I gave birth to two children in my local hospital. Both were fairly uncomplicated epidural births and about as enjoyable as a hospital birth can be. After my second son was born, I discharged myself from the hospital early. It was too much of a hassle being there. My husband wasn’t able to help me because he had to constantly tend to our two-year-old. A few years later, as we discussed having a third child, we began researching homebirth.
Our third and fourth children were intentionally born at home. All the research showed that it would be as safe as, or safer than a hospital birth in my case. My OB/GYN was fully on board with our plans. I visited them until the 20-week ultrasound in both cases. Both births were uncomplicated, normal births—like my first two.
Being able to move around as I saw fit, being able to eat and drink as I wanted, and being comfortable in my own home (versus being stressed out by just the fact of being in a hospital) made a huge difference in my experience of the births. My fourth child had some difficulty descending through my pelvis. If I hadn’t been free to move around—if I had been in bed with an epidural—I probably would have ended up with a c-section.
At home, however, I was able to find more favorable positions and he was born relatively easily. For both of my homebirths, the best part was having my family present and being fully comfortable in my own home. This was not only for the birth, but for the recovery period.
The problem with my homebirths, however, is that I had to pay for them out of pocket. In both cases, my insurance refused to cover them. The cost for my first was $5,000, and the second was $3,500. Both amounts are substantially less than the typical hospital birth, yet my insurance company preferred to spend more on a hospital birth.
I understand that not all pregnancies should end with a homebirth. However, in situations like mine, with a history of uncomplicated births and a healthy, normal pregnancy, there’s no reason why insurance shouldn’t cover homebirth. It’s not fair that many women simply can’t have a homebirth because they can’t afford it. If we’d decided to have more children, we would most likely have had to resort to a hospital birth because of the cost. Cost should not be a factor in a woman’s choice in how and where to give birth.