Why We’re Doing a Home Birth   3 comments

Come this December, whenever Baby decides to come, there will be no packing a bag, taking out the trash, and driving to a hospital for us. Instead we’ll be relaxing at home, calling the midwives, and filling the birth tub. Barring complications, of course, I cannot imagine a better scenario.

This decision is the culmination of a long evolution of thought for me, and I don’t even remember when it started. For as long as I can remember I have felt that the act of giving birth is a natural act, and unless there are distinct risks of complications, not a medical procedure. Even as I teenager, as I recall, I did not like the idea of giving birth in a hospital. This may have been an attitude partly (subconsciously) influenced by cultural attitudes at the time, because I think that was when the labor and delivery rooms in hospitals started being redesigned to be more comfortable and private. But to me even a nice private birthing room with a non-metal bed and room for spouse/visitors is still located in a hospital. Maybe another contributor to my attitude is the fact that my father was an emergency physician. Other people visited hospitals to see their doctors for regular health care visits; but when I visited the hospital it was the emergency room to see my dad either for fun or for care. I was much older before realizing that my mental picture of a hospital is very different from the average person’s. In any case, I vaguely remember as a teenager not wanting to give birth in a hospital and wanting to celebrate the natural part of childbirth instead of smothering it in medical procedures. I’ve also always wanted a natural birth with no drugs, especially after I found out what an epidural is. At the time, though, the thought of home birth was extremely scary. Over the years I heard about birth centers and figured that would be a nice compromise, but that still felt like a compromise. I have no idea when the idea of home birth went from scary and unsafe in my mind to being the ideal birth setting.

In our previous house (rental), I would not have been comfortable giving birth. It was just not up to my standards (old, drafty, moldy, almost entirely carpeted), and so I was trying to adjust my feelings to be okay with some kind of birth center. Then we realized we could afford to buy a house, and moved into a house that will work quite well for a home birth. So when I first met the midwives who will assist us, and they gave me a packet of information, I needed no convincing but still enjoyed the reading. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to talk my husband into it as he is pretty much willing to along with whatever I want to do in this arena. It did make for interesting reading. Apparently the World Health Organization recommends that birthing be done outside of the hospital setting for normal pregnancies. It was really comforting to read statistics, articles, and stories about the experience of homebirth. Maybe it’s because I’m already fairly granola, but I have no problem believing that homebirth is just as safe if not safer than hospital birth, involves less pain, and will leave us with more satisfaction. I’ll be able to wear what I want; walk/sit/lay down when and where I want; eat or drink what and when I want. I’ll be in my own comfortable surroundings, if I want we can watch a movie during the early stages of labor to help me relax. It’s my domain, and not the doctors, so if I decide that I want no one in the room but the midwives and myself so be it, but if I feel like I want/need the support of others it is within my control to ask for them. In any case, there won’t be anyone in the house who is a stranger or with whom I am not intimately comfortable. When the baby is born, I don’t have to go anywhere, and over the course of the next few weeks the midwives will come to my house for the postpartum check-ups on both Baby and me. For that matter even now I don’t have to go anywhere as prenatal visits are also in my house. (Obviously not things like blood draws and ultrasounds, though.) We have an emergency plan, and the hospital we transport to will depend on time of day (read: direction of rush hour traffic). The midwives have many years of experience and I feel very comfortable with them. Like I said, barring complications this could be a dream. Painful, yes, but still a dream come true.

One other aspect of homebirth that I had been told but didn’t know until recently whether or not it is true is the cost. Our cost will be $4k for prenatal visits, birthing assistance, and postpartum visits for 6 weeks. My health insurance organization’s website has a cost estimator tool that I used because I was curious how that number compares to a typical hospital birth. In the Sacramento area, apparently the total cost for normal (no complications) birthing in a hospital is $10k – $14k!! Of course that includes costs for the blood draws etc that aren’t included in our $4k, so for comparison sake we’ll bump it up to $5k to include three blood draws, two ultrasounds, and the birth kit. Granted, if I went to an in-network facility, my direct cost would only be $3k. We’re assuming that the midwives will be considered out-of-network and so my deductible is $6k. Maybe we’ll get lucky when we submit the claim afterwards and we’ll get some of that back, but I doubt it. So basically, as far as direct costs go it is significantly more expensive to give birth in a hospital vs. home without insurance, but slightly more expensive at home vs. hospital with insurance. However, by keeping my company’s overall health care costs a little bit lower this year, I do my part to keep our premiums from going up next year and since I work for an employee-owned company that means more money in my pocket next year.

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Posted July 9, 2012 by mayakey in conscious living, health, pregnancy

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3 responses to “Why We’re Doing a Home Birth

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  1. I had a friend in Illinois who wanted to do a home birth with midwives. Her insurance company said the midwives were out of network and they wouldn’t cover it or some such thing….but she appealed somehow and they granted her midwives in-network coverage. (I think part of her argument with them was how much less expensive it would be.) If you are willing to jump the hoops and ask/appeal to your insurance company, they might grant in-network coverage to the midwives.

  2. We’re saving $500 by dealing with the insurance company directly instead of going through the midwives biller. My coworker who recommended this midwifery practice said that the insurance paid the cost in full, but that was before we switched to a high deductible plan. My thought is that we can submit a claim to the insurance company after the birth and see if they’ll cover us above the in-network deductible. If not I was thinking to argue that since they don’t have any midwives in network, therefore there isn’t a choice of in- versus out-of-network, they should apply the in-network deductible. I like the idea of adding the argument that it’s cheaper overall, as well.

  3. I hope your birth at home is everything you hope for! I had an out of hospital birth and it was truely the most amazing experience of my life to date. I have so many things I could say about how wonderful it was despite it also being the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Whenever I hear other people planning for a home birth I get so excited for them and it gives me a chance to remember my experience again. Thanks for that! Good luck!

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