Some of you might be thinking, “Birth Boot Camp sounds great, but $295! Is it worth it?”
I believe it absolutely is worth every penny, but I teach the class so you might figure my opinion is biased (you would probably be right.) So, I am compiling some evidence so you can objectively decide for yourself if Birth Boot Camp is the right childbirth class for you.
First of all, consider what you get with your tuition. Your $295 class fee includes over 20 hours of face to face class time from an instructor who has completed a quite rigorous list of requirements, which includes having a natural birth AND breastfeeding one child for at least one year. This ensures that your instructor has BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. Who wants to listen to someone teach how to birth who hasn’t actually done it? Would you take a driver’s ed course from someone who has never driven a car? I should hope not. If you do, you should expect results that reflect it. So point #1 – experienced instructors. (A friend of mine just wrote an entire blog post on this topic, which you can visit here). On top of that, you receive a full color 150+ page student workbook to keep, JAM PACKED with articles, information, illustrations, photographs, and more to supplement class topics. Books on pregnancy and birth that aren’t nearly as good as this workbook will run you $15-20 each. This is worth much more than that. You also get Breastfeeding: The Ultimate MRE, a breastfeeding class on DVD taught by lactation consultant and Birth Boot Camp Board Member and Instructor Mellanie Shephard. A very reasonably priced breastfeeding class in my area recently advertised for $50, and having a lactation consultant conduct a home visit will run $75-150, according to Kellymom.com. This DVD is like having a lactation consultant available 24/7, and if you do end up needing some one on one help, your Birth Boot Camp Instructor is ready with local resources.
Now, consider the cost you will save on the interventions that you won’t be needing if you are well prepared and achieve a natural birth. Imagine, no charges for such things as: IVs, epidural anesthesia (both the medicine itself AND the anesthesiologist), instrument delivery, episiotomy, fetal monitoring, breaking of waters, or cesarean delivery. While it is difficult, due to lack of insurance transparency, to find average costs, for these interventions individually, I did find this.
U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUPnet, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Rockville, MD: AHRQ. Available at: http://hcupnet.ahrq.gov/
American Association of Birth Centers. Uniform Data Set. Perkiomenville, PA: AABC, 2010.
Notice the cost of a birth center vaginal birth in 2010: $2,277. If the birth is at a birth center, you can be relatively sure that there was little to no interventions, such as those listed above. Now, notice the cost of a hospital vaginal birth with ‘no complications’ (this does not specify what is defined as a complication): $10,166 in 2010. That number is nearly 4.5 times more expensive than its birth center counterpart. Add ‘complications’ but still achieve a natural hospital birth for an additional $3,004. End up with a cesarean, even without ‘complications’, and the total skyrockets to $17,052. Cesareans with complications averaged $23,111. That is 10 TIMES more expensive than the birth center vaginal birth. You can clearly see how the cascade of interventions used can impact the cost of giving birth. These numbers should alarm you. You should also understand why some hospitals might be more inclined to prefer surgical birth – it means more money. These numbers are United States nationwide averages, and if you click on the link above you can actually find state by state data as well. If these are averages, that means some states costs are lower and others (gulp!) are even higher.
Depending on your insurance, you may only be responsible for part of this fee, but if you pay a percentage, the higher the cost means the more you pay.
Also, keep in mind that these statistics do not include costs associated with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the newborn, which can be very expensive as well.
Part of Birth Boot Camp’s mission is to provide instruction and support for breastfeeding as well. I mentioned above the cost of meeting privately with a lactation consultant, but I have yet to mention the cost of formula feeding for comparison. If new moms do not get a strong start breastfeeding and do not have proper support, they often turn to formula. Using even less expensive formula, the cost for a year will average $1100, with more expensive formulas running closer to $2,000 for a year supply. This is JUST the formula cost, not including the bottles, liners, etc., that may be needed.
If you consider the increased cost of birth with interventions and costs associated with not breastfeeding, the $295 class fee is nominal in comparison. Attending a Birth Boot Camp series will empower you to take charge of your birth experience, and you will be able to make INFORMED choices about your care.
I hope to see you in class!
Birth Boot Camp Instructor
Additional information on charges for vaginal vs cesarean birth: