Home birth: Pregnant mom starts online petition for United Healthcare to cover costs
Westminster mom Wendy McKendrick left the hospital after giving birth to her first daughter feeling disempowered and unnecessarily medicated. "I felt like I was just a spectator to my own birth," she says.
McKendrick and family.
So when she found out she was pregnant with a second daughter, McKendrick decided she'd like to deliver at home with a midwife instead. But her insurance plan has thus far refused to cover the much-lower cost of home birth. Not willing to take no for an answer, McKendrick has started a petition on Change.org.
The petition asks her insurer, United Healthcare, to cover the cost of her home birth. Thus far, more than 2,000 people have signed it. McKendrick's goal is 5,000 signatures.
"I'd seen other petitions and signed other petitions and I hadn't ever thought about starting my own," McKendrick says. "I'm not usually very outspoken or outgoing. But this was something where I thought maybe I could make a difference."
McKendrick, 34, gave birth to her first child, Jasmine, on December 1, 2010. She chose to deliver in a hospital. "I thought everyone delivered in a hospital and everyone delivered with an [obstetrician]," she says. "I didn't know much about midwives at that point."
This photo accompanies the petition.
But the experience wasn't what she'd hoped. The hospital staff ended up breaking her water, which increased the amount of pain she was in; the way Jasmine was positioned in the womb was causing so-called "back labor," and breaking McKendrick's water made it harder for Jasmine to re-position herself. The pain was most manageable when McKendrick was kneeling on her hands and knees, but the hospital forced her to lie in a bed so she could receive an IV and be hooked up to a fetal heart monitor. The pain was so intense that McKendrick opted to get an epidural to ease it. "I was strapped to the bed, unable to move," she says. "I just felt really stuck. From there, I was on their timeline."
McKendrick's obstetrician was sick that day and her replacement was busy. The hospital staff used medications to stop McKendrick's labor until the substitute doctor was ready and then used more medications to start it again. After a few pushes, Jasmine was born, but McKendrick wasn't allowed to hold her right away; the staff said the baby had experienced some "distress" during labor -- which McKendrick credits to the medications.
"It wasn't what I wanted and it wasn't what I thought birth should be," she says.
Continue for more of McKendrick's story.