In May 2016, I was five months pregnant and trying to figure out the cost of childbirth. Here in Georgia, my choices were a “baby-friendly” hospital, a traditional hospital, or at home. A birth center has opened here since then, but I didn’t have that option at the time. My friend Allison in Minneapolis, on the other hand, had a choice between a home birth, a hospital, or one of many birth centers in her area. We both wanted our childbirths to be as unmedicated as much as possible.
My midwifery practice attended births only at the baby-friendly hospital, so I ended up choosing that option. Allison chose to give birth at the Minnesota Birth Center.
Each of us had a doula – a labor support person who provides continuity of care. The midwife or doctor is usually only present when things really get moving. The doula stays with you the entire time you’re laboring and frequently checks in after the birth once you’re back home. My sister-in-law was my doula, so that cost me nearly nothing, while Allison paid $800 for hers.
My labor was almost exactly 48 hours (about half at home and half at the hospital). I went to the hospital about 18 hours into it, only to be turned around. I hadn’t progressed enough, and I wanted to avoid unnecessary interventions.
So after a shot of painkiller to help take the edge off, we went back home. The next morning, we returned to the hospital and I was admitted. My daughter wasn’t born for another 18 hours or so, after which I spent another…