You’ve read Ina May Gaskin’s books and practically memorized all of the stats from “The Business of Being Born.” While you agree that there are some unavoidable situations in which a hospital birth is necessary, you hope that your baby’s birth doesn’t follow that path so you can have the planned home birth you’ve been dreaming about. Here are some things to consider as you plan for a safe home birth:

Finding a Great Midwife

Choosing a midwife to attend your home birth is an intimately personal decision. The right person for your sister or friend may not be right for you, but do go ahead and find as many personal referrals as you can. Interview multiple midwives in your area to find someone who you really connect with. The goal is to feel completely confident in both the midwife’s ability and experience, while also feeling a personal connection and understanding of one another so the midwife can tailor your care and birthing experience to meet your needs.

One metric that can help you narrow the field is an experience. Find out how many babies the midwife has delivered to date. If the midwife has decades of experience, it can make it easier to trust that she will be able to make any tough calls quickly and handle any challenging situations in a way that will be best for both you and your baby.

Plan Ahead for the Cord Blood

Cord blood banking has become a very popular practice, as it can offer your family numerous benefits down the road if a serious health situation arises. Though there is a common misconception that moms need to choose between delayed cord clamping (to allow the baby to get the maximum amount of blood and protect them from becoming anemic) and cord blood banking (which can help treat over 80 serious diseases), you can actually do both if you time it properly. Make your intentions clear with your midwife ahead of time so that she is prepared and can make sure she completes the collection of the cord blood in a timely manner to ensure that at least the minimum amount of stem cell-rich cord blood is collected.

Deciding to do a home birth is not a bad choice. However, you need to take these four things into consideration. What else would you add to this list?

Be Proactive About Your Health During Pregnancy

One key to a safe and healthy home birth is having a healthy pregnancy. Take high-quality prenatal vitamins daily, eat plenty of probiotic-rich foods and be sure to have some sort of high-quality protein with every meal. Make sure to increase your fiber and calcium intake by eating plenty of leafy greens, as well as other vegetables and fruits.

Be sure to get plenty of exercises, though it is important to listen to your body so you don’t overexert yourself. Aim to at least take a nice long walk a few days a week and to do some daily yoga stretches. Routine exercise during pregnancy has been found to have numerous health benefits, including increased energy levels, reducing instances of back pain, leg swelling, and constipation, as well as helping to condition your body for the ultimate workout: childbirth.

Prepare Your Home

In the weeks leading up to your home birth, tune into your maternal nesting instincts to spruce up your home and create a space that you will feel comfortable and relaxed in. Decide if you’ll have a birth pool and where you will put it and work out all of the logistics with your midwife so that you are fully prepared with everything you’ll need for the big day. Your midwife will usually give you a list of essentials to buy or some offer kits through a birth supply website. Gather all of the necessities for your birth kit as early as possible so that you don’t need to run any last-minute errands if labor begins earlier than expected.

Stock up on plenty of household and pantry must-haves as well. Have plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dish soap and tissues on hand so you can rest up at the end of your pregnancy and enjoy time at home with your newborn.

Plan What You Can Then Surrender to Fate

Birth can be unpredictable, but all you can really do is educate yourself and plan ahead as best as you can. Hiring a midwife who you love, creating a plan to save the baby’s cord blood, making your health a priority during pregnancy and preparing your home for the childbirth can make it easier to stick to your birth plan of having a safe and healthy home birth.