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Week 12- Home Birth, Birth Center, Hospital or Doula?

Part 10, Trying for Another Blog Series

The completion of this week will mark the end of the first trimester. I’m hopeful that lots will change in my hormones once that comes around.

To cap off the end of my first trimester, I got a lovely head cold. Nothing too bad, just enough to add to the ickiness and tiredness I’ve already been feeling. Thankfully it was a slow week of work for me, so I was able to take a couple of naps and restore a bit.

My kids both got sick the week prior. Anders had a vomiting bug, and Ella had a vomiting episode that I think was just food related. But if you’re in your first trimester and your kids get a stomach bug, you know the conundrum. You’re constantly wondering if you’ve caught it and on the verge of rushing to the toilet yourself!

Not much else had changed this week. It still doesn’t feel real, yet the baby is 3 inches big! The size of a lime this week! It’s hard to believe that a tiny human with legs and arms is floundering about inside me.

I’ll use this opportunity to write about how I came to the choice of having a hospital birth and my thoughts on having a doula.

In my ideal world, I would birth at home with a trusted midwife- we have some great ones here in Sonoma County. The reason I would choose a home birth is that I feel it would provide the most relaxed and comfortable setting for me to give birth. I also like the simplicity of it, no hook-ups, changing into gowns, and all the bells and whistles. As I’ve previously written, I also want a birth with as little interventions as possible, which is more likely to happen outside a hospital. I live within 10 minutes of a hospital, so I’m confident we could make it there in time should anything arise. But, the big but is, home birthing costs around $7,500. Which is $1,000 more than what I will pay out of pocket at the hospital. Not a big deal unless, we have to do both. If I have to get transferred to a hospital then we will have to pay both fees: $7,500 + $6,500. That’s something I just couldn’t swing.

My second choice would be birthing at a birth center, for similar reasons to the above: a more relaxed and comfortable environment, also less invasive than at a hospital. I hear great things about birthing centers and would love to have that experience as well, but the same “but” applies to this situation: if I have to get transferred to a hospital then I’m responsible for both fees. A birthing center is about the same cost as a midwife/home birth.

Ok, so that leaves me with the hospital. It’s my last choice. Granted, with I explored all of these options with my first pregnancy, but didn’t feel nearly as confident in birthing outside of the hospital as I do now. Two things have gained me confidence: my birthing experiences, and new knowledge about birth. The best advice I’ve heard about choosing your birthing environment is to make it as comfortable for yourself as possible. You want to be able to relax. This is one of the best things you can try to do during birth. So whatever environment induces that vibe for you is best!

So back to the hospital. I’m left with my last resort: Kaiser. Ok, I’ve birthed twice at Kaiser and I wouldn’t say it was bad at all. But it was a hospital: sterile, cold, white, strangers popping in and out, cords, hook-ups, etc. With all that being said, I had two good/great birthing experiences (to be explained in a later post).

The way to make a hospital birth better is to bring a doula with you- right?! Most would say so. The right doula will be there in a way that is discreet but supportive. Mostly, I would want my doula there to advocate for me when interventions are pressed. Because, imagine this: your deep in the throws of labor, between contractions around 8-9 centimeters, and they notice the baby’s heart rate is dropping, and dropping more, the nurses around you go from concern to emergency mode, calling in the OB, within minutes they are directing you to the operating room for a C-Section. This is one of my feared scenarios. Now, with a great doula by your side, she would be able to talk with the hospital staff about options: what happens is we wait, are there other options, etc. She can hash all this out while you’re stuck laboring, because lord knows you can’t do both! If I’m by myself then I’m sort of stuck! What am I going to do? Yell at the staff in the 30 seconds between my contractions?? And my husband, while on my side, is not equipped to engage in that argument from a knowledge standpoint. Nor am I really, for that matter.

There are many scenarios I envision like this: being told I need to induce my labor because of x,y,z. This one I feel I could handle better because there’s more time to think it through and call on friends rather than being in the throes of labor. Or what about laboring too long, and being told you need a C-Section. How hard would it be to fight to keep laboring when you’ve already been going for 24+ hours and they’re telling you they can end it?

So, I’d love to have a doula, and I probably should get one. What do doulas cost, the big question: the best in our area is $1,900. That comes with 3 prenatal appointments, labor support and 2 postnatal visits. For my husband and I, $1,900 is a lot of money though, especially on top of the $6,500 we’ll already be paying for the hospital services. There’s a lot of ways to look at this, right? You’re potentially saving money for additional costs that could accrue: physically repairing your body from c-section or tearing, mental repair from trauma. Or simply being happier with your birthing experience because of a doula. But when it comes down to it, that’s hard for me to justify and to do so enough to explain to my husband. So, I settle on the fact that I have had two successful births at the hospital (mostly the second one). My second birth went fast and relatively easy. So, it gives me hope that my third will follow that suit.

That’s where I am with it right now, subject to change over the remaining six months, of course.

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