Subterranean Homebirth Blues

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government – Bob Dylan

Quick!  What’s the most common reason for a hospital stay in U.S. cities? The birth of a child.  No wonder hospitals and insurance companies feel threatened by home birth.

Janelle and I opted for water birth the first time around (back in the big city doncha’ know), but this option is not available at our local hospitals.  After some serious discussions and contingency planning we have decided that our second child will be born at home, likely in our living room.

We selected a licensed midwife to assist us and my wife contacted her insurance company to petition that they cover the fees charged by our chosen health care provider.  Janelle did a great job of presenting the idea, highlighting the cost savings and proven safety of home birth.  If we were to go the hospital route we would likely pay around three thousand dollars and her insurance would kick in roughly six grand.  Under our home birth scenario, total costs will be around three thousand dollars.

There is a small but real possibility that we will end up at the hospital anyway due to unforeseeable circumstances, but of course these additional costs would have been tacked on to our “normal” hospital bill anyway.  Several letters later, the Blue Cross we bear is still keeping us in suspense despite the fact that costs, risks, and unnecessary interventions are kept to a minimum when low risk mothers choose to give birth at home.

The decision to uncouple low risk pregnancy and birth care from the expensive and often counterproductive aspects of hospital care is somewhat controversial, but could be huge in the context of our current effort to reform health care in the U.S.  The rate of cesarean sections has skyrocketed in hospitals, the result of a cascading series of interventions that accompany a high percentage of hospital births.  It may be true that the hospital is the safest place to be in a medical emergency, but it can be downright dangerous for an otherwise healthy mother or newborn.

When you write up a grocery list, do you use your computer, or a pen and paper?  If a flying insect insists on repeatedly buzzing your tower do you hit it with a flyswatter, or call an exterminator?  A good friend of mine recently reminded me that there is nothing inherently wrong with using higher forms of technology as long as we are mindful of using the right tool for the right job.  Hospitals are great at mitigating catastrophe, not so great at facilitating a drug and surgery free birth experience for mothers and babies.  I am hoping that our insurance company will make the right choice, but if the pump don’t work it’s ’cause the vandals took the handle.

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