Each pregnancy and delivery are a unique journey, and your child’s birth is no exception.

Often the birth of a child with CHD takes some extra planning. This may involve changing plans that you have already made for your child’s delivery.

You should know that you are not alone in planning for your baby’s arrival. When your baby is diagnosed with CHD before birth, your care team will work together to come up with a delivery plan that is tailored to meet all the needs of you and your baby.

One of the biggest questions families have during delivery planning is how to find the best place for their child’s birth and surgery (if needed). Your care team will give great consideration to where, how, and when you deliver your baby.

Throughout your CHD care journey, it’s essential that you communicate with your care team. This is a partnership, so you should feel comfortable telling them how you feel and what is important to you.

Essential Things to Know Before Delivery

Who Is On Your Care Team

The leaders of your care team are generally your obstetrician and the pediatric cardiologist who counsels you about the fetal heart condition during your pregnancy. Other members of the care team may include medical professionals such as nurse coordinators, nurse practitioners, and social workers. Everyone takes part in delivery planning and makes sure you get the information and support you need.

Where You Will Deliver

Delivery planning takes into account several factors. This includes your baby’s heart condition and what level of care the delivery hospital can provide. It also includes special considerations about your health and any needs you may have for additional medical attention.

How and When You Will Deliver

Most babies with CHD do well during labor and can be born in the same way as any other baby, as close to the end of pregnancy as possible. But some babies with CHD do require a highly specialized or timed delivery. How and when you deliver is ultimately a decision that comes from your care team after thoughtful review.

If Your Baby Will Need Special Care

Your obstetrician will make sure that your care and delivery method are appropriate for both you and your baby’s condition. They will also work with the pediatric cardiologist to discuss what care the baby might need during and after delivery. Some infants do not need immediate specialized care after birth.

Setting Your Expectations for Delivery

  • You may need to stay close to the hospital

    If your baby does need specialized care in the immediate period after birth, your delivery plan may include moving closer to a hospital prior to delivery. Your care team will advise you on when you need to relocate. Most larger, specialized hospitals can help parents find local housing to stay in before and after delivery. A social worker may be assigned to your case to help you.

  • There may be a lot of people in the delivery room

    The entire care team will be ready to assist both you and your baby on the day of delivery. Often the delivery room can feel like a busy place – especially right when the baby is born.

    Medical centers differ in who is present in the delivery room but typically it can include additional nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, and physicians for extra support as needed.

  • You may or may not be able to hold your baby

    All parents want to greet and love their newborn baby. However, the physicians and nurses want to provide your newborn with the best medical care for their CHD. It is possible that you might not be able to spend time holding or feeding your baby right after birth if they need care right away. This may be upsetting to you, but remember that your baby’s needs are a priority at this time.

  • Your baby may need to be closely monitored

    After leaving the delivery room, your baby may go to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) – or to a cardiovascular or pediatric intensive care unit – for monitoring and care. The location is usually decided before birth. The type of unit selected for your baby’s early care depends on both your delivering center and the unique needs of your baby.

Planning Ahead for Delivery

They helped us be aware that things could change.

Rachel, CHD Parent

PARENT TIPManaging Feelings About Your Baby’s Delivery

Planning for delivery is usually an exciting and emotional time. But when your child has CHD, delivery planning may feel out of your control. This can be frightening or frustrating or both.

The best way to deal with uncertainty and mixed emotions about delivery is to understand what will happen and why. Getting more information and clarity about the delivery plan will help you and your partner feel empowered and more in control of the process. Some parents also find emotional support helpful during this time.


Many families ask about whether a special type of delivery is recommended for the birth of their baby because they are concerned about how a baby will do during labor.

You may need a more specialized or timed delivery if your baby requires a procedure – like a surgery or catheterization – immediately after birth. In that case, multiple types of specialists are needed to deliver care to an infant.

Your care team will talk more with you about this planning if they think it’s required for your baby’s delivery. This type of planning might require you to have a Caesarean section or a planned induction of labor with medications.

Ask questions to be sure that you understand a recommended procedure and any potential risks or complications.

It depends on the newborn’s condition. While some babies do require specialized care in an ICU, other babies can go to a unit that is closer to a regular nursery. Babies that don’t require immediate specialized care and monitoring may be able to stay in the delivery room with their parents for longer periods of time after birth.

It may be possible for a birth support person, often a partner, to follow the baby to the ICU while you recover from your delivery.

If a mother would like someone to go with the baby and to have support for themselves after birth, they can have a second support person come to the delivery room after the first birth support person leaves to follow the baby to the ICU.