Why are people choosing home birth over hospital birth?
In a day and age where we have such incredibly advanced medicine that has prevented and cured countless deaths, diseases and debilitations why in the world would someone choose to deliver their baby at home over a hospital? There are several ranging reasons but here are the top reasons I have found people would rather have a home birth. (and they’re not as crazy as you think.)
Hospitals evoke feelings of safety for many people, because they know if something serious happens, they can help. For many though, (and I would venture to say most) if we knew everything would go perfectly regardless, we would feel much more comfortable laboring at home. Under normal circumstances hospitals poking and prodding, weird gowns, rules, and regulations, harsh lights, bustling people everywhere makes us nervous. When you’re trying to deliver a baby, little sensitivities matter a whole lot. 1 in 4 women report being fearful, anxious and overwhelmed due to their unfamiliar hospital environment. Fear actually causes more pain by tensing your body and causing you double the work. Fear increases tears and prolongs birth. I will one day dedicate a massive blog just to the link between fear and pain. But the point is, if you want a fantastic birth, you need to be where you feel the most comfortable and at peace. That could very well be a hospital for you! But if you are wanting a homebirth and are high risk, I would highly recommend you hire a doula to create that environment for you to in the hospital setting – it can be done!
Okay, I know. This one sounds backward. We do the hospital for safety right? Yes, sometimes. Other times and in other ways, home births can be safer. The hospital is full of very sick people. That’s what it’s there for. Your home probably isn’t. Many parents fret over exposing their fresh baby to multiple illnesses and diseases on their first day in the world.
Let’s talk about the C word. American hospitals are the best in the entire world for life-saving, high-risk procedures in childbirth, but the very worst (in comparison to other developed nations) for delivering safely in normal low-risk birthing conditions. We have a 23.9% Cesarean rate for low-risk pregnancies! Another study says 31%! That needs to be stopped! Home birth with a certified midwife in the US is at a 5.2%. Whoa. Remarkably better. Is it understandable now, how some might choose to have their low-risk birth at home with a midwife rather than at a hospital? Parent’s might also choose home birth for safety reasons because it means they won’t have an unnecessary induced labor, and they’ll typically have much fewer interventions. While doctors tend to think cost/benefit ratio and opt for more interventions for the worst case scenario (which some mothers love), most midwives are very good about minimizing any intervention unless necessary.
Cost and/or lack of insurance.
For a low-risk birth in the hospital, you’re looking at about $18,000 for a vaginal delivery or $28,000 for a C-section. Whoa, mama. Most of it will be covered by some good insurance if you have it and people are, on average stuck with a bill of $3,400
Prenatal care done by a hospital is around $2,000 without insurance. Insurance might pay all of it, but many times people are left with small bills throughout their pregnancy.
The average midwife at a home birth in the Kansas City area costs around $2,500 including their prenatal care. That’s not all folks! Insurance can cover anywhere between 30%-60% of midwifery costs and midwives are typically more than happy to work out a payment plan with you. You do the math! These crazy home birth people sound a lot less crazy now, huh?
You can (almost) do whatever you want!
As long as everything is going well: You can use candles, incense, or essential oils. You can have your older kids participate. You can eat whatever, whenever. You can labor the way you want. You can stuff a whole lot of people in there if that’s your thing. You can keep your baby skin to skin as long as you like and not be pressured to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. You won’t have anyone waking you up every hour or half hour to monitor you. You don’t have to get up and get into traffic or bad weather to get to a hospital. Homebirth is what you make it.
Home birth is definitely not for everyone. I won’t try to pretend it is. It’s for low-risk moms that live close enough to hospitals in case of emergency, it’s for those that feel safest in their home and prefer not to be monitored. A mother’s instinct is a powerful thing, and I would just advise every pregnant woman and her partner to do as much research as possible. Don’t settle for less than your perfect birth. Meditate and visualize on how you want your labor and delivery to look. Ask a potential midwife how she would handle emergencies. And then trust yourself, you’ve got a little one coming that’s going to need to trust you too.