignment) and some really cute and modest nursing tanks! I haven’t managed that combination before without sewing my own, so it was nice to find those online for the sake of my own convenience.
Fully Stocked Kitchen to Meet Nutritional Needs
Easy breakfasts like muffins and Ezekiel waffles are in the freezer, and other easy breakfasts like oats, grits, fruit, yogurt and granola, cereal, etc. are stocked. Also on the shelves are electrolytic beverage mixes, protein bars, nuts, fruit, and other “quick” foods for the times when I’m juggling nursing a newborn and caring for my other 4 children. This week I’ll be making some bone broth from some beef bones my husband put in the freezer. Something about the collagen, and minerals and vitamins in bone broth just soothes my very soul postpartum.
Plan A and Plan B (flexibility is key)
Obviously, my plan A is to have this baby at home. Which means I have to make it at least to 37 weeks (2 more days!!!) without going into labor. I had marveled at 35 weeks at not having had any strange preterm labor contractions with this pregnancy…and then they started. Which means I’ve been sitting on my bum, letting my husband shoulder most of the chores and housework so that my body cooperates with my plan A and labor holds off for a little bit longer. It’s been excruciating to sit still and just rest. But I’ve had to shift my mindset from thinking of it as doing nothing, to doing the hard work of growing a human being.
My plan B is contingent on how plan A unfolds, and the results of a growth scan later this week. Should unforseen circumstances mean a hospital birth/transfer is necessary, I’ve also planned and mentally prepared for that scenario as well. It’s not what I most want, but in the long run, my desire for healthy mom and baby trump my idealistic views of homebirth. The birth plan is printed and in our family management binder with all the appropriate phone numbers and contacts and medical information. A friend actually recommended a book to me called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way through the book or not before baby comes, but it is helping to prepare me mentally and spiritually for birth!
I’ve got a gallon batch of kombucha that should be ready to go in a few more days to help with probiotics postpartum. I’ve also got the ingredients for golden milk (with our own raw milk!! Yay) as well as SCD legal yogurt (extra high probiotic content).
Homestead Management and Planning
I created a homestead management binder earlier this spring and it has been an invaluable resource for our family. Not only does it help me to plan out what is going on with each facet of our homestead, but it allows me to do so in clearly laid out ways that my husband can “grab n’ go” and make sure we’re meeting all of our “deadlines” with the animals. We have monthly calendars, weekly schedule and priorities, garden management and planting dates/tasks, harvest record- we’ve already brought in 3lbs of berries from our June bearing plants!- project planners, breeding charts, egg production log, milking records, and so much more. It is so helpful to be able to reference that binder, and for my husband’s convenience, he can flip through and find all the information he needs to help me out and I can clearly communicate the things with which I need his help. You can purchase a copy for yourself at our farm store website here
We’re building a 2nd next box and some more rabbit tractors as we are expecting another litter, maybe 2, of bunnies in the next few days. Our first litter of silver fox bunnies are weaned and ready for purchase. Visit our farm website here for more information or to inquire about our bunnies. Our rabbitry is registered with ARBA, and our bunnies are pedigreed. It has been fun to learn more about breed standard and characteristics that make great rabbits. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have! (But be mindful that we may take a while to respond if we’re having our baby girl!)