What I wish I could tell young pregnant me...
Explore your options Pam!
If I could go back in time and give young pregnant me some advice, it would be: explore your options!
Back then I didn't feel like I had the luxury of options. I knew having a baby would be expensive, so I assumed the best plan would be to go where my insurance was covered. I figured all other options would be much too costly. I finally had a job, low paying as it was, that provided health insurance.
For this reason, I chose to birth at a hospital even though I had always dreamed of a having an unmedicated water birth. I had very strong beliefs about birth, but in this important decision, regretfully, money was the deciding factor.
I resolved to do everything I could to prepare for a wonderful, unmedicated hospital birth instead. After weeks of Bradley classes and hours and hours of personal reading and research I felt prepared and comfortable with my decision.
Fast forward to my son’s birth day and my unmedicated labor ended in a very costly caesarean. I was shocked when the bills came in. I was so naive, I had insurance, but I hadn’t known to research the ins and outs of what would be covered. In hindsight, I could’ve weighed this with the cost of birthing at home or a birth center (of course with the small risk of having to transfer to a hospital). I’m not convinced I would’ve needed a cesarean if I hadn’t been in the hospital, but regardless, If I had known the debt we could accrue even with insurance, I would’ve rather accrued debt at the place of my choosing...a place where, ideally, my choices would be honored and supported. Who we choose as our providers is so critical. I also didn’t understand this at the time. I'll address that more in my next blog.
When money is tight, it’s hard not to make decisions primarily based on it. It's crippling. I wish I had had the openness to explore options even when I thought they were out of reach. I might have actually found a way to birth the way I dreamed of if I hadn't had such a limiting mindset.
Since then, I have seen people crowdfund for homebirth support, determined to have the birth they envisioned. I've also seen a birth center that works with payment plans and medi-cal! Doulas also typically accept payment plans. Some offer sliding scale prices and in the LA area, we even have a non-profit volunteer doula organization called Joy in Birthing, that matches people with doulas who can not otherwise afford to hire one. I'm also very happy to share that in 2023, medi-cal will start covering doulas!
So along with telling myself to explore all possible options, I would also say, when you have a vision for your birth, let this guide you more than worry.