Bringing Out Baby ... at Home
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
"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
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. -->