Plastic sheeting will help to make the after-birth clean up a lot quicker and easier. Tarpaulin is the best option, but cheap waterproof shower curtains will do the job just as well. Cover any plastic sheeting with old towels for comfort and to help avoid slipping.
Towels are invaluable during birth. They will protect your furniture, dry and warm your new baby and can be rolled up to provide support wherever you may need it. If you are having a waterbirth, you will find them even more of an essential item as you hop in and out of the pool.
Hot water bottles and oat bags that can be microwaved or popped in the freezer are fabulous for easing those labour pains. Plastic bottles with a mister top can be bought cheaply and filled with water to make your own cooling spray. Some women also swear by homeopathic remedies, such as arnica, to help them through labour, birth and the recovery period.
Adding your own touches to your birthing room will help you feel relaxed and at ease. Essential oils, flower remedies and scented or unscented candles are all popular choices.
If you are going to spend several hours on all fours or kneeling beside your birth partner, you're definitely going to want something soft under your knees. Cushions, pillows or bean bags will help you stay comfortable.
Light foods are best for labour and birth, and they can also be nibbled by peckish midwives. Bendy straws are very useful for those times when you won't be in a position to hold a cup or bottle and isotonic sports drinks are great for keeping your energy levels up -- but try to avoid those containing aspartame.
Forget your best pyjamas and fluffy white dressing gown, the best clothing for after the birth will probably be an open fronted shirt. Having skin-to-skin contact with your new baby is brilliant for both of you, and the easiest way to keep warm is with a blanket.
You may not feel like smiling for the camera while you're in heavy labour, but after the birth you will want to take plenty of snaps of your adorable new arrival. Just make sure you've remembered to recharge or replace any batteries -- those first hours can never be repeated.
You may have decided not to use it to wash your baby's new clothes, but biological washing powder is great for cleaning stains out of sheets, towels and even carpets. Plastic bin liners are ideal for quickly getting rid of any mucky items that you don't want to keep, although many people are surprised at how little mess there is after a homebirth. Also, keep a bottle of disinfectant handy to wipe down hard surfaces.
The chances are your homebirth plans will go off without a hitch, but if a mid-labour hospital transfer becomes necessary, having a hospital bag packed and ready could help you avoid any extra stress. Your emergency bag should contain all the essential items you will need once your baby is born, such as clothing, nappies, toiletries, sanitary towels, breast pads, a comb and anything else you couldn't live without.
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