What do you remember most about your child’s birth and the days that followed? Was it the moment she was laid on your stomach and you counted her tiny fingers? Was it when you held him in your arms, claiming his nose and mouth as yours and conceding his hair and eyes to your partner?
I sincerely hope your memories aren’t of worrying how to pay for the birth or hearing that insurance won’t cover rapidly adding up expenses. But sadly, for many of us, that is one of the memories that cannot be erased from among so many happy ones.
In 2009, the average national cost for a vaginal hospital birth (no complications or anesthesia) was $9716, with a cesarean costing nearly $22k! The alternatives to giving birth in the current healthcare dictated system are to not use health insurance and use the hospital’s cash rate, try to negotiate a better rate, or opt out completely and have a home birth.
Although my husband and I are not in a rush for number two, this is a very real issue for the birth of our next child. Our health insurance changed recently and won’t really cover a birth at our choice hospital, which has an amazing team of certified nurse-midwives on staff. Which leaves us with only a few options:
- birth at a not-so-great but covered hospital
- birth at the better hospital, but pay minimum $7-8k, but potentially much more, out of pocket (which is just not really an option for us)
- birth at home
Regardless of what we decide, the underlying issue remains:
At some point in history, our right as women to birth how we want, where we want, and with whom we want, was taken away. I may be just one person fighting her insurance company, but I hope I’m not the only one. As more of us demand midwife-covered births and birth centers, we are more likely to change the very broken birth system in this country. We owe it to ourselves and to our daughters and sons who deserve better.
How has health insurance, or the lack thereof, affected your ability to birth how you wanted? Or are you pregnant now and facing some difficult decisions?
Kate is passionate about women having the birth experience they desire and supports the inclusion of midwifery into the OB/GYN-dominated model. She writes about family life and her inspiring little peanut at Boomerang Mama.