If you have planned a hospital birth but are now considering home birth due to the COVID-19 virus or the recent change in your hospital’s support person/visitor policy, this post is for you! Planning a home birth for the first time will have you asking lots of questions, but quickly switching to a planned home birth during a pandemic is an entirely different predicament.
The first question many ask is, “Where do I find a midwife?” or, “Is home birth covered by insurance?” But the first question you should ask yourself is, “Is home birth right for me?” Are you making a fear based decision or an evidence based decision? Most importantly, are you a good candidate for home birth?
First Things First
First, let’s talk about what switching to home birth during the pandemic would entail. Many pregnant people spend months preparing for their home birth, but you may only have a few weeks. Before you try to hire a midwife, check to see if you meet the following criteria:
- Be in good health with a low risk pregnancy (normal lab work, no blood sugar issues, no blood pressure issues, etc)
- Have adequate prenatal care and records for this pregnancy. It would be best to have a few copies of your labs and prenatal records on hand.
- Have taken a childbirth education class or plan to have a doula present for the birth
- Have a basic understanding of natural child birth and coping techniques either by taking childbirth classes or through previous experience
- Show a sense of responsibility and level headedness. This is a troublesome time for all of us, but home birth is not a place for chaos, anxiety/panic, or irresponsibility. You also must be willing to protect your health to help the midwife protect her own during this time.
- Be able to gather birth supplies and provide a clean space in which to give birth
- Be prepared to pay a large down payment or the entire fee out of pocket. Sometimes using HSA or FSA funds is an option, but not always.
- Understand that you may still transfer to the hospital if necessary for your or baby’s health.
If you feel you adequately meet the criteria above and are ready to plan your switch to home birth, please browse the frequently asked questions below to help finalize your decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
This question is so popular that we dedicated an entire post to it!
The #1 way to locate a midwife is by word of mouth. Seek out other home birth families in your area. Talk to local doulas and childbirth educators. They often will be connected to other birth professionals in the area, including midwives. Look for places where holistic or naturally-minded people tend to frequent, such as health food stores, etc. If you live near an Amish or Mennonite community, they may have information to share. Finally, use online resources such as our post mentioned above.
The short answer is no, it is not illegal to have a home birth in Kentucky. There are no laws stating where a woman can or can not give birth.
The long answer is that there is some legal liability, but it rests with the midwife, not the family who wishes to birth at home. We’ve dedicated an entire post to this question because of how often it is asked, and the length of the answer. Click here to visit “Is Home Birth Legal in Kentucky?” to read up on our current situation surrounding the legality of home birth midwifery, and the current laws in place.
A home birth in Kentucky can range anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 depending on the midwife you choose, what area she is located in, and her experience. Most often, this fee is paid out of pocket. Typically, insurance companies will NOT cover a birth attended by a CPM, as they are not yet licensed in our state. We are hoping the licensing process will be finalized during the summer of 2020.
Some individuals have luck submitting a claim with their insurance company after the birth and receiving a partial reimbursement afterwards. Insurance may fully cover birth with a CNM, depending on if she is in-network.
*You may be able to use HSA/FSA funds to pay your midwife, but YOU SHOULD BE PREPARED TO PAY THE FULL FEE OUT OF POCKET.
A midwife’s fee includes all prenatal care, the birth, and postpartum/newborn care. the supplies for prenatal care, the birth and supplies needed for it, and postpartum/newborn care and supplies. It includes the time she is on call for you for 24/7 for weeks at time, the gas it takes to visit you, the charting and paperwork, the extremely detailed and personalized care for you as an individual and her expertise and knowledge. There may be other costs involved, such as birth supply kits or pool/pumps (for water births, if your midwife does not supply a pool). Outside tests and ultrasounds are NOT included in the initial fee.
DO NOT expect the midwife to charge only part of her fee just because you are coming into care late in your pregnancy.** A midwife’s fee is not just for the one day you give birth. It includes all prenatal, postpartum, and newborn care, including catching up on information if you transfer to her late. Some midwives may offer sliding scale payments based off your income. Ask your midwife if she offers payment plans.
This is one of our most common questions, so we’ve dedicated an entire post to it. Click here to read the post.
Prior to July 15, 2020, paperwork was processed through county health departments. Now, everything is processed directly through the Office of Vital Statistics in Frankfort. If you are working with a Certified Nurse Midwife or Licensed Certified Professional Midwife, they will be able to take care of most of this for you using the state’s online system.
The Kentucky Vital Statistic website with information for home birth is here: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/dehp/vsb/Pages/homebirths.aspx
By law, each live birth is to be registered within 5 days of the birth.
Please know that the choice to give birth at home should not be made out of fear. It is an option worth researching and you must be prepared to take full responsibility for your choices. A good understanding of the natural birth process and what can affect that process is essential. You must make the commitment to stay healthy, not only through diet and/or physical exercise, but also through social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak. At this time, your and your family’s health could affect your midwife’s health and her ability to care for other clients. Personal responsibility has always been a major factor in home births and it is even more so now. If you feel you can meet these requirements and are ready to inquire about midwives, please email us at email@example.com. Please note that there are large pockets of Kentucky that do not have access to midwives at this time and due to the increased interest in home birth, many midwives may not have openings in their schedules.