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Pregnancy can be a difficult time for all involved. Sometimes you can go through pregnancy and childbirth without any problems whatsoever, sometimes something major can happen needing intervention, and there is no way to predict up front how it’s going to go. There comes a point that all you can do is hope for the best, but before that point there are still things you can do to prepare and give a degree of peace of mind. Even women who have been pregnant before can face new situations in each pregnancy, so having something available to us is helpful.
I split these preparations into two categories: knowledge to know what you’re dealing with and supplies to make things easier. Both are important in their own way.
Hesperian makes available a couple publications that are good for situations where there may be no medical care, or very little, available. These are written for situations in third world countries, but that makes them extremely helpful in an emergency scenario because it’ll likely be similar difficulties we are facing. You can always buy hard copies from Hesperian (supporting them and allowing you to have all the information already printed) or just print out specific chapters from the pdfs they make available. Their “A Book for Midwives” is especially good to consider, but there are others that would be a good addition to your first aid kit in general. View all the options and either purchase or download specific chapters free on this page.
Alternatively, there are many highly skilled midwives who have written books on pregnancy and childbirth intended for those who are in a good position to have a home birth or go to a birthing center and want to have as few medical interventions as possible. These references can be very informational as well. Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth or Elizabeth Davis’ Heart and Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth would be good ones to start with (the former preparing the mother more mentally, the latter being more detailed for diagnosis and management of any potential issues).
Some of these supplies are equally good for require medical/first aid kits and will serve double duty. Some are more specialized. I’ve kept the list short but if you can always look at websites that discuss unassisted home birth for additional information and ideas for supplies. If you have difficulty finding some of these items but want to acquire them, businesses that specialize in home birth supplies like In His Hands and Baby, Birth and Beyond are places you can check. (I’ve purchased from In His Hands before and had no problems, though I’m not affiliated with either company.)
- Waterproof mattress cover (or plastic sheeting, plastic shower curtain, or tarp)
- Various bath and hand towels
- Package of large chux pads
- Sterile gloves
- Lube jelly
- Lanolin or other nipple cream
- Bulb syringe (optional, but if you are going to use one then use a new one — mold grows in used ones after awhile)
- Receiving blankets for baby
- Several large trash bags
- Hand mirror (to watch progress during labor if needed)
- Cord clamp (sterilized string will also work)
- Hibiclens and/or povidone iodine
- Peri bottle for postpartum
- Hydrogen Peroxide (for clean up)
- Perineal ice packs
- Long, super absorbent sanitary pads