The Expense of Giving Birth

What to Expect Financially When You’re Pregnant

by Andrea Moya– January 29, 2010


Having a baby is a life changing experience full of joy, love, family… and medical bills!  Naturally, when most expecting mothers confirm the good news, their budget planning efforts turn to the fun stuff and everything that they need to buy & prepare before the baby arrives.  But what about the expense of the pregnancy itself?

Many of us take for granted that the cost of receiving good prenatal care can actually become a huge financial strain on a new family.  And even if you have rock solid health insurance- deductibles, alternative birth plans, certain tests and unexpected complications, all mean that you could be paying a significant amount cash out of pocket- BEFORE your baby is even born.

After interviewing many new mothers and soon-to-be parents about what to expect financially when you’re expecting, I’ve realized that while the course of nature may be straightforward, the healthcare system and prenatal expenses are not..


If you don’t know what maternity benefits are covered by your healthcare plan-FIND OUT NOW!  If you don’t have insurance- GET IT IMMEDIATELY!

Health InsuranceAccording to every new mother, even if you choose to pay for an alternative birth plan not covered by insurance, you can never predict when medical complications may arise, and you must protect yourself and the health of your baby in case of an emergency.  If you do not have proper health insurance, your prenatal care, delivery, planned or emergency c-section, medications, and any other hospital bills for you or your baby could end up costing you over a hundred thousand dollars!

If you can’t afford a basic insurance plan, you may be eligible for Medicaid or a State Sponsored Program.

Understanding Your Coverage

For women who already have insurance, the first thing you need to do is find out what maternity benefits you have, what’s covered, what’s not, and what you’re responsible for paying out of pocket. Believe it or not, some plans actually consider maternity a premium option condition, and it costs extra! If you find that your plan offers less than great maternity coverage before you get pregnant, you can plan accordingly or switch insurance companies. However, once you are pregnant, your best bet is to stick with the insurance plan you have to avoid any other logistical hiccups.

Choosing Your Birth Plan

Once you’ve learned what your plan does cover, it is time to make some very personal choices about what kind of birth experience you are looking to have.  The majority of moms-to-be in the U.S. choose the care of a medical doctor (OB/GYN), and deliver their babies in a hospital.  However, many women looking for a more natural experience and who do not have underlying health concerns that would make their pregnancy high risk, choose to be cared for by a midwife.  Many midwives are now affiliated with hospitals that have birthing centers, and therefore are likely to covered by insurance.

Do keep in mind that all insurance plans vary, and even if you have decent coverage, you must budget to pay any deductibles, co-pays and other out of pocket expenses.  Depending on your health care plan and what needs or complications transpire during your pregnancy or the day of the birth, these expenses can range from several hundred dollars to several thousands.

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4 Responses to “The Expense of Giving Birth”

  1. Virginia says:

    After 8 years of having our first child, I still sleep with my body pillow. It is a must!


  2. Great article — something we often don’t consider when trying to cut costs.

    It’s amazing how much having a baby costs — and most of us who are lucky enough to have good health insurance don’t even realize the hefty pricetag.

    Re home births: some insurance companies DO cover them. I just called mine (Blue Cross in the NY area) and they do cover midwives as well as home births and birthing centers.

    I wish they covered doulas too. Anyone know an approximate cost for a doula to take care of you at during a standard birth?

    • Andrea says:

      Thank you for your kind words! It was really eye opening to learn the actual figures behind the co-pays and all the loopholes available to insurance companies to treat pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. As for your question about doulas, this article may be useful It seems prices vary from doula to doula and also depending on your area. The average number seem to range from $200 to $1000. Hope this help!

    • steph says:

      Hi Amy – I paid about $1400 for a doula to help me through labor and delivery (in a hospital) here in L.A. – Hope this helps!

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