Birth Plans and Options

Where will your baby come into the world (and into your arms)? Will it be in your own bed at home? In a high-tech hospital birthing room? In a family-focused birthing center? How will you be doing that birthing? In water? While squatting? On your hands and knees? How about the environment around you? Do you want the lights to be dimmed? The noise level in the birthing room to be hushed? The background music to come from your favorite CD? These days, you’ve got plenty of childbirth locales to choose from, not to mention plenty of birthing options once you get there. Assuming the choice is yours to make (sometimes it’s dictated by your medical or pregnancy history, or by your insurance coverage), selecting the one that’s right for you and your baby can take a little homework — and a lot of thinking and discussing.

Explore Your Birthing Options. To settle on your selection, you’ll first need to explore the options that are open to you. Look into the hospitals and birthing centers in your area — see what they offer, what they don’t, and how they stack up according to friends or family who’ve delivered at them recently (and, if you’ve hired a doula, how does she rate them?). Check into which options your insurance plan covers (unless you’re planning to pay out of pocket, that’s really important information). Discuss with your practitioner what’s practical and what’s not in your case (for instance, high-risk pregnancies aren’t generally delivered at birthing centers or at home). Also discuss the various pros and cons of different labor positions and environments.

Talk with Your Partner. Still have more options than you know what to do with? That’s where the thinking and discussing come in.Talk to your partner about the birth experience you both envision (with luck, you’re on the same page here, or at least in the same book). Consider whether you’d feel safest going the traditional route — in a hospital, fully equipped with all the offerings of modern obstetrical technology (but one that still manages to accommodate your birth plan wishes, as most do these days). Or whether home’s where your heart is — and where you’d like your baby to be delivered, either in your cozy bed or your warm bathtub. Or if a birthing center where midwives run the show gives you the happy medium you’re searching for (with technology at the ready, but not in your face, where birthing tubs are more common than fetal monitors).

Prepared for Alternatives. And if the birthing scene of your dreams isn’t in the cards — either because it’s not affordable, logistically feasible (the birthing center you favor is a too-long 45-minute drive from your home — and that’s not even during rush hour!), or medically possible (your pregnancy is just too complicated to contemplate outside a hospital setting), don’t worry — you can be happy having your baby anywhere. The same goes for laboring positions. If you’ve planned to labor using a birthing ball or squat bar but fetal distress and the need for continuous monitoring dashes those hopes, don’t be discouraged. Remember, the best birthing plan is one that leads to a safe delivery, a healthy mom, and a healthy baby.

Just like a birthing plan, when it comes to saving your baby’s cord blood, the more you know the better. Cord blood, which contains stems cells that can treat a host of diseases, can be stored in a private or public bank. What should you take into account as you make your decision about where to store your baby’s cord blood? First, read what you can about cord blood banking. Also look into cord blood research in terms of your family’s medical history to see what diseases it can treat. You can also download our free info packet here.