April 2, 2020 by Erin

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.


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.

Deborah A. Sardone

Ms. Sardone has over 30 years of clinical laboratory experience as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist and Supervisor, including over 25 years with Central Florida Regional Hospital (CFRH). She was Supervisor of Quality Assurance, Safety and Education at CFRH for 11 years, held the positions of Blood Bank Supervisor for 11 years, and Hematology Supervisor for 1 year. She has participated in both sides of the inspection process, serving on the College of American Pathologists Inspection team for CAP Hospital Accreditation in Florida, and assisting in receiving accreditation by The Joint Commission (TJC), American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the inspections of the clinical laboratory. Ms. Sardone is licensed by the State of Florida as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist in Immunohematology, Hematology, Serology and Clinical Chemistry. She is a certified Clinical Laboratory Technologist with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). Ms. Sardone serves as Manager of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs at Cord For Life, Inc. overseeing all licensing and regulatory agencies to ensure that the highest quality in all aspects of cord blood collection, processing, and storage is maintained.  Ms. Sardone has been with Cord For Life for over 5 years of dedicated service. Her skills and knowledge in blood banking and quality assurance have enabled her to establish, implement and maintain a superior quality system that meets and exceeds all standards and regulatory requirements for Cord For Life, Inc.

Personal Background:

  • Sardone is a graduate of The City University of New York in Medical Laboratory Technology.
  • Sardone is licensed in Florida as a Clinical Medical Technologist and she is nationally recognized as ASCP Certified.
  • Sardone enjoys photography and dancing.

Kelli Cable

Ms. Cable has 35+ years – experience in Office, Management, Human Resources, & Customer Service. As the Director of Administration and Client Services, Ms. Cable joined Cord for Life in December 2006, and has assisted in providing more efficient and effective ways to ease the enrollment process, as well as obtaining and establishing excellent customer care during the enrollment and donation period; for our Storage and Donation customers.

Personal Background:

  • Mrs. Cable is married and has two boys.
  • In 1994, Ms. Cable moved to Orlando from Boulder, Colorado.
  • Has a passion for travel and enjoys watching NFL games, cheering on her favorite team, the Denver Broncos.

Donald Hudspeth

Mr. Hudspeth has over 28 years of clinical laboratory experience as a certified Medical Technologist (ASCP), including ten years with the University of North Carolina Hospitals and 18 years with Cord for Life. Mr. Hudspeth is licensed by the State of Florida as a Clinical Laboratory Supervisor in Immunohematology, Hematology, Serology, Clinical Chemistry, Molecular Pathology and Microbiology as well as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist and has completed the AABB Certification in Cellular Therapies through George Washington University.

Mr. Hudspeth is a registered Technologist with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and a member of the Cord Blood Association. He has also enjoyed teaching Immunology to Clinical Laboratory Science and medical school students at UNC while working in the UNCH clinical labs.  Mr. Hudspeth is an Eagle Scout with 5 palms and has served numerous volunteer positions within the local Scouts BSA Troop and Pack.

Personal Background:

  • Mr. Hudspeth received his Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • “Eagle Scout with Five Palms”
  • Avid golfer with a 14 handicap.

Sara Irrgang, M.D

During the last two years of Medical School, Dr. Irrgang was in the United States Navy 1915 Ensign Program and completed a clerkship at the Naval Hospital at Charleston, South Carolina as well as a research clerkship at the Naval Aerospace Institute at Pensacola, Florida. Dr. Irrgang completed her four year Pathology residency at Baylor University Medical Center, and her internship at the University District Hospital, Rio Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Currently, Dr. Irrgang is Board Certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and licensed in the states of South Carolina, Texas, New Jersey and Florida and she is an Associate Medical Examiner at the District Nine Medical Examiners Office. Dr. Irrgang is a fellow at numerous organizations including; The College of American Pathologists, National Association of Medical Examiners, Florida Association of Medical Examiners, Seminole County Medical Society, and the Florida Medical Society.

Personal Background:

  • Dr. Irrgang received a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of South Carolina.
  • Attended the Medical College of South Carolina at Charleston where she earned a Medical Doctorate Degree.
  • Dr. Irrgang has a passion for breeding show horses
  • Dr. Irrgang is a 4-H leader in Lake County, Florida
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