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Bringing Out Baby ... at Home

Home Delivery

Other Benefits: Less Costly, Fewer Germs, More Bonding

"The average uncomplicated vaginal birth costs 68% less in a home than in a hospital," Anderson tells WebMD. Home birth is seldom covered by insurance, Monto says, but Lindberg points out that paying out-of-pocket for home birth may be less expensive than purchasing a pregnancy rider. HomeFirst charges $750 for physician-attended home delivery.

But the real benefits of home birth can't be measured in dollars or in statistics, these experts agree. Mother-child bonding, parenting, breast-feeding, and infant health may all be enhanced by the home birth experience.

"It's a family-centered event -- those first early hours are so precious," Lindberg says. "You're bringing a baby into a home full of love rather than a hospital full of germs."

Mothers and babies may be exposed to more types of disease-carrying organisms in the hospital environment, particularly in the nursery where all newborns are clustered together. While the home environment is hardly sterile, at least the mother has been exposed to the same organisms before and may have built up immunity against them.

By keeping mother and child together immediately after birth, home birth promotes bonding and breast-feeding, Shelton says. At HomeFirst, 100% of babies were still breast-feeding at 6 months and 1 year. Advantages of early breast-feeding include helping the mother to stop bleeding, clearing mucus from the baby's nose and mouth, and transferring disease-fighting antibodies in the milk from mother to baby.

After home birth, the mother has "a strong feeling that she can manage whatever joys and hardships she will meet when caring for the new small baby," Olsen says.

And if her husband takes part, he "will see, hear and experience with all his senses that he is married to the strongest and most wonderful woman he could imagine," he says. "Not a bad start for a new family!"

Laurie Barclay, MD, is a neurologist in private practice in Tampa, Fla. She's been widely published in both peer-reviewed scientific journals and medical textbooks. -->

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