One of the most common questions for those considering birthing at home is: "What about the mess?"
Birth is beautiful, but it also can be messy. There will usually be an abundance of blood, sweat, and various body fluids. But as my wise preceptor likes to say, "If there is a mess (on your furniture or floor), then the birth attendants weren't doing their job very well."
In the practice I work with, we like to bring two Certified Professional Midwives and one Student Midwife to every home birth. The primary reason for having three Birth Attendants present is because after delivery there are two people to monitor closely (the mother and the baby), and if both of them need assistance transitioning then we have a Midwife for each of them and a Student to chart, get supplies, etc. But another huge benefit for having 3 Birth Attendants is extra hands, and here are a few ways that we help control the mess that often comes with birth:
1. The Birth Pool: The majority of home birthers give birth in the water, so the birth pool naturally helps contain a lot of the mess associated with birth. After delivery, the Birth Attendants will drain the contents of the pool using a sump pump with a garden hose placed in the toilet. Once the pump is plugged in, it simply pumps the water down the toilet. When all of the water has been drained, we throw away the disposable birth pool liner, and disinfect the birth pool.
2. Incontinence or "Chux" Pads: Chux are a Midwife's best friend at births! We use them for everything- to protect the carpet, to line the bed, to soak up any fluids that might be on the floor, to lay the baby on during the newborn exam, etc. After the baby is born, we help the mother and baby get out of the birth pool and move them to the bed that they'll transition in, and a chux pad between the mother's legs during those few steps makes the mess manageable.
3. Shower Curtain Liner: During labor the midwives will get the mother's bed ready for her to labor in and/or transition after the birth. First we put a fitted sheet that the family loves on the mattress, then we put down a shower curtain liner before covering it with a fitted sheet that they family wouldn't mind getting messy. We also put chux pads down on top of that sheet. Then after delivery, the new family can rest, bond, and recovery during the golden hour without worrying about ruining their mattress. When the mother is ready, one of the attendants will help her get up to use the restroom and shower if she'd like to, while another attendant will throw away the chux pads from the bed, take the top sheet to the laundry, throw away the shower curtain liner, and then put down fresh chux pads for the mother to lay back down on.
4. Depends: Yes, I'm talking about adult diapers. I'm sure you've seen the viral photos of new mamas rocking postpartum diapers or mesh panties, and even though sometimes those come with a funny caption there is no better way to avoid leaking blood on clothes, sheets, furniture after delivery. Postpartum bleeding is the heaviest during the first week after delivery, and Depends really help to keep leaks at bay.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide: In the event that a blood gets on the carpet or bed, a bit of hydrogen peroxide works like a charm. We pour a little peroxide on to the spot, and simply blot it with a towel. Easy peasy!
5. Table Salt: Sounds strange, right? But oddly enough, adding a 1/4-1/2 cup of table salt to the laundry used during labor and delivery (towels, receiving blankets, sheets, mom's clothes, etc) takes any blood right out.
So now you know a few tricks of the trade that we use to minimize the mess that often occurs during the labor, delivery, and immediate postpartum process. Don't worry... Midwives like to leave the birth space cleaner than we found it.
If you have any other questions about home birth, please don't hesitate to ask.