Once you let your midwife know of your intention to have a home birth, she will arrange for a home birth assessment at your house, which normally takes place around 37 weeks. This is usually a box-ticking exercise in order to assess accessibility (drive/steps/etc) and parking, as well as other practical issues such as determining how easy the house is to find and whether you have a landline or good mobile phone reception. They are not there to inspect how clean your house is!
Other things that the midwife might discuss is where your birth pool will be located (if you’re planning on having one) and to suggest positioning it in a way where she may have access to it from more than 1 side (although this is not a requirement). She may also request a flat surface and a good light source in case resus is required. She may ask you to keep the house warm and to have plenty of towels available, regardless of whether you’re having a birthing pool or not, as well as plastic sheeting or old sheets to protect your carpets and furniture.
The midwife will probably also go over your birth plan and talk about anything she may have questions about. Other things she may discuss with you are what you intend to eat or drink during labour, administration of Vitamin K, and whether you will have any other birth partners present. She may also ask whether you consent to a student midwife being present at the birth.
If you are considered ‘high risk’, such as planning a VBAC, the Supervisor of Midwives may also attend. Her role may be to advise you of the perceived risks of your home birth or to assess your understanding of these risks. Her role is not to tell you whether you can or cannot have a home birth.
Depending on your location, the midwife may leave a ‘home birth box’ with materials she may need for the home birth, such as gloves, cord clamps, sutures, amniohook and biohazard bags. In some areas of the UK, canisters of gas & air may also be left at your house. Again, this will vary depending on where you live – in some areas, these materials will be brought with the midwife on the actual day. It’s important to remember that neither the home birth visit or the leaving of a home birth ‘kit’ is necessary to have a home birth and you can decide your preferred place of birth as late in pregnancy as you like.