Natural Labor & Birth Kit

Make a natural labor and birth kit for hospital or home

I’ve gotten several emails lately about resources and advice for natural labor and birth. Since I’ve been through that rodeo a few times now, I thought I’d share some of the best resources I’ve found and what goes with me during labor/delivery.

Some books that I read that were influential in my decision to go natural were:

Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth (Import)

I also highly recommend the documentary The Business of Being Born which breaks down modern maternity care in America and has some touching birth stories.

After delivering naturally, I wouldn’t want to give birth any other way, but it does take a little more preparation. Except for those women with 2 hour labors (and oh, how I envy you!) labor can often be a test of endurance. In my experience, the ability to relax and “let go” often has the biggest influence on an easy labor, and there are certainly things one can prepare ahead to help with relaxation.

This is my basic hospital list, and for a home birth, a midwife will often give you a list of additional items.

During Labor

  • Red Raspberry Leaf Herbal Tea
  • Homemade Gatorade or Labor Ade (here’s a great recipe)
  • Heating pad (I use a rice heating pad that can be heated in the microwave)
  • Birth Ball (large exercise ball… great for sitting on to help ease contractions)
  • Chamomile Tincture to help relax
  • Digestion Tincture for nausea in transition
  • Homemade Massage Oil (Coconut or almond oil with essential oils)
  • Lip Chap
  • Tennis balls tied up in a long sock for counter pressure on my back
  • Homemade healthy snacks and drinks since they won’t serve food to laboring women in hospitals
  • Peppermints and peppermint essential oil (for labor, I don’t use while nursing as this can reduce milk supply)
  • Ice packs
  • iPod with my “labor soundtrack” containing everything from the Rocky theme song to Gregorian chant
  • Copy of Birth Plan (You can download mine here to use as a sample)
  • Camera/videocamera
  • A robe and warm socks (I despise hospital gowns, even in labor)

Realistically, most of these things don’t get used, but I’d much rather have them ready and not need them. I do try to drink some of the Laborade and eat something nutritious before heading to the hospital (which I do during transition to minimize the possibility of interventions). Most of these items don’t go with me to the hospital either, since I’m usually in transition before I leave.

What to Bring to The Hospital

My Doula Bag/Home birth Kit

When I’m doula-ing or preparing for a home birth, I have some additional supplies on hand, along with the kit for the midwife/birth tub, etc…

What is your ideal way to give birth? If you’ve delivered naturally before, what is your best advice for others? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. carolie patton says

    I have been missing you.  thought maybe you had already delivered, so I was glad to hear from you today.  you’re in my prayers.

  2. says

    What a great and practical list.  I especially love the “warm socks” — YES!  Wish I’d thought to make an I-Pod mix for the labor, great idea with the chants and Rocky theme song.  Love this.  And oh how I also envy those lucky few with 2 hour labors.  Best wishes to you, looking forward to baby details soon! :)

  3. NoGrainNoPain says

    Can you share your labor soundtrack? Gotta have good tunes to get through my housework, I can only imagine how much I’ll need them during delivery :)

  4. amy kidd says

    howdo you make your cayenne pepper capsules? I have to have C-sections and this is my fourth. I’m looking for anything to make recovery easy and reduce my chance of blood loss. thanks for all your information. i’ve already spent hours on your website:)

  5. Elizabeth French says

    I love this list! Thanks for posting. I’ve been putting together a kit and this helps cover the things I may have forgotten…My due date is approaching fast!!

  6. Catie says

    I’m having a birth center birth, due beginning of October, and your list has definitely helped me with making my list on what to put in my birth kit. I hadn’t thought of arnica tablets-those are definitely on my list now as well as peppermints and homemade Gatorade.

    I was curious to know how you used the magnesium after birth? I’m making the magnesium body butter to use until birth (and after, since I’m sure that I’m deficient) but I would like to know the best application for relief after giving birth. Will using the body butter be enough to give me relief?

  7. Tracy Gatten says

    Hello! Curious about your use of Cayenne in your Doula bag. I came across this online & wonder if this is how you utilize this amazing herb – “When expectant mothers go into labor, midwives commonly give them a drink made of Cayenne, apple cider vinegar, honey, and warm water. This stimulates good contractions, gives energy—and as an added benefit, circumvents any possible hemorrhage and acts as an anti-shock remedy, as labor often brings about shock.”

  8. shannon says

    I have referenced this list so many times! Thank you! Have you had any experience with the chamomile slowing down labor as it relaxes muscles, etc?

  9. Echo says

    I was wondering is there anyway to make a homemade postpartum ice pack? I have never had the pleasure of birthing a child, but a good friend of mine is due any day, and I want to provide her with anything I can to help speed healing. Thank you!

    • Ellen says

      You can make a homemade version of the gel ice packs by using water and alcohol – the alcohol content will stop it from freezing solid :)

    • Erin says

      You can make padsicles- open pads of your choice, spread with a little 100% pure aloe vera gel and spritz with a mix of witch hazel, distilled water and EOs (I used lavender, rosemary and frankincense). Then fold the pads back up, put in a ziplock bag and freeze. Let them thaw a few minutes before using. The leftover spritz can also be used as a peri-spray to promote healing after birth.

  10. Jennifer says

    I love your inclusion of natural products and herbs. I’ve had three home births and am due this June with my fourth child. All of them were born in the bath, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. The After Ease didn’t help me with after pains last time, though. I wish it had. I never take any pain killers, but in that case, Motrin covered up the pains. What I would suggest to any woman is to give yourself plenty of recovery healing time. It is so important to rest and bond with the new baby. I have a hard time letting others take over my responsibilities and caring for the children while I heal. Anyways, just thought I’d share. I can’t speak for all women, but in my experience, I think we are strong than we give ourselves credit for and choosing a natural birth is brave, daring, and yet so right! Breathe, go with the flow, relax, and let your body guide you. It knows what to do. Trust it.

  11. Sarah says

    Just came across this list and pinned it! I’m expecting my second sometime late July/early August and I’ll be using your list (and website!) to help me prepare.

  12. Emily says

    Thanks for this great list! What do you think is the best way to use peppermint and lavendar EOs during labor? I read diluting lavendar with water for a spray or mixing with coconut oil for massage is good. For peppermint, I read a drop on the toungue can help with naseau. Just wondering if you have any other suggestions, and if either of these oils can/should be applied directly to the skin.

    Thank you,

  13. Karen Womack says

    I had my baby almost 25 years ago and had a 40 minute labor. Needless to say I didn’t have a chance to use much in my bag. We barely made it to the hospital. My beautiful baby girl decided she was ready to enter the world 8 days early!

  14. Pat says

    I say the number one key for a natural birth is a positive mindset!! If you believe you can do it then you will!! For me, as a Christian, I found some good positive music on my phone and that really helped! I had a doula there as well. It was just the last 8-10 cm that was the hardest but thankfully that only lasted like 5 min. In total my labor took 5 hours and totally worth it! Positive mind set!!!!

  15. Hazel Goodall says

    Im struggling to find a similar product to After Ease in the UK. Is there a homemade recipe for this or can you recommend another similar herbal remedy to buy off theshelff? Really appreciate your time.Many thanks.

  16. Victoria Lavergne says

    Hello great information – i am expecting twins in the coming weeks I was wondering if you could recommend any alternatives to Taking Afterease – as this product is unavailable in the UK! Thanks

  17. Ana says

    I am about to go on labor with our 4th baby and something that I always take with me to the hospital is a few cups of oatmeal to make at the hospital, a little tip I got from my grandma to improve milk production.
    Drink it as hot as you can take it (not scalding) and you will be making more milk that you and your littleone wwon’t know whatto do with it! Just about 2 cups after birth and about one every other day does the trick I breastfeed my kids for 12-15 months eanever had a problem with my supply.

  18. Sarah says

    I’m a first timer – both for pregnancy and with essential oils. I’m definitely interested in using some during labor and delivery. Any recommendations on the best combinations to have on hand? I’m looking for one to relax, help with pain and then also aid in recovery. Thanks!

    • Erin says

      I’m due any time now with #6 and my EO labor kit has clary sage (helps with contractions and keeps labor moving), lavender (relaxation/pain relief), peppermint (nausea/energy), frankincense (healing), and wild orange (mood booster/calming). You can also use neroli, jasmine, myrrh, if you want/have them.

  19. Layla says

    I am pregnant with our third. I had the other two naturally in a hospital. This time we are planning a home birth. My husband is very nervous to say the least. We live very close to a hospital so I am not too worried. Any advice on how to bring him around? I had absolutely no trouble delivering either of the other two. Also, the key to a successful natural birth is definitely a positive mindset and believing you can do it. Without that, you will succumb to the frequently offered medicines.

    • says

      I’d really try to find out from him where his worry is coming from? Is he concerned for your health and that of the baby? Make a backup plan together. Worried about his role possibly growing? Discuss his part in the birth with your midwife or doula. Just a natural worrier (like mine)? Help him understand that while you know that his fear comes out of his love for you, but that you need him to be on board for you. Knowing where the stress is coming from can help you to answer his fears and help him be your confident anchor again.

  20. Carrie says

    Thanks for the helpful list! I am about ready to go in for my second birth. First time at a birth center as my first baby was born at home. With a few complications we thought it best to go to the midwife rather than have her drive out to the middle of nowhere in the event of a need for a transfer to hospital.

  21. Kirstin says

    Hi Katie!
    love your blog and was going over your labor birth kit; I’m preparing to give birth some time in this next month; so exciting! I came across your birth plan to follow for hospital or other health providers and I saw that you opt to decline the vit k shot…just curious as to why and would love to hear your thoughts!
    Thank you kindly

  22. Caitlin says

    Hi Wellness Mama! I read your birth plan and it is wonderful and very similar to my desires for labor and the birth. I was wondering if I could borrow some of the sentences from your birth plan to help build mine?
    Thank you!

  23. Galina says

    I would love to hear more about your doula experience! Why you decided to do it, how hard is it to be on call while also being a mum to young kids, how hard the training is etc. Thanks!

  24. Cheryl says

    Thank you for this list! I’m expecting my 7th baby next month, and although I have given birth unmedicated 5 other times (and gave birth at home on purpose with my 6th), I’ve been feeling some nervousness about this one (mostly due to the fact that I’m going back to the hospital after a wonderful home birth –long story as to why, but it wasn’t our first choice!). I’ve been stocking up on my EO’s and making lists of everything I will need for a calm and successful birth again. Since I don’t have a prepared and supportive midwife like I would with a him birth, I’m finding I have to be completely in charge and boldly prepare for this, myself. Which not a bad thing, I’m learning! Also, luckily, my OB seems very cooperative with my birth plan already and I’m hoping things work out the way I’m planning.

    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your list that is doable and helped me remember a lot of things I had already forgotten! :)

  25. Samantha says

    I am curious to know what kind of food you pack for the hospital to avoid hospital food. I agree, hospital food is awful! Do you bring a big cooler full of stuff?

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