Unassisted, At-Home Water Birth, First Baby: Good idea/Bad idea?

I really want to have a water birth, at home, but I cannot afford a midwife (especially since it will add up to $16K, by the time I'm done having the four kids I hope to have).  I have looked into my insurance, but they will not cover anything outside their hospitals, and do not allow water birth, even if I bring my own tub to the hospital.

This will be my first child, and I don't know if it's necessarily a good idea to head into this blindly (since I have no experience).  I have faith in how God designed my body and the instincts He gave me.  So I'd like to trust in that and not a doctor who wants to get home in time for dinner.  I just don't want to be putting me or my child in unnecessary danger.  I'd rather not have the birth of my dreams than have something terrible happen because I didn't take precautions.

However, I desperately want to have a water birth, at home or not.  I just need to know if I should even continue to consider the idea.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Krista,
I had my first baby at home but I did use a certified nurse midwife who was contacted with my insurance company. I don't know how your insurance works but my insurance covered my prenatal care with the midwife but they did not cover the actual charges for the birth. So I ended up paying about $1200 to my midwife and the insurance paid her about $1200. Do any of the midwives in your area take insurance?
Is it the hospital that doesn't allow water birth or your insurance is saying that they won't cover your birth at the hospital if its in the water? If they are saying they won't cover you to have your baby in a hospital if you are in the water when the baby is born, that makes absolutely no sense at all. Perhaps the information you were given was wrong. I worked at an insurance company for 7 years and believe me you don't always get the right information, especially in situations where you are asking about home births and water births and that kind of stuff. Most people are clueless about what is actually covered in these types of situations, even the people who work at the insurance company and should know.
Well, my insurance is my hospital...same company. It's Kaiser Permanente.

Midwives here absolutely do take insurance, but not Kaiser. Kaiser won't cover outside health care, because they seem to think that they have everything everyone needs right there in their hospitals. The weird thing is, there are Kaiser hospitals in other parts of the state (I live in California), and in other states that do have water birth. So I don't know if the Kaisers near me just don't want to deal with the liability of it or what...

I have written to nursing staff as well as "member services" and both have told me that they won't cover it. They tell me that they provide birthing stools and birthing balls, as though they are acceptable substitutes. I have become pretty frustrated with them. Usually Kaiser is very forward thinking, and all about preventative medicine, so why aren't they providing water birth? *Sigh*

Thanks for trying to help me with the insurance issues. :)
Yeah, Kaiser is tricky to deal with. It sounds like the hospitals in your area are just not equipped with tubs in the maternity ward. Sorry you are in that situation. Would it be realistic for you to travel to another part of the state?
My personal opinion is that it's risky to do it by yourself without at least a midwife present. But ultimately it's your birth and I would not begin to tell you what to do.
The closest one I know that has water birth is an 8 hour drive (Roseville, near Sacramento), probably twice that in rush hour, because I'd have to go through LA. Realistic? I think not. ;)

I live in Soouthern California, out in the desert area...southeast of Riverside (don't know how familiar you are with the area). There's not a whole lot out here, but I'd be willing to drive an hour, possibly...(like to San Diego or LA). I keep looking, but can't find any information about water birth at Kaisers in this area. :/
personally I would not attempt an unassisted birth at home. have you considered using a hospital midwife (or maybe even dr.)covered under your insurence for prenatal care and switching to a home birth midwife for just the birth itself. it may not sound ideal but at least it will cut expenses.
From what I have found, it doesn't cut expense. I looked in to it, but midwives charge for the whole package and say the reason is that they need to get to know you, and that the real trouble for them is the birth itself, so they wouldn't charge any less. :/
Remembering my first birth, I would caution you to try to find an alternative to UC. My labor was smooth, but intense and a little scary since I was unfamiliar with all of it. When I got to 10 cm, my water broke and my son's heartrate started to decelerate during contractions. I'm not telling you that to scare you, but to illustrate that without my midwife there, I wouldn't have had the presence of mind to 1) think to check the heart rate, or 2) be able to stimulate my baby to help his heart rate normalize.
I have heard of women who have absolutely amazing unassisted births, so the choice is ultimately up to you. Don't assume though that a hospital birth would be some kind of horrible second choice. A lot of women have very fulfilling births in a hospital. Maybe there's a way you could labor in a shower at the hospital? You could at least have the water therapy idea. Just a thought.
You said that you had faith in how God designed your body and in the instincts that He gave you. Hang on to that, because if you trust Him in that, how much more can you trust Him to take care of you and the life that He's growing inside of you!
I agree with some of the other gals...it is a bit risky but not unheard of. I think once you have been thru one labor and delivery, it wouldn't be so risky because you would be armed with so much more information and know how. Things get a bit crazy when you are in labor and your rational thinking goes to the way side. That is why it is so important to have a strong support system to keep you going. (Not that your partner wouldn't do that...it just scares them to see the one they love in pain and the unfamiliar situation. So when you are in labor and moaning that you can't do it and want to go to the hospital, he is gonna get you to the hospital.) But if you have experienced it before and he has witnessed it before then it would be easier to work you thru it. Maybe try what Michele said and see a covered Dr or Midwife until the last 4 weeks and switch to a home birth midwife. That will cut your out of pocket expense a lot and you can still have the reassurance and knowledge of a midwife. With the next pregnancy you can decide how you want to process and you will have a lot more confidence in your decision because the unknown factor will not be there. Good luck in whatever you decide and trust that your body can do it!
Kaiser (my insurance/hospital) isn't real flexible. They don't allow anything to do with water... They said they have birthing stools and balls and I can walk. They suggested that I should be glad enough with that. (I just generally didn't appreciate their whole attitude). From what I hear, it doesn't get any better once you're there either. In fact, it gets worse. They don't allow you to labor more than 10-15 hours. They induce you, then you end up needing an epidural, then you don't progress, so you need a C-section. No, thank you! I've considered the idea of laboring until the last possible minute at home then heading in once I know I'm in transition. It may be too late though, which is sort of why I started to consider birthing it at home and slyly saying, "Oops, I waited too long to go in."

I have had a very short bit of medical training...So I know how to take my own blood pressure...and I have some understanding of how things work. :P I would continue to do plenty of research as well. Like I said below, I have a friend who may be able to help me. She has training, but no experience (except her own C-sections).

I have just been thinking...what better way to give God glory than to trust Him, literally, with my life (and my child's life). But I don't want to be one of those off the wall weirdos who refuses treatment because I believe God healed me, then I end up dying. With that said, I'll be continuing to pray about it, and see if I can figure out where God is leading me. And where He leads, He provides.
Just so you know, insurance policies and/or hospital policies don't override your right to make your own decisions regarding medical care. They cannot force you to do/not do anything. Your right to informed consent is absolute and is protected by both state and federal law in addition to court precedence. People often say the hospital policy says...or the hospital only allows you to...and believe that they must follow the policies. They are wrong. This doesn't mean you can demand a homebirth. It does mean that you do not have to follow their "rules" once in the hospital. If you choose to be in the shower they have to deliver you in the shower. They can't make you do anything. This includes how long they "let" you labor or what position you choose to be in during labor and delivery. If they threaten that they won't pay if you don't follow their "rules/advice" then you can sue and any Dr involved can be help both criminally and civilly liable for "assault and battery". Do some research on your rights to informed consent. Check out the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). Good Luck!
Thanks, that's super helpful! :)
I agree with all of the women. (Hi Kate!) I wouldn't do my first birth at home by myself either. If you want to have a water birth and you'd rather have it at home, just find a good midwife and work out a payment plan if you can't afford her fees all at once. They are usually pretty good about that. Kate (the frist reply) is my sister and we both used the same midwife for our births (I have had 3 VBAC homebirths with this midwife) and she's amazing. I can only imagine that most midwives are pretty flexible as she is, especially because they are the minority when it comes to birthing options and have to kinda take what they can get.



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