Ginny and Charles are having their first baby and have started to consider their options for prenatal care and childbirth. While they are both healthy, Ginny will be 37 when the baby is born. They wonder if she will have to take any special steps to stay healthy, or if her age will limit her options. They are also expecting a lifestyle change after the baby is born, as Ginny plans to quit her job and stay at home.
Lucia and Roberto are having their third child. Birth has been relatively easy for Lucia, and she feels confident about her upcoming birth experience. However her first two children were born in Mexico City, and she wonders about what to expect with the American midwife and hospital. While Lucia is fluent in English, she is quiet and not accustomed to asserting herself. She wonders if her preferences regarding pain relief, breastfeeding, and infant care will be honored. Rob feels he can be more assertive, but because he "knows nothing about childbirth," he doesn't feel comfortable asking the midwife questions.
Carrie is having her first baby. She writes about her pregnancy experience in a journal and has learned a lot about herself so far. She relies on her sister Tina, who has two children, for emotional support and sometimes for financial support as well. Tina tells her to "get an epidural as soon as you can," but Carrie wonders about other options. She wants to make the healthiest decisions for her pregnancy and birth.
Lorinda and Marcus have just found out that they are expecting a second baby. They have integrated complementary therapies, such as therapeutic touch , chiropractic  care, and herbal medicine, into their family's healthcare for some time and approach pregnancy and childbirth in the same way. They face a few challenges, however, as their healthcare providers and even their own families sometimes misunderstand and question the decisions they have made.
Ginny, Lucia, Carrie, and Lorinda all have different expectations about childbirth and what they should do while pregnant. This is typical - each family has their own beliefs and hopes.
It is a challenge to discuss holism in pregnancy and childbirth within this wide range, but we hope to provide information that is useful and respectful of your values, whatever your background or previous experiences with holistic care.
A holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth has the following characteristics:
A holistic approach incorporates all of who you are and all you know about pregnancy and childbirth. You and your support team recognize your innate capabilities and seek to enhance them. You deliberately make choices that maximize your potential to have the healthiest pregnancy and the most natural progression of labor possible.
These choices cover all aspects of health that can affect your pregnancy and birth - not just physical factors like diet  and exercise , but also social , emotional , intellectual, and spiritual  factors, such as your relationships, your support system, and how you manage stress .
We will discuss these decisions in more detail in the sections that follow. As you will see, they generally lead to the best outcomes for both you and your baby. Of course, expectant mothers always try to choose what they believe is best for their baby and themselves, but they sometimes have incomplete or misleading information.
It is our hope that the Holistic Pregnancy and Childbirth website will provide you with accurate, evidence-based information that will help you make the best choices for your pregnancy and birth.