By Amy, Contributing Writer
How Messy IS a Home Birth?
Home Births are often perceived as messy and this can put a lot of people off having one. So just how messy is a home birth in reality? Giving birth can be a little messy wherever you choose to birth your baby. However having had two homebirths, I can tell you home births actually produce very little mess and our cream carpets have survived both times.
In general, most women birth in a specific area, such as a birthing pool or bed and so the mess is easily contained. With a little forward thinking and planning, you can reduce the mess and stress of cleaning up and providing there is adequate protective covering, everything can be quickly put away in a trash bag and you would have never known a baby had been born at home.
Here Are My Top Tips For a Low Mess Home Birth
Towels were my top go to item for both my births. I suggest asking friends and family for all their old towels as you really can’t have too many. They are perfect for covering floors and furniture and for keeping you warm and dry if you decide to use a birthing pool or have a bath or shower. It is surprising how many times you decide to get in and out of water and you’ll be grateful for all the extras towels when you do as there’s often not time to dry them in between uses. Towels can also be folded and doubled up as pillows or kneeling pads.
Ground sheets, a waterproof shower curtain or a waterproof tablecloth are cheap and handy to have. If you’re planning to have a birthing pool cover the floor underneath and around it. This will catch water spills when you’re getting in and out of the pool. I also recommend putting one on the bed or sofa and place an old sheet on top to make it more inviting.
Water Pump and Hose
If you’re considering having a pool you need to consider how you will fill it and how and where you’ll be emptying it. We brought a tap connector to connect to our shower and then ran a hose straight into the pool. This ensured that we were able to top the water up with hot water without having to boil kettles or fill buckets. This helped greatly to cut down on mess. Most pools come with a submersible water pump and this will pump the water out of the pool through your hose. Make sure your hose is long enough to reach where you’re pumping the water. A toilet or drain is perfect or you might even want to use the water on your flowerbeds as a natural fertilizer.
A pack of underpads that can be used immediately after giving birth are helpful to minimise the mess of the initial blood loss. These are also handy to use on your bed for the first few nights after giving birth to protect bedding from any postpartum bleeding.
Always make sure you have a bowl handy in case of vomiting. A bowl or container is also needed to store the placenta in and can be lined with a bag if you wish. Having this pre-planned will save your birthing partner panicking when you ask for something. In my husband’s case, he handed my midwife my favorite ceramic salad bowl when she asked for a bowl for the placenta!
Keep trash bags handy at all times. We had two different colors, one for washing and one to throw away. When my husband was clearing up he was able to simple take the trash bag filled with the laundry in and empty it straight into the washing machine. Within a few short hours post birth everything was washed dried and packed away with very minimal effort.
Prep Your Birthing Partner
The job of setting up your birthing area and clearing away is most likely to fall on your birthing partner. According to my husband’s pedometer, he walked 4 miles in the short three hours it took to birth our second baby and clear up and he never left the house once! Decide your ideal birthing set up long before your due date and plan to minimise the mess around that.
For us, we had the birthing pool set up in our lounge on top of a ground sheet. We made sure a sofa was within easy reach and was also covered. We then ensured the floor from the pool to the sofa and the pool to the bathroom was also covered so I could freely move around during and after the birth without worrying about getting the floor wet or dirty.
If you’re planning on using your bed, make sure you have spare bedding ready and that your birthing partner knows where it is for afterwards. I have also heard of people putting clean sheets on their bed, plastic covering over that and then old sheets on top so that the top two layers can be peeled off afterwards without the need to make the bed.
If All Else Fails…
If your preventive measures fail and you still end up with blood on anything, keep the stain wet with cold water until you can treat it properly. Hydrogen peroxide brought from your pharmacy is great at removing blood stains from carpets (always pre test for color-fastness).
Overall birth practitioners are very good at leaving the house as it was found and home births are not nearly as messy as people imagine. My husband and I use lots of words to describe our two births with magical and amazing being the top two and I can say that neither of us have ever described it as messy.