How Much Will Your Baby’s Birth Cost?

Birth costs more in the U.S. than anywhere in the world. Here's how it adds up.

by Lauren Steele
Originally Published: 
cost of birth

The expenses of having a child start adding up far before they get braces, or before they start taking piano lessons, or even before you buy them their first set of size ‘N’ diapers. The expenses of having a baby start before they’re even born — and before you’re in the delivery room.

RELATED: The Real Cost of Giving Birth in the U.S.

Currently, the cost of giving birth in the U.S. is higher than it’s ever been — and higher than it is anywhere else. According to data from the national, independent, nonprofit organization FAIR Health, the national average charge for a vaginal delivery is $12,290, and the national average charge for a C-section is $16,907 (without insurance). That’s 40 and 60 percent higher, respectively, than the next country — Switzerland. And because the cost of delivery depends on what state you live in, the national averages could mean next to nothing for you and your partner. In 2014, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that in California, the cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth could cost up to $37,227, depending on the hospital. The same research showed that Cesarean sections ranged from $8,312 to almost $71,000.

And that’s just on your baby’s birthday.

From medical tests during pregnancy to birth certificates, having a baby is even more expensive than you think. We gathered and tallied the averages of the most common costs new parents face before, during, and after the delivery so you can calculate just how much your birth will cost (before insurance kicks in).

Cost of Prenatal Care

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average total cost for prenatal care during pregnancy (without complications) is about $2,000. This figure includes 12 doctors’ visits, as well as necessary blood tests, urinalysis, and lab reports.

Total: $2,000

Cost of Ultrasounds

Cost information site Amino estimates the average national price of a transvaginal ultrasound to be $686. Consider that expecting mothers are likely to have between one and three ultrasounds before birth.

Total: up to $2,058

Cost of DNA Testing

After week 10, a baby’s blood can be screened for genetic conditions — a practice that is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to treat, prevent, and recognize health conditions in an unborn child. DNA testing used to only be performed for at-risk pregnancies, but that’s not the case anymore. The cost of testing is $2,000 on average, and because some insurance companies consider these tests as “investigational,” they may not be covered.

Total: $2,000

Cost of Gestational Diabetes Screening

Mothers-to-be who have no family history or pre-pregnancy issues with diabetes can still develop gestational diabetes—which is why this blood test is typically done between week 24 to 28. According to Healthcare Bluebook, it will run you about $100 if it’s not covered by your policy or if you haven’t met your deductible yet.

Total: $100

Cost of Amniocentesis

An amniocentesis is the analysis of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby in the womb. This test detects genetic conditions such as Down syndrome and only covered by insurance when deemed “medically necessary.”

Total: (if not covered by insurance) $7,000

Cost of Birthing Class

Birthing classes could be the single most important step of prep to bringing your child into the world (and getting yourself to the hospital on time). Though birthing classes are often covered by insurance, that’s not always the case — and they can cost up to $200.

Total: $200

Cost of Baby Gear

A package of newborn diapers. A car seat. A bottle. A blanket. A onesie. All of the little things you need just to leave the hospital add up.

Total: $300

Hospital Costs

This is where the charges become many and mighty. Each doctor that attends you will charge you separately, and your final bill will be line-itemed with each pill, pouch in your IV, shot, epidural, and snack your partner had after she was admitted. This is where state averages come in — and even that won’t give a solid grasp on what your final hospital bill might be. Check the averages in your state here to see what you might be in for, depending on whether you have a natural birth or a C-section.

Total: national average for natural vaginal birth $12,290

Grand Total: $25,948

Of course, most births are insured. For help navigating the world of birth and insurance, verse yourself in how policies work and what they are required to cover here. In some states, insurance plans are required to cover pregnancies and births.

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