Last August I was blessed to give birth to our second son in the comfort of our own home. I had been a dreaming of a home birth for years, even before the birth of our first son. It was an amazing experience that I would do over and over again. One huge benefit (among many) was that we had a little bit more control over the amount of disposables and trash that was created.
I’ve had quite a few requests to list out what we used during a home birth to avoid disposables as much as possible.
This is not intended in any way to replace the advice of a heath care provider. My aim is to simply share ideas, so feel free to share something that you think might be useful too.
Zero Waste Birth Kit
This list includes the things that my midwife asked that we have on hand for the birth. We kept them in two baskets in the living room next to where the birth pool was set up.
*This birth kit is separate from the medical birth kit provided by my midwife. Though it was a small kit, it was necessary for those items to be single use and sterile wrapped.*
- 2 sets of bed sheets – Luckily I had been holding on to old sheets to make into bulk bags so we used those. You can find old sheets from thrift stores, friends or family members. Maybe even a Facebook group too. You may be able to find a local group of home birth women who are willing to share supplies.
- Tarp to cover mattress – I bought two waterproof mattress protectors. Not package or plastic free but they have come in handy so many times especially since we co-sleep. I do recommend having two. Firstly, so that you can make a bed sandwich when it’s time to birth (mattress cover+sheets+cover+sheets) but also to protect your bed in the long run.
- Birth pool – We chose to rent our birth pool. It seemed much less wasteful then buying something new for only a few (possibly one) use. This meant that a disposable liner needed to be used, but I think it’s much less trash than the packaging for a new pool for every birth.
- Plastic shower curtain, plastic table cloth, or canvas drop cloth- This goes under the birth pool. We chose to buy a thick shower curtain that could be washed and reused. Mostly because we had just moved into a home where we needed another shower curtain and this seemed like a good reusable option. I considered the canvas drop cloth (and it would have worked just fine) but I could only find it packaged in plastic so decided against it. You could also ask around for a plastic table cloth so that you don’t need to buy a new one. I recommend whichever seems like the the option that will get the most use afterward.
- Towels and wash clothes- Either white towels if you plan to bleach them or dark colored towels to hide stains. Keeping an eye out for anyone getting rid of old towels, thrift stores, or asking friends and family for their old towels. If you prefer, use your old towels and invest in some nice quality new towels after the birth.
- Ice – If you have an ice machine, have it stocked and ready. We do not have one unfortunately and do not have much freezer room to try and make up ice in advance. This is where we bought a bag of ice. I would suggest having ice no matter what, I desperately needed ice-cold drinking water and cold compresses on my forehead during labor.
- Depends or disposable underwear – I opted for extra large underwear and newborn sized pre-fold diapers for postpartum bleeding. Then switched to my regular cloth pads after a week or so.
- Frozen Pads – Read my post here for a Postpartum Healing Herbal Tea Recipe. This can be used to make a spray, a bath or even frozen pads. I used my regular cloth pads.
- Trash bags – Because we don’t regularly buy trash bags, I asked my mom for two trash bags so that I didn’t need to buy an entire box. In fact, the midwives used a box for trash because they couldn’t even find the trash bags.
- Cuck’s Pads – These are the absorbent pads that make for an easy clean-up. Most midwives have a disposable version, but you can have a few reusables if you like. Or, even just have extra thick towels.
- Candles – I chose LED candles because I was afraid of forgetting to blow them out.
- Cloth Diapers – I like using prefolds, a snappy, and a cover for newborns.
- Heating pad – I made up a few rice socks ahead of time and they came in handy for both heat and cold.
- Snacks – I made up a few snacks to have on hand like homemade Lara bars, frozen watermelon, and fruit leather. To be honest I did’t eat during labor but it was nice to have snacks ready when it was over.
- A stocked freezer – With baby number 2, I didn’t do a thing to set up a nersury or baby’s room. I cared more about what we were all going to eat. I did a bit of freezer meal prep beforehand that really paid off. Soups in jars, meals in a glass casserole dish or two, even re-purposed a few disposable baking dishes that came along my way.
- Bidet – I do recommend a bidet for postpartum care if you can swing it. A peri bottle is good for a lot of reasons but a bidet can really be helpful.
- Small bottle of unopened olive oil – I bought a large glass bottle because I knew my midwife was planning to fill a small squeeze bottle with that and essential oils. Afterwards I would use the large bottle of olive oil for body care purposes.
- Reusable straws – Many people recommend bendy straws for labor, but a disposable bendy straw isn’t necessary. Just make sure to have a few reusable ones close by.
- Laboring clothes – Wear that old T-shirt that is ugly but comfortable. It won’t be on for long before you strip down to nothing. So don’t spend a ton of time worrying over what you will labor in. The honest truth is that you will all likelihood give birth naked.
- Paper towels – This wasn’t on our list but I’ve heard it is a common request. I would still use lots and lots of rags in this case. If you prefer to look for recycled paper towels you could do that. In my experience, birth was far less messy then I expected.
- Laborade – Made a large batch of this a day or two before and drank it leading up the labor. Look for coconut water in a can vs in a tetrapak if possible.
- Bleach – This was used to clean the birth pool after the birth. I’m not a huge fan of using harsh chemicals like bleach regularly, but in this case it had it’s place. We bought the smallest bottle possible for our needs so I wouldn’t have much left over.
- Peroxide – This is for getting stains out of fabric.
I was surprised to find out that I only needed a few of the items that I had prepared, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Are you planning a home birth? If so, what items have been recommended that you keep on hand?
Looking for more Zero Waste pregnancy resources? Check out my other blog posts:
Zero Waste Pregnancy
Postpartum Healing Bath
Prenatal Tincture Recipe
Belly Butter Recipe
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