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  • Writer's pictureHannah Burba, CPM

What I Bring to a Birth

I am not responsible for how a birth unfolds. I am responsible for responding to situations when they present themselves, for communicating and for listening to what babies and clients are expressing.

Here are the things I am showing up with to births:


Gloves (sterile/non-sterile)

Pitocin, Cytotec

Herbs and Flower Essences, Homeopathic remedies

Neonatal Resuscitation equipment

Sterile tools to cut the umbilical cord/cord clamps

Needles/syringes to administer medications

Suturing supplies and (localized anesthetic) Lidocaine

IV Fluids and accompanying supplies

Enema supplies

Urinary Catheters

A Pulse Oximeter

Blood Pressure Cuff/Stethoscope

Sterile Gauze

phlebotomy supplies

A Rebozo


An electric Heating Pad

*By 37 weeks I have already left a birth tub, accompanying liner and hose, chux pads, and other birth and immediate postpartum supplies at a client’s home

At most low-risk home births, I hopefully am not using many of these tools.

Hopefully the labor process is well underway by the time I arrive, and I walk into a birth where the baby is moving through a maternal pelvis with relative ease and handling the squeezes of contractions well. Hopefully Mama is surrendering to the experience, resting, staying hydrated and present with her body as it is opening and pushing at its own unique pace.

But, I understand birth is filled with the unexpected and am prepared to navigate with these tools.

Here are the things I am most often using at births:

My hand-held doppler:

i use this to check in with baby intermittently. Every 30 minutes in active labor, and more frequently during the pushing stage. My doppler is waterproof and portable- I can listen while someone is laboring in the tub, in the shower, on the toilet, in her bed, on the stairs, on the couch…etc.

I’m listening closely to the heartbeat of the baby and monitoring how it changes throughout the course of a labor. I’m listening to how the heartbeat responds to contractions at each different stage of labor and comparing the beats per minute to the baby’s baseline prenatally and also at the beginning of my arrival to the birth.


We seem to go through a lot of these. Cleaning up, wiping down, birth can be a messy process.

Blood Pressure Cuff/Stethoscope:

This is a way to listen to how a maternal body is moving through a labor/postpartum experience. I am comparing my results to prenatal blood pressures, and noting if there are any significant changes. I’ll use my stethoscope to listen to baby’s lungs and heart when they are born.

My Watch:

Helps me to stay grounded in this time and place. I use it to track time, count heart beats of both mom and baby and make suggestions for what “to do” next.


At every birth I am checking in with how things are feeling. I am building on months of developing a relationship with this mom, this family, this baby and pulling from the hours of time we have sat together so that I don’t have to (hopefully) pull from a woman’s energy to gauge where we are in the birth process.

I am constantly tracking her noises, the labor pattern, what I am feeling with my hands (on her back, on her belly, her hip bones, and even in and around her cervix or baby’s head) and comparing these findings to all of the births I have attended before, the years of school and trainings and yet at the same time allowing the birth that is unfolding before me to be exactly what it is.

It may look like I am sitting quietly in the corner…

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