The cost of having a baby in the United States depends on a host of factors: where you live, which hospital you choose, whether you use in-network doctors, your health insurance situation, and whether you or the baby have any medical complications. For this reason, there's no one answer to the question, "What's the cost of a baby?"
The cost of a baby in the United States
Unfortunately, the US is the most expensive country in the world in which to have a baby,1 though it varies state to state. Alabama is the cheapest place U.S. state to deliver your child: the amount parents have to pay for a vaginal birth with insurance is just under $4,884, on average. On the other end of the spectrum is Alaska, where for a vaginal birth with insurance parents pay an average of $10,681.2 If you have insurance, how much you will be required to pay depends on the specifics of your insurance plan, including copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums.3
In general, vaginal births are less expensive than Cesarean sections, but complications with vaginal births or C-sections drive prices up. Potential complications include excessive bleeding, blood pressure problems, or issues with the baby's position or cord placement.4 Premature births are one of the most costly complications, with prices potentially soaring to hundreds of thousands of dollars.5
Consider all the costs
It's not just the cost of labor and delivery to consider, of course. Both pregnancy and the postpartum months can bring a variety of bills. Here's a partial list of expenditures new moms may face:
- Pregnancy— Visits to the obstetrician or midwife, diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds, lab tests, medications
- Labor and delivery— Physician, nursing, and anesthesiologist services, epidural, C-section, hospital stay
- Postpartum care for mom— Doctor checkups, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding supplies, baby supplies such as a diaper bag
- Care for infant— Well-child checkups, medicine, changing station and other furniture including crib or bassinet, car seat, stroller, clothes, diapers and other toiletries
Don't forget related expenses such as child care, life insurance, health insurance, and saving for college. Also, consider whether you or your partner will leave your job to stay home with the baby, which will lower your income.
How to create a baby budget
Although it's difficult to project how much it will cost to have a baby, you should still put together a baby budget. The first step is to track your expenses over several months so you know how much you're spending before the baby comes. Focus both on necessities such as housing, food, utilities, and medical bills and on discretionary costs, like entertainment, gym memberships, and vacations. Next, analyze which expenses you can cut if baby expenses get too high. Finally, think about ways to save money. Look into buying secondhand, ask for hand-me-downs, or request essentials for your baby shower.
As for the medical costs themselves, perhaps the most important step is to call your insurance provider and ask for details on childbirth-related costs. In most cases, you won't need to pay more than your out-of-pocket maximum per year6 — so if you know that figure, it will be far easier to plan ahead. One warning, though: Any out-of-network hospitals or doctors will likely not be covered by your insurance, even if you've reached your maximum for the year.7
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1 Jessica Glenza, Jan. 16, 2018, "Why Does It Cost $32,093 Just to Give Birth in America?" The Guardian, Why does it cost $32,093 just to give birth in America? | US news | The Guardian
2 Hillary Hoffower, July 9, 2018, "How Much It Costs to Have a Baby in Every State, Whether You Have Health Insurance or Don't," Business Insider, How much it costs to have a baby in the US - Business Insider
3 Lacie Glover, Feb. 27, 2017, "How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby?" NerdWallet, How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby? - NerdWallet
4 Lacie Glover, Feb. 27, 2017, "How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby?" NerdWallet, How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby? - NerdWallet
5 Jessica Glenza, Jan. 16, 2018, "Why Does It Cost $32,093 Just to Give Birth in America?" The Guardian, Why does it cost $32,093 just to give birth in America? | US news | The Guardian
6 Lacie Glover, Feb. 27, 2017, "How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby?" NerdWallet, How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby? - NerdWallet
7 Lacie Glover, Feb. 27, 2017, "How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby?" NerdWallet, How Much Does It Cost to Have a Baby? - NerdWallet