This New Mom Was Charged To Hold Her Baby In The Operating Room

Update: Meaghan Grant, a doula of Toronto Family Doulas, took to Facebook to explain why the skin-to-skin charge this family incurred is actually quite reasonable. Her points echoed those of the delivery nurse who commented on the original post:

"During a caesarean, many people become shaky, nauseous, uncomfortable, even faint. These are normal physiological reactions. In order to facilitate skin-to-skin in the OR, an extra nurse needs to be available to assist. And before people scream that 'there's a nurse for the baby,' there is, but that nurse has other responsibilities in the OR. They aren't either holding the baby or twiddling their thumbs. So yes, an extra nurse is needed. I sit on an advisory committee for Sunnybrook [a Toronto hospital]. Nurses are the LARGEST budget item. They don't appear out of nowhere and they don't grow on hospital bulletin boards. Their time and their presence are valuable and should be valued."

She ended her post on positive note, reminding us that this story reflects a positive shift in how babies are delivered: "Let's talk instead that this hospital is doing skin to skin in the OR! That's amazing! We should be celebrating that!"

Indeed. Keep reading for our original story on the viral photo in question.

This article was originally published on October 4, 2016.

Hospital bills have long been a source of viral outrage, but usually for their staggeringly high total prices. In this case, just one relatively small charge is the source of the internet's outrage — and for a good reason.

Yesterday, a new father with the username halfthrottle posted a photo of the bill for his son's delivery, highlighting a $39.35 fee for "skin to skin after c-sec," to Reddit. "During the C-section the nurse asked my wife if she would like to do skin to skin after the baby was born. Which of course anyone would say yes to. We just noticed it in the bill today," he wrote in a comment on his original post.

Aside from the obvious desire to hold a newborn, research shows that skin-to-skin contact, which refers to having the newborn placed directly onto the mother's chest in the moments after birth, can be helpful for promoting breast-feeding initiation, bonding between mother and baby, and reduced newborn stress after a C-section.

So, Reddit being Reddit, the first few commenters urged the father to alert the media, decried the U.S. healthcare system, and asked if he could "get a refund." Then, a labor and delivery nurse chimed in on the thread to offer an explanation for the charge.

"Doing 'skin to skin' in the operating room requires an additional staff member to be present just to watch the baby. We used to take all babies to the nursery once the NICU team made sure everything was okay," she wrote. "'Skin to skin' in the [operating room] is a relatively new thing and requires a second Labor and Delivery RN to come in to the [operating room] and make sure the baby is safe."

So, as annoying as that $39.35 may seem, that's apparently what it costs to make sure the mother and baby have a chance to bond quickly and safely. The delivery nurse added: "The Mom is still being closed up after the delivery. She is anesthetized from the chest down, and may feel faint, or nauseated. Someone needs to be there to make sure that the baby doesn't slide off of her chest onto the floor, and to pick up the baby if she starts feeling unwell."

Still, the problem remains that the charge came as a complete surprise. This visual speaks more to the fact that it is basically impossible to plan for the cost of giving birth. As far as unexpected hospital fees go, less than $40 doesn't seem that bad, but it still reflects a need for greater transparency between health care providers and their patients. Luckily, the family doesn't seem to bear any grudge against the hospital. The father added in another comment that he and his wife have actually been laughing about the charge.
Check out the original post below and read through the entire comments thread here.
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