Before I had a baby, my experiences with the NHS were pretty much limited to the odd cervical smear.
(These smears were odd both sense that they were infrequent and that they were strange, because there is something inherently weird about the whole legs-spread-feet-in-stirrups-while-someone-pokes-at-your-cervix scenario.)
Then I got pregnant, and suddenly I was all up in the NHS’ business. As someone who comes from a country with one of the most messed-up healthcare systems in the developed world, the NHS kind of blew me away.
The NHS services that I used included:
- Regular antenatal appointments with my midwife
- Two sonograms
- Antenatal classes
- Two night stay in the hospital after experiencing false labour contractions at 34 weeks
- Ventouse birth in the hospital
- Overnight stay in the hospital following the birth
- Regular home visits from health visitors to monitor my health and the baby’s health after delivery
What it cost me: F*** ALL.
Of course, that’s not strictly true. I’ve been paying into the NHS for about a decade through my taxes, but that’s different than being handed a bill after you’ve just given birth, which is essentially what happens in America.
“I just pushed an actual HUMAN BEING out of my lady parts!” women must shout. “You should be paying ME!”
Sadly, it’s really expensive to have a baby over there. The average cost of giving birth in the US is $18,329 (for a vaginal delivery without insurance). Even with insurance, most women are left $3,500 out of pocket. When you’re doing something as monumental as bringing a new life into the world, the last thing you should be worrying about is paying for the privilege.
That’s why I’ll always be grateful that I had the Popple in my adopted homeland. I know the NHS isn’t perfect, but it’s nice to know that it’s available if you need it, like an old friend who you don’t see that often but would be there for you if you phoned them at 3am just because you needed to talk. The NHS is steady. Reliable. It doesn’t care how much money you make or what your background is. If you stumble into its arms, newly pregnant and nauseous and crying hormonal tears, it will hold you and say, “Don’t worry – we’ve got this.”