The United States is the most expensive place in the world to have a baby. Researchers estimate that the average cost is between $9,775 to $15,041 to give birth in the United States. This is one of many reasons why one Reddit user’s recent post has gained so much attention from the internet.
The internet erupted with debate when Reddit User Ryan Grassley posted an itemized bill for his wife’s Caesarean that included a charge of $39.35 for immediate skin to skin, a common request and encouraged practice.
On September 5, 2016 the son of Lidia and Ryan Grassley came into the world via Caesarean section, as many children do. The infant was born was at Utah Valley Hospital. When the $13,000 hospital bill came in, Grassley was astonished to find a charge of $39.35 for “skin to skin after c-section.”
“Skin to skin” is a practice where a child is held bare skinned against his or her parent. Skin to skin immediately after birth is believed to reduce the incidences of postpartum depression or anxiety. Skin to skin can also strengthen the relationship between parent and child, increase breast milk production, and is an immediate comfort to a terrified new baby whose world just rapidly changed. It’s a common request in birth plans, no matter how a child comes into this world.
When Ryan Grassley received the bill, he posted the itemized charges on Reddit with the caption “I had to pay 39.35 to hold my baby” Grassley was amused at the charge and thought it was worth sharing.
He explained on the post that he held his baby against his wife while she was still strapped in for surgery. A nurse stood close by during the skin to skin moments and even took Grassley’s phone to snap pictures for them. The photo of the charge has ignited a heated debate online. Many concerned with the fact that every little thing costs money when it comes to healthcare in the United States, including something as simple as holding your baby. Others outraged at the price people pay for healthcare.
Still, there were comments that defended the charge because it was documentation that was likely needed for insurance purposes. People also defended the charge because it was necessary to have a nurse present.
Grassley later wrote:
“To be clear I wasn’t complaining or trying to send people on a witch hunt for the hospital. We had a very positive experience during the birth of our son, and the hospital and staff were great throughout the entire process. I posted the bill to Reddit because I thought it was funny. It has been interesting to see the shock from people around the world at the cost of medical expenses in the USA.”
What does the hospital say?
The hospital has defended the bill, stating that the nurse was there to oversee the bonding experience in the Operating Room(OR). There are many safety measures that are compromised when a mother wishes for Skin to Skin in the OR. In fact, many hospitals don’t allow immediate skin to skin after a Caesarean at all, due to the risks it can pose to a mother or her newborn child.
A representative of the hospital told the Huffington post that the hospital is an advocate of skin to skin after birth and the charge was not simply to hold the baby. It was the price of having an additional caregiver who could “maintain the highest levels of patient safety.”
Ryan and Lydia were in such good spirits about the charge, they started a GoFundMe to raise the $39 as a joke. They reached their goal fairly quickly.