One of the major costs of a baby is the pregnancy and giving birth. A home birth is an option that some people should consider in order to save money. Daughter Person was born at home with the assistance from midwives. They charged $3500 to my insurance company, and I paid $20 – for *everything* from the midwives. There are some “hidden” costs that you learn about as you go along, but they did not exceed $1200 (and some of it was reimbursed by my insurance).
A home birth is not for everyone. It’s only available to “normal” pregnancies – anything high-risk means you have to begin working with an obstetrician (twins, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, breech baby, etc). There is no pain medication available – and I know that’s important to many people. There is always the risk of an emergency, and you’re not already in the hospital.
There are also definite benefits: you’re at home, someplace you are comfortable and “relaxed” – or as relaxed as possible while in labor. There is no “going home”, because you’re already home. I was out and about visiting the afternoon after Daughter Person was born (not the best idea in hindsight, but *shrug*).
Why did I choose a home birth?
It wasn’t for any financial reason – we had excellent insurance, and I would have paid about $500 total for a hospital birth – although, I’ve heard that an epidural is considered “elective” and insurance doesn’t cover it, but I can’t confirm that. I did a home birth for the simple reason that I *hate* hospitals. I am extremely needlephobic, and just the thought of getting blood drawn “just because” was enough to keep me from getting pregnant to start with. Until I found my midwives (Birthcare & Womens Health). They offer an introductory session every month, and I attended and asked questions. I could get by with 2 needles total – assuming everything went well, and we decided to take the risk. The fear of needles was stronger than the fear of labor pain – and for any woman who’s given birth, that gives you an idea of how much I hate needles – I still would rather go through labor again than have blood drawn.
Safety of Home Birth
There are many differing statistics on the safety of home birth – and much of it depends on the skills of the midwives. As any couple who’s been pregnant can tell you, there are *many* things that can possibly go wrong during a pregnancy and birth, and you can’t necessarily be prepared for all of them – whether at home or in a hospital. So many women choose a hospital on the off chance of something going wrong – they’re already in the hospital. Home birth midwives focus on reducing the risks that something will go wrong – that’s why any high-risk pregnancy cannot attempt a home birth. There are also backup plans in place in case something does go wrong. My midwives work closely with an obstetrician who will take emergency cases. If anything had started going wrong, I would have been transferred to the closest hospital via ER. If I had decided that *I* wanted to be in the hospital for any reason (like pain medication), we would transfer to the obstetrician’s primary hospital. Luckily, I made it through pregnancy and delivery without any major issues (although there were some close calls). But home birth midwives are aware of the risks, tell their patients ahead of time and let their patients decide.
There are some “hidden” costs to home birth that are not easily available. The first is that my midwives required that we attend a natural birthing class: $175. The second is that we have to provide a majority of the disposable supplies: $85. The final cost is that the midwives work with a birthing assistant (also a nurses’ assistant), and we have to pay for their services. Our birthing assistant charged $800. 80% of this was reimbursed by my insurance company, but it’s also a cost that we paid up front. So our total costs including the midwives (assuming no insurance) would have been $4,700. That’s a lot less than the quoted $30,000-$50,000 average for a hospital birth.
One question I get often when people hear that I gave birth at home is “how was it?”. I won’t go into details, but it was both long, hard and empowering. I didn’t really notice the midwife checking vital signs periodically, and I was relatively comfortable at home. I could eat what I want, when I wanted, I could get in the shower if I wanted, I could pretty much do anything I wanted within reason. After Daughter Person was born I felt very empowered and strong. I had really done that. The midwife stayed around until 4 hours after Daughter Person was born to make sure everyone was OK, and then we were left at home as a new family of three. Not to say that women can’t feel this way with a hospital birth, but that’s my experience.
Daughter Person did have to go into the NICU when she was 3 days old, but not for any reason related to the home birth – she developed severe jaundice and needed a blood transfusion.
I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have about my home birth. Feel free to comment or e-mail me directly: mom at 3isplenty dot com.