Though it may seem like insurance has everything handled from screenings to routine appointments, the cost of delivery is another ball game. Doctors charge to see you in appointments and there are set fees for most of them but anything could happen the day your baby decides to be born. But hospitals will categorize you as either a vaginal or caesarean delivery, and they can definitely give you estimates. I called my hospital last week and asked for an estimate, so I can see what these numbers look like with and without insurance. My insurance only covers 80% of delivery costs and charges an extra flat rate the day I am admitted, so I want to be able to plan for the thousands I might owe rather than thinking of this stuff when my newborn is in my arms and I’m juggling a toddler on my knee.
This is weird but important. Some women decide to keep their placenta and turn it into shakes and vitamins that they can take after the birth of their baby since the placenta contains very rare and potent proteins and nutrients not found anywhere else. However, there are certain states that do not allow women to keep theirs and consider it hospital property. There have been cases where lawsuits were brought against some hospitals accused of selling women’s placentas to cosmetic companies for profit. Supposedly the ingredients in the placenta are perfect for rejuvenating creams and the like. Even if you think it’s gross to keep your placenta in your freezer at home (because doctors will ask you to bring a cooler to take your placenta home with you; they will not store it for you if you opt to keep it), you should at least think about what the possibilities are for your placenta. Ask if your hospital keeps placentas for research or disposes of them properly to see what makes you most comfortable.
I have learned in my 27 years alive that nothing means anything if it’s not in writing. Your hospital and doctors will always say that they will try to comply with your wishes but that they can’t make any promises. It’s not that they don’t care about you, it’s that they get to decide what happens at the end of the day–not you. And when you sign hospital contracts, you are saying that you agree. Your signature gives them permission to make medical decisions on your behalf in case of emergency. And sometimes this blanket permission means they will do things you didn’t want to do. Be aware of this so there’s less trauma when a situation arises that you have no control over. But also remember that you can write things, too. They don’t have to sign it but if it’s in your file, for instance, that you do not want your newborn to receive the heel prick or that you refuse STD testing, they have to respect that and can’t claim that they didn’t know. Do some research on what happens during delivery and make sure everything is in writing that you need to be, and conversely, that you don’t sign anything you’re uncomfortable with. This may mean asking for these contracts ahead of time so you can read them during your pregnancy rather than a few minutes before a human exerts itself out of your body and the pain makes you not want to think about anything but the baby.
4. Students & Visitors
There are hospitals that make a business out of letting students learn by giving them the opportunity to either be hands-on or spectators. Figure out beforehand if your hospital is a teaching hospital or not. Grey’s Anatomy has shown the world the gist of how a teaching program functions in real patient situations, and while I’m the first person to support education, I’m not okay with someone other than my doctor performing my delivery. And I certainly will not allow a random stranger to stare at my lady parts while I’m in a compromising position. Others can disagree with me (and will, I’m sure), but it’s my body and if the Harvey Weinstein blowout last year didn’t prove how monumental it is for a woman to choose who touches or who looks at her body then America should stop calling itself a civilized country.
I found out that I don’t have to be completely naked during my delivery. I’m allowed a sports bra even under my blue gown.
I also learned that I can bring music.
The C-section table is shaped like a T so I asked if I had to be strapped down because there are many hospitals that do it that way but my doctor said no. One arm has to be extended for monitoring blood pressure but the other can be free as long as it stays out of the surgeon’s way.
In the case that they have to use general anesthesia on me, they are likely to kick my husband out of the delivery room. I specifically said I didn’t want this so I talked to anesthesiologists at my hospital and they said they could be flexible if they spoke with my husband beforehand and he was okay to watch without fainting.
Bring pads for the bleeding that happens after delivery. They offer free ones at the hospital but I found that if I buy the brands I would if I was on my period, I would be more comfortable and feel a little less like a baby wearing diapers.
Chapstick, DVDs, Tylenol, socks, face wash and body lotion are all in my hospital bag. I want to be able to watch whatever show I want without commericals and I don’t want to pay $8 for lip balm from the gift shop. I’m also bringing my preferred brand of baby formula (just in case breastfeeding isn’t successful) and wipes (my first child had sensitive skin).
In short, you may not want to see how much there really is to think about with the delivery of your baby but the more you learn ahead of time, the more choices you will have and the better you’ll be able to make decisions.