One question so many people have about giving birth at home is, “What about the mess?” Most of the time, it is very little; and most (if not all) midwives consider it as one of their duties to clean up before they go.
Here is a link to a recent New York Times article which addresses this question, as well as giving birth in small New York apartments (where the neighbors may be able to hear everything that goes on in your apartment). Our condo was about 850 sq. ft. when I gave birth to our first son. I was a bit concerned about the noise, although I couldn’t really hear too much of the other building’s residents, except the neighbor who lived above us sometimes played his music too loud. As it turns out, I wasn’t a loud birther at all, so nobody even knew that we had had the baby until they saw him in my arms instead of in my belly.
My first birth was messier than my second, all told. I gave birth in a labor tub, so most if not all of that mess was drained out of the tub into the toilet or wherever (my husband or the midwife or her assistant did that at some point after the birth — I never saw the tub again after I got out of it to birth the placenta). I walked from the tub in the living room down the hall into my bedroom to birth the placenta. I think, but can’t remember for sure, that the midwife cut the cord after I was in bed. As I walked down the hall, I know I must have been bleeding because some blood dripped on the wood floor and then on the carpet. My husband just wiped up the spots in the hall, and poured a little hydrogen peroxide on our (white/beige) carpet, which took the blood right out! (I’d test in a hidden area if the carpet is dark and/or colored.) I continued to bleed (technical hemorrhage; the midwife gave me a shot of Pitocin which staunched the blood flow), partly normal bleeding, partly from the tear I sustained during the birth, which required several stitches. I know that at least one Chux pad was soaked, and others were bloodied; but that heavy bleeding stopped after the shot of Pit, and I just had normal postpartum bleeding after that. The midwives did a load of laundry (I think most of that was just wet towels from me getting into and out of the labor tub, although there were probably a few other things, like the first baby towels or blankets that may have had some birth fluids on them) and gathered up all the disposable stuff and tossed it into the condo’s garbage bin on the way out.
My second birth was much less bloody. It was in the bathroom (linoleum floors clean up great!), and somebody threw down a couple of towels, which caught all of the birth fluids; I sat on them for a while after that, but I didn’t bleed nearly as heavily as I did in my first birth. (Knowing I had had a postpartum hemorrhage the first time, during the last several weeks of my second pregnancy, I purposefully increased the amount of foods containing vitamin-K, which naturally helps blood clot.) Then I went to bed (I think this time I held a towel or Chux pad between my legs, so if any blood did drip, it wouldn’t fall on the floor). When the midwife and her apprentice got there, they looked at the amount of blood I lost and said it was definitely not a hemorrhage (my mom thought it looked like a lot of blood, and wouldn’t listen to me saying it was hardly anything). They put the towels in the washing machine, which was really all the cleanup.
A few years ago, one of the women in an email group I was on told about a conversation she had had about the “horrible mess” and “difficult cleanup” after a birth. This woman had had an unassisted birth, and she squatted over a pile of towels. After the birth, with the baby nursing in one arm, she picked up the pile of towels and tossed ’em into the washing machine. Cleanup over!