Today, I am thrilled to share with you a guest post written by Shannon Brown, the author of Natural Birth Stories. I had the privilege of contributing my own birth story to the book project earlier this year, and now that I have my own copy of Natural Birth Stories, I’ve been enjoying reading through through the many positive, natural hospital and home births recorded in the book.
When I was planning my first home birth, someone asked me, “Shannon, are you just doing that because you don’t want to pay for a hospital?” It’s true, I am pretty frugal, but for me that was just one of the many perks to home birth. The right choice for me was to have natural births regardless of the expense. I’ve had both of my children at home with midwives. If you’re already considering having a natural unmedicated birth, let me add just one more item to your list of the many benefits: Having a natural birth will save you money.
Unfortunately, it’s often not until you’re pregnant or have a baby that you find out that the cost of giving birth in American is outrageous! It has nearly tripled in less than a generation and continues to rise. Even with insurance, you’ll could end up paying thousands. Plus, you’ll get nickled and dimed for every piece of gauze and Ibuprofen tablet while you’re in the hospital.
When it comes to a natural birth though, the fact that the costs of birth are usually itemized might actually help you. If you cut out the requisite induction, epidural, continuous electronic monitoring, and of course the surgery, the cost of your natural birth will likely come out much lower than a more medical version. Costs can vary dramatically depending on your birth setting and location. If you opt for home birth, the cost is typically half to a third of what you’ll pay in the hospital.
On average, there’s a huge cost savings in having a vaginal birth when compared to a c-section. This saves about 25%. Even if you have insurance that covers maternity care (as of 2014 all insurance will), you’re still going to feel the difference. Out-of-pocket costs quadrupled between 2004 and 2010, and the trend promises to be even more dramatic after health care reform.
Lest you think that spending more money means better health care, listen to this. We pay more than any other industrialized nation, yet have one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates. Many of the most common interventions used in birth are not substantiated by medical research for improving outcomes for mother and baby. (Incidentally, Kate Middleton’s birth in a posh private hospital was likely cheaper than what the average American pays for her birth!)
Of course, there are some cases where it is truly medically necessary. However, of the 33% of births that end in c-section, more than half are preventable. The good news is, if you prepare for a natural birth throughout your pregnancy, you can significantly improve your chances. Up to 98% of low-risk moms could have an unmedicated birth if they so desired. (As an author and advocate for women’s choices in birth, I’m thankful that we have the options we do in this country. If you’ve researched your options and want an epidural, or genuinely need a c-section, the consideration of cost should not stop you from needed medical intervention.)
You can help make your natural birth a reality by preparing throughout your pregnancy. Be sure to choose the right care provider and birth location for you. Take the time to educate yourself through reading books on natural birth and by taking childbirth education classes. Spending $300 on a natural childbirth class like Bradley or Hypnobirthing will seem like a steal if you end up saving $20,000 on your birth. You should also do your best to stay healthy and low risk by eating right and exercising. Also, consider hiring a doula, especially if you’ll be in the hospital. While they typically cost several hundred dollars, studies have shown that they reduce incidences of epidural and c-section for their clients.
If you’re expecting or hoping to be soon, I encourage you to research and consider all of your options for childbirth. If you do decide on natural birth, saving money will be one of the many benefits you enjoy.
Shannon Brown is author of Natural Birth Stories: A Real Mom’s Guide to an Empowering Natural Birth. She writes about natural pregnancy and birth and frugal living at GrowingSlower. She and her wonderful husband are parents to an energetic little boy and a peaceful baby girl.