Birth Planning 101

When you are expecting a baby, there is a lot to do!  From staying healthy during your pregnancy to preparing to take your newborn home.  Of course, there is also the delivery itself, which is where your birth plan comes in.  A birth plan is the best way to plan and organize your labor and delivery.  It will help you be fully prepared for the decisions you will need to make during this exciting time.  Your birth plan is a checklist of preferences for personal comfort, medical procedures, and bonding with your baby. It guides the conversation with your OB-GYN, midwife, doula and hospital so they understand your ideal birth experience.

Keep in mind that a birth plan is just that – a plan.  Since you cannot predict everything with certainty once labor begins, you or your doctors may need to make changes to the plan along the way. For example, the COVID19 pandemic has changed the delivery game plan for many expectant mothers when it comes to people that can be present for labor and delivery.  This added stress makes it even more important to discuss some important medical decisions with your partner and physician prior to giving birth.

Packing Your Hospital Go-Bag

Your birth plan is a great first step in deciding what to pack in your hospital go-bag.  It’s a good idea to think about the things you would like to bring with you to relax and enjoy the experience and start setting them aside.  This way, when the moment arrives you won’t be scrambling for all the things you would like to have with you during labor and delivery.  Since the hospital or birthing center may not have everything you need, it’s good to start thinking about the things to pack in your hospital bag.  Some things to consider are what you would like to wear, music or photos you would like to bring, and any birthing assistance you may want.

It’s also a good time to think about what you plan to do with your child’s cord blood, which contains potentially lifesaving stem cells.  You have three options to consider – donate, privately bank, or discard your child’s cord blood.  It’s important to know your options so you can be prepared with a free collection kit should you choose to save your child’s stem cells for future use.

Recruiting Your Support Team

In planning for the delivery of your child, it’s important for the medical team to understand who you would like in the room to be sure they can accommodate your loved ones.  Some hospitals limit the number of people to two or three, so you may have to prioritize. You’ll also want to be sure you have the right people on speed dial when it is time to head to the hospital or birthing center. Unforeseen events can change this plan, but it is important to have a starting point so your loved ones know what to expect.

Planning Your Labor

With labor comes pain and discomfort, so researching relaxation techniques and pain management options in advance will make your decisions easier when the times comes.  Options for pain medications vary in terms of how quickly they work, whether they enter your baby’s bloodstream, and how they affect your ability to push.  You also have several natural techniques that may require some practice to get them right such as acupuncture, acupressure, and breathing exercises.

Delivery Room Decisions

After you deliver your child, you’ll also need to deliver your placenta. You have the option of delivering it naturally or with assistance. Your doctor or midwife may suggest a shot of pitocin to facilitate delivering the placenta and to minimize hemorrhaging after the baby is born. They can also use controlled traction, pulling on the umbilical cord while contracting the uterus. It is a good idea to discuss your options with your OB-GYN or midwife to understand your options.

Delivering Your Placenta

Though not nearly as exciting as your newborn, your placenta is a pretty spectacular thing. Weighing in at about one-fifth the size of your newborn, your placenta provided nourishment and oxygen to your growing child for 40 weeks.  Once routinely disposed of by hospitals, these days a growing number of women are consuming their placentas believing it has health benefits, such as boosting energy levels, stabilizing postpartum hormonal ups and downs, and helping with milk production.  You have the choice of taking your placenta home for spiritual or health reasons, encapsulating your placenta, or discarding it.

What To Do With The Umbilical Cord

There are also decisions to make about your child’s umbilical cord!  For nine months, your placenta has been delivering everything your child needs through that incredible cord, packed full of stem cells, red and white blood cells, even disease-fighting T-cells. It is important to take time to think about what to do with the blood that is left in your child’s umbilical cord to be sure it is put to the best use.  You have the option of delaying cord clamping to push more of those stem cells into your newborn and the option of saving their stem cells for future use through cord blood banking.  In preparing your birth plan for these important decisions it’s best to review your options with your OB-GYN or midwife.

Bonding with Your Baby

Labor and delivery are both exhilarating and exhausting. Once your newborn arrives, you’ll want to consider several firsts – the first time you hold your baby, their first bath, the first time you feed your child.  You will want to be sure to do what feels right for you, rather than relying on what others think. You will also have to consider how much time to spend with your newborn balancing bonding time with your need for rest and recovery after childbirth.

Newborn Medical Procedures

It is a good idea to be prepared for the routine medical procedures that come with childbirth, including vaccines, hearing screenings, antibiotic eye medications, immunizations, and circumcision.  These decisions may feel overwhelming, unless you have spent time to understand your options.

Digital Birth Plan

To make the process easier, Cord for Life has created a digital birth plan with all the things you will need to consider in planning for the birth of your child.  It is easier to fill out online or offline and simple to print and share with your doctor and family.


So much research is going on with stem cells from cord blood as scientists work to unlock the secrets of stem cells.  Much of the research centers on the anti-inflammatory properties of stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

Medical research into stem cells is ongoing, offering the potential to treat diseases or injuries that have traditionally been difficult to manage. Clinical trials exploring the potential for umbilical cord blood as a treatment include:

Some of the many intriguing studies hope to find cures for many disorders that effect children and adults include: 

Repairing Brain Functions

Progress is being made in understanding how stem cells from umbilical cord blood can improve the lives of children suffering with Cerebral Palsy and Autism.

Stem Cells and Cerebral Palsy

In fact, a recently published study by researchers at Duke University of children with spastic cerebral palsy found that an infusion of their own cord blood improved both their brain connectivity and motor function.

Stem Cells and Autism

Research into treating Autism with stem cells from cord blood has shown potential for improving socialization.  Based on these promising results, research continues to decipher the connections.

Keeping Memories Alive

Researchers are also exploring stem cells from umbilical cord blood as a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  Exploratory studies in mice have shown that stem cells from umbilical cord blood reduce behavioral impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  These initial findings have justified further exploration of how stem cells from umbilical cord blood could play a role in a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.


Stem cells perform three important functions:  1.  They renew themselves; 2. Differentiate into other cells; and 3. Renew other cells. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can restore the immune system following  chemotherapy or radiation for leukemia, lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases.

Historically, HSCs have only been available from bone marrow and peripheral blood transplants.  As cord blood processing and storage technology has advanced over the last thirty years, it is now superior to both bone marrow and peripheral blood as a source of HSCs.

Stem cells from umbilical cord blood are now widely used in clinical research and are a leading source of stem cells for cellular therapy.    In addition, stem cells from umbilical cord blood are increasingly available as transplant units stored in public and private cord blood banks steadily increase every year.

Stem cells from umbilical cord blood have some important benefits that stems cells from bone marrow and peripheral blood lack.    In considering private cord blood banking for your growing family, here are some highlights on the benefits of banking your child’s cord blood:

Cord Blood Offers More Than Bone Marrow

Should your child or another family member need a stem cell transplant, you’ll want to know there is a readily available genetic match.  The National Bone Marrow Registry and public cord blood banks won’t provide the same certainty as privately banked cord blood.

  • Your child’s stem cells are a perfect genetic match to them and a potential genetic match for siblings and other family members.  Finding a matching unrelated donor is less certain, particularly for minorities or mixed-race families.
  • Cord blood is collected in advance, tested, and stored frozen, ready for use.  Bone marrow donation requires finding a match, scheduling surgery, collection under general anesthesia, and recovery.
  • A small volume of cord blood can be used in transplants.  Bone marrow transplants require a quart of more of bone marrow and blood.

Cord Blood Has a Lower Risk of Complications

In thinking about the options for a stem cell transplant, safety and efficacy are critical to a full recovery.  Cord blood stem cells are superior to bone marrow stem cells in terms of risks of rejection, contamination, and infection.  They also outperform bone marrow in their ability to replace cells damaged or deceased from chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

  • Cord blood has a lower risk of graft-vs-host disease (GVHD). Approximately 10% of patients experience complications from chronic graft-versus-host disease from cord blood transplants versus 60% for bone marrow recipients.  Graft-versus-host disease occurs when immune cells from the donor (the graft) attack the recipient’s cells (the host).
  • Cord blood transplants have a low risk of tumor growth, low risk of viral contamination, and high cell proliferation capacity.
  • Latent viral infection is rare in cord blood donors.  Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is present in <1% of U.S. cord blood donors, but >50% of U.S. adult bone marrow donors.  Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that can infect almost anyone.  While it rarely causes problems for healthy individuals, it is a leading cause of death in bone marrow transplants as a result of their weakened immune systems.

Source:  Bioinformant Worldwide, LLC: Complete 2015 – 2016 Global Cord Blood Banking Industry Report


In addition to potentially life-saving stem cells, your newborn’s umbilical cord blood also contains their DNA.   Storing your child’s cord blood ensures that their baseline genetic information will be available if ever needed.

What Can Genes Tell Us?

The sum total of all the information coded into your child’s individual genes is their genome.  Simply put, it’s what makes your child unique.  Your newborn’s genome determines whether they’ll grow up to be right or left handed, have brown or blue eyes, if they’ll need glasses, and how well they’ll sleep at night.

The information locked away in your newborn’s genome can be decoded to help anticipate potentially serious health risks, both now and as they grow older.  Hospitals routinely conduct genetic screening tests on newborns using a heel prick test.  Using a small amount of a newborn’s blood they screen for a number of harmful or potentially fatal genetic disorders.  These tests help identify potential risks for biotinidase deficiency, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, galactosemia, maple syrup urine disease, MCAD deficiency, phenylketonuria, severe combined immunodeficiency, sickle cell disease, tyrosinemia, and toxoplasmosis.

With decades of research into mapping the human genome, researchers have also identified many of the genes associated with worries that keep parents up at night as their children grow – whether they have any allergies to foods, vaccines, medicines; questions about their physical development; and risks for inherited diseases later in life, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Heart Disorders, Breast & Colon Cancer, or to any other diseases.

Genetic Insights from Cord Blood

Scientists working to map the entire human genome don’t yet know all the associations between genes, childhood health, and personal development.  However, what they’ve already discovered can be an early warning system for topics to discuss with your pediatrician.

Genetic testing of your child’s cord blood can identify potential food intolerances, like peanut allergies, lactose intolerance, and egg allergies.  It also can identify potential immunities to vaccines, including measles-mumps-rubella, and smallpox; lethal reactions to medications like codeine; and difficulties metabolizing vitamins, such as D, B12, and E.  Armed with this knowledge, your pediatrician can do further testing to confirm whether there is cause for concern.

You doctor can use only a small portion of the stem cells you stored with us for genetic analysis.  They would simply contact us to request a small sample of your child’s stem cells for DNA analysis.  Our team will have it processed and shipped to them.

Banking Cord Blood Archives DNA!

Newborn DNA is unlike that of older children and adults.  In addition to the information about risks for inherited genetic diseases, it holds important baseline genetic information.

Doctors can compare this baseline genetic information later in life to find possible changes caused by environmental factors. Differences in the genome can provide insights into how food, drugs, stress, or exposure to toxins effect how genes function.  Understanding environmental versus inherited factors can help determine available treatment options.

Banking your child’s cord blood also stores a record of their baseline DNA if ever needed.


Our purpose is to provide the expectant mothers with information necessary to discover the lifesaving potential of umbilical cord blood.

Copyright Cord for Life 2019. All rights reserved.