Birth Supplies: Towels

I’m starting a new series of blog posts about the supplies that you gather for your home birth. In addition to purchasing a birth kit, you’ll pull some supplies together for the birth. Some of this you will already have, and some you may need to buy. But it is all important. Frequently, clients ask why they need such and such, or are TWELVE towels really necessary? Yes, you do and they are. There is a reason behind the madness, and I’m going to share it with you in this series. Starting with…

12 Towels and 8 Washcloths

I use the towels for mom, for baby, for our arms, for a soft stepping spot on the way out of the tub, and more. If you are planning a water birth you’ll need more towels for getting in and out of the tub and keeping warm. We dry baby immediately with towels, and then warm them to keep baby warm while skin-to-skin with mom. We use towels instead of receiving blankets because they are thicker and more absorbent. Washcloths are used as hand towels, warm compresses, cold compresses, baby washcloths, and to clean up whatever needs to be cleaned up.


  • You need to put aside 12 towels and 8 washcloths for the birth. Wash them, sanitize them if necessary, and then put them aside from the time of your home visit until after the birth. Do not try to use your circulating household towels. Your baby will inevitably come on laundry day if you do.
  • The older and softer the towels, the better. New towels are not as absorbent, but if you do decide to buy new towels wash them several times and then put them aside. You may prefer to buy some at the thrift store and then sanitize them with a splash of bleach and hot water. And don’t underestimate how many extra towels grandmas and aunties may have sitting around the house.
  • The bigger the better. Beach towels are great. Teeny towels that don’t fit around a pregnant belly are not as great.
  • We wash the towels with hydrogen peroxide after the birth, so they are usually just fine to use afterward. If you don’t need them back in the closets, I recommend getting a big rubbermaid bin and packing them (and the other supplies) away for the next baby. And if there’s not a next baby on the horizon, you can pass them on to another “lady in waiting.”

Do yourself a favor, and don’t try to scrimp on the towels. They are a staple and a necessity.