Home birth

If you’re thinking of having your baby in your own home, you’ll want to get prepped in advance. Here’s a checklist of the essential equipment you’ll need…

One thing that might intimidate you about having a home birth is the idea that you will be in charge of what you need. Whereas at a hospital, someone else will get you sorted and supply all the necessary kit.

That’s not completely the case though. If you choose to have a home birth, your midwife will bring certain kit with them too. That way they can steer you on what you will need.

Here’s what you should have to hand…

Homebirth kit, from your midwife – what’s in it?

In some areas, a midwife will bring a homebirth kit round to your home near to the end of your pregnancy. It will include things like:

  • absorbent pads
  • medical equipment
  • pain relief.

Obviously, you might end up having a home birth without planning to if things happen super-fast. In that case, your midwife will bring the kit you need when she arrives.

If you want, your midwife can also bring:

Your own home birth checklist

As well as what the midwife brings, you should have to hand at your home birth:

  • Your maternity notes and birth plan.
  • Blankets to keep you and the baby warm after you give birth.
  • Newspapers or old/plastic sheets to protect the area you want to give birth in. The midwife will clean up any mess, including placenta and cord if you want though, don’t worry…
  • TENS machine, if you want one. Some trusts do provide them but not all of them, so ask your midwife about that.
  • Desk light or head torch, so your midwife can check your vagina and your baby after the birth (midwives might bring this themselves). This is especially relevant if you want the lights kept low.
  • Phone numbers of your midwifery team (pretty crucial…).
  • Towels, plus extra if planning to use a pool.
  • Bin bags for rubbish and laundry.
  • Bucket for if you’re sick during labour – don’t be alarmed, it’s a common thing for lots of women.
  • Clothes and a packed hospital bag just in case you need a transfer to hospital.
  • Any music, podcasts or hypnobirthing tracks you want to listen to.
  • Food and drink for you and birth partner, and tea for your midwife if you’re feeling kind…
  • Anything else you want for atmosphere, comfort and relaxation, like candles, hot water bottle or massage oil.
  • Birth ball.
  • Non-medical cord tie, if you want one.
  • Flannels and hair ties.
  • Plenty of maternity pads.
  • Everything you would pack for a hospital birth for if you need to transfer quickly. (NHS Choices, 2017; Which?, 2018)

This page was last reviewed in October 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

NCT home birth support groups: call 0300 330 0770 or email enquiries@nct.org.uk to find one near you.

The Home Birth Reference Site provides information and opinions about having your baby at home, for parents who think that it might be the right choice for them, and for health professionals looking for resources. 

Which? and Birth ChoiceUK have developed a tool to help you find out what your choices are for giving birth in your area. This tool combines your preferences with research evidence to show the local options most suited to you.


NHS Choices. (2017) Where to give birth: the options. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/where-can-i-give-birth… [last accessed 9 October 2018].

Which? Birth Choice. (2018) Home birth checklist. Available from: https://www.which.co.uk/birth-choice/having-a-home-birth/home-birth-che… [last accessed 9 October 2018].

Further reading

ARM. Home birth in the UK. Available from: https://www.midwifery.org.uk/articles/home-birth-in-the-uk/ [last accessed 5 October 2018].

Brocklehurst P, Hardy P, Hollowell J, Linsell L, Macfarlane A, McCourt C, Marlow N, Miller A, Newburn M, Petrou S, Puddicombe D, Redshaw M, Rowe R, Sandall J, Silverton L, Stewart M. (2011) Perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth for healthy women with low risk pregnancies: the Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study. BMJ. (343):d7400. Available from:  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7400 [last accessed 9 October 2018].

Bryan N. (2018) Freebirth data ‘should be collected across UK. Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-42706652 [last accessed 10 October 2018].

De Jonge A, Verhoeven C, Thornton J (2014) Perinatal mortality and morbidity up to 28 days after birth among 743 070 low‐risk planned home and hospital births: a cohort study based on three merged national perinatal databases. BJOG, 122(5):720-728. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.13084 [last accessed 9 October 2018].
Feeley C, Thomson G. (2016) Why do some women choose to freebirth in the UK? An interpretative phenomenological study, BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 16:59. Available from: DOI: 10.1186/s12884-016-0847-6 [last accessed 9 October 2018].

Horn A. Fathers and homebirth. Home birth reference site. Available from:  http://www.homebirth.org.uk/blokes.htm [last accessed 9 October 2018].

Li Y, Townend J, Rowe R, Knight M, Brocklehurst P, Hollowell J. (2014) The effect of maternal age and planned place of birth on intrapartum outcomes in healthy women with straightforward pregnancies: secondary analysis of the Birthplace national prospective cohort study. BMJ Open 4(1). Available from: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/4/1/e004026.long [last accessed 5 October 2018].

Li Y, Townend J, Rowe R, Brocklehurst P, Knight M, Linsell L, Macfarlane A,
McCourt C, Newburn M, Marlow N, Pasupathy D, Redshaw M, Sandall J, Silverton L,
Hollowell J. (2015) Perinatal and maternal outcomes in planned home and obstetric unit births in women at 'higher risk' of complications: secondary analysis of the Birthplace national prospective cohort study. BJOG. 122(5):741-753. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4409851/  [last accessed 26 February 2018].

NICE. (2014) CG190 Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/ [last accessed 5 October 2018].

Olsen O, Clausen JA. (2012) Planned hospital birth versus planned home birth. Cochrane Syst Rev. (9):CD000352. Available from: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000352.pub2… [last accessed 5 October 2018].

ONS. (2013) Births in England and Wales by Characteristics of Birth 2. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarr… [last accessed 9 October 2018].

ONS. (2016) Birth characteristics in England and Wales. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarr…, [last accessed 9 October 2018].

RCM. (2008) Position paper 25 Home birth. Available from:  https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/analysis/position-paper-… [last accessed 9 October 2018].

RCOG/RCM. (2007) Joint statement No. 2, Home births. Available from: https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/home_births_rcog_rcm0607.pdf [last accessed 9 October 2018].

Resuscitation Council (UK). (2015) Resuscitation and support of transition of babies at birth. Available from:  https://www.resus.org.uk/resuscitation-guidelines/resuscitation-and-sup… [last accessed 2 November 2018].

Peesay M. (2012) Cord around the neck syndrome. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 12(1). Available from: doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-12-S1-A6 [last accessed 9 October 2018].

Rowe R, Li Y, Knight M, Brocklehurst P, Hollowell J. (2016)  Maternal and perinatal outcomes in women planning vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) at home in England: secondary analysis of the Birthplace national prospective cohort study. BJOG 123(7):1123-1132. Available from: doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.13546. [last accessed 9 October 2018].
Rowe RE, Townend J, Brocklehurst P, Knight M, Macfarlane A, McCourt C, Newburn
M, Redshaw M, Sandall J, Silverton L, Hollowell J. (2013) Duration and urgency of transfer in births planned at home and in freestanding midwifery units in England: secondary analysis of the birthplace national prospective cohort study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 13(1):224.Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2393-13-224 [last accessed 9 October 2018].
Singh D, Newburn M. (2000) Access to maternity information and support: the needs and experiences of pregnant women and new mothers. London: NCT. [last accessed 9 October 2018].


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