For the most part, getting married and having a family is one of the many milestones we peg in our lives.
And I’m sure many of you have heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” well, how about “it takes a boatload of money to raise one?”
Did you know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost for a middle-income married couple to raise a child is $267,000 over 18 years? Keep in mind this does not include the cost of attending college.
Childbirth is the most common reason for hospital inpatient admissions in the U.S., and a cesarean section (or C-section) is the most routine operating room procedure in an inpatient hospital stay.
According to data from a recent Health Care Cost Institute Report (HCCI), the cost will mainly depend on the state in which you are giving birth. California, Oregon, and New York were listed as the most expensive state to give birth. Childbirth can range from $8,000 in Arkansas to $20,000 in New York.
For expectant mothers with employer-based health insurance, the combination of labor, delivery, and newborn care makes up nearly one in six dollars spent on inpatient care. Childbirth accounts for an estimated four out of five dollars spent on material-newborn health care.
According to the American Journal of Managed Care, the national average for a hospital bill for childbirth admission for a woman with employer-sponsored insurance was $13,811. Most were covered by insurance, but the out-of-pocket expenses from low to high ranged from $1000 in Washington, D.C., to about $2500 in South Carolina. Most insurance plans require you to pay a deductible — and let’s not forget there are doctor visits, prenatal care, vitamins, and other special maternal needs.
If you are planning a pregnancy or are currently pregnant, the Fair Health Medical Cost Lookup Tool can show you the average price for both a vaginal and c-section delivery.
If there are complications, such as premature birth, failure to progress, fetal distress, shoulder dystocia, etc., expect an increase in cost.
Cost to Have a Baby if You’re Uninsured or on Medicaid
According to The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States, a report commissioned by Childbirth Connection, the Catalyst for Payment Reform, and the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform: for births covered by Medicaid, Medicaid paid nearly all costs for both vaginal (99%, or about $9,002) and cesarean (98%, or about $13,327) deliveries. The same report says the price is far higher if you’re uninsured. The Truven Report put the uninsured cost of having a baby from $30,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth to $50,000 for a C-section.
A 2014 study by the University of California, San Francisco found that hospital charges for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery for the uninsured range from $3,296 to $37,227, depending on the hospital. For a C-section, costs ranged from $8,312 to nearly $71,000.
See what the cost of delivery without health insurance might be in your zip code at FairhealthConsumer.org.
If you are uninsured, you have some options:
- If you are pregnant and need health insurance, a special enrollment period is available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that allows you to get insured with extra subsidies. Some of these subsidies can offset some or all of the monthly premiums if you’re not eligible under your employer insurance plan.
- Visit your local health department. Many of these places provide maternity care. If you do not qualify, they can provide you with an abundance of local information on obtaining extra help.
- Check out your community health center. They provide affordable general care to people with limited access to health care.
- Visit a Planned Parenthood. Not all Planned Parenthoods provide prenatal services on a sliding scale fee structure, but they will be able to point you in the right direction.
- Sign up for Medicaid. This government, health care program is provided to low-income people for application all year-round. The maternity insurance can be retroactive if you qualify. Your baby will also be covered when it is born.
- Visit a Hill-Burton Facility. One hundred thirty-one hospitals and health clinics obtain grants or loans from the Hill-Burton Act and are obligated to provide free or low-cost care. You will need to meet the low-income requirements, but you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen. It covers the hospital bill but not the health care provider’s charges. It’s more a type of charity care than insurance.
Costs for Prenatal Care
Pregnant women will pay plenty of money before setting foot in a delivery room. Copays and out-of-pocket deductibles for obstetrician visits, ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins, and other maternity care can add up.
During your first and second trimester, you’ll have monthly check-ups. These will typically involve your copay unless you’re on a high deductible health care plan, and then you’ll pay the total amount until your deductible is met.
Routine Lab Work
Expect to pay between $50 to $200 for routine blood work throughout pregnancy, depending on your insurance. If the pregnancy is considered high risk and for genetic or chromosome conditions, tests can run over $1000.
Ultrasounds or sonograms typically occur between weeks 16 and 20 of pregnancy. An ultrasound is a painless procedure that uses sound waves to show a grainy image of your baby in your uterus. The sonogram checks the health and development of the fetus. Depending on your age or health, doctors perform earlier ultrasounds to determine the viability of the pregnancy. Expect to pay about $309 on average, according to Healthcare Bluebook. Some insurance companies will foot the whole bill; others spend a maximum of 60% of the cost.
Cell-Free Fetal DNA Testing
This blood test is performed to determine if the fetus has a chromosomal anomaly. Insurance plans are not required to cover this test, so check your plan to see if it’s covered.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
Prices range from $1,300 and $4,800. Most insurance plans cover it, particularly for women over 35, but you’ll need to check with your insurer. This placenta test can detect chromosomal anomalies and genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease and sickle cell anemia.
The cost of glucose screening runs between $25 and $50. Glucose screening tests for gestational diabetes that develops during pregnancy and is usually covered, but, once again, you’ll need to check with your plan.
Amniocentesis starts at around $1,500 and can go as high as $5,000. An amniocentesis is usually covered, especially for women over 35. Amniocentesis removes a small amount of amniotic fluid from the uterus. It’s similar to chorionic villus sampling to identify if the fetus has a chromosomal issue or genetic disease.
And, of course, all of this increases if there are complications like premature birth.
Other Costs to Have a Baby
Once the baby is born, you will be incurring a lot of extra expenses, from diapers, formula, clothes, furniture, post-baby doctor visits and the list goes on. You will want to create a budget to have a spending plan that ensures you always have enough money for food, housing, bills, and the proper care of your new baby.
Adding a new baby means your health insurance premiums will increase. A newborn is covered for the first 30 days through the mother’s health insurance plan. After that, it’s your responsibility to add the child to a policy. You will have 60 days from the date of birth to get this done. It’s considered a qualifying life event, so your employer will be able to revise your plan.
You’re going to need lots of it. Put together a baby shower registry so friends and family can help complete your long list of necessities before the infant’s arrival.
The crib is where your child will sleep and is the safest place to sleep. It helps promote independent sleep, keeps the baby safe, and provides your child with comfort and security when you aren’t there.
Infant Car Seat
Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death and injury for children. The best way to protect your children when they are in a car is by using a car seat.
The stroller is for your benefit. As the baby grows bigger, they will also get heavier. Carrying your baby around all day will give you an aching back and weary arms. The stroller will provide convenience alleviate the tired arms and achy back, and provide your baby a great place to nap and rest on the go.
Newborns don’t require an extensive wardrobe. Just as long as they are comfortable, you have enough clothes, so you don’t have to do the laundry every day, and have some extra ones in case they soil themselves. Lose the shoes. They do not need any shoes until they start to walk.
Check out your nearest thrift stores for gently used baby clothing. They grow so quickly that there’s typically not even enough time to have worn-out their clothes so, snap up that bargain.
Western babies are in diapers until the average age of 3 years old. They need consistent diaper changes because they risk infection, diaper rash, and other significant health problems. Babies need about 8-12 diapers a day, and you will be going through approximately 2,200 diapers the first year alone.
You will need this for all those diapers, baby wipes, and other necessities. It’s a great place to store everything you need for the baby all in one place when you’re out and about.
A baby bathtub can help you bathe your infant safely by preventing slippage from your baby. Most babies love water, and it is one of the most intimate, fun times to bond with your infant.
The baby changing table is an elevated table that makes it easier to change diapers. It is on your level and typically provides storage for diapers, wipes, and other necessities.
Childproofing supplies will range from electrical outlets with child-safe covers, indoor/ outdoor areas and furniture free from dangerous sharp edges and corners, childproof window guards, and protective material around radiators or hot pipes. This supply list is by no means complete, but it would be wise to scrutinize each room for potential hazards to keep your baby safe.
Feeding Your Newborn
As your baby gets older, it will need baby food. Infant formula will run you an average of about $100 a month, and at $25 a can, it lasts approximately a week. Some families stretch their dollars further by making their baby food from scratch.
Making your baby food is simple and reduces the risk of future fussy eaters. It is much more nutritious since it is not ultrapasteurized like commercial baby food, which is heated to extreme temperatures to kill bacteria and nutrients. The best part is that you can control ingredients’ quality when you make your food. And buy seasonal items when it’s at their cheapest and peak of freshness.
Breastfeeding: You’ll need to buy a breast pump—the least expensive of these costs about $60. Price shouldn’t be the essential thing to consider. Consider your pumping needs and lifestyle, comfort, portability, suction strength and what your insurance will cover.
Time Off Work
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) mandates that U.S. employers give 12 weeks of unpaid leave. There is no mandatory paid family leave. Some workers can choose, or employers may require that they substitute accrued paid sick leave, vacation, or personal time for FMLA. The substitutions mean that the holiday leave will run concurrently with the unpaid FMLA leave.
You can cover some of the income loss, but that won’t cover all of it. You’ll need to do some financial planning to cover your lost income.
Child Care Costs
If you’re going back to work, you’ll need to factor in daycare costs.
According to care.com, the average child care cost for one child in 2020 was $612 per week for a nanny, $340 per week for a child care or daycare center, and $300 a week for a family care center.
Quicken recommends that families spend no more than 10% of their income on child care. The care.com study found that 85% of parents said they were spending more than that.
If lucky, new parents might be able to save some money by getting child care help from close friends and family members.
There are also some low-cost options available:
- Babysitting cooperatives
- Babysitting Exchanges
- Shared Babysitting
- In-Home Daycare
- Nonprofit Centers
- School Sponsored Childcare
First-Year Medical Expenses
According to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, new parents can expect to pay about $1,300 in out-of-pocket costs during their babies’ first year. Additional expenses include but are not limited to copays for pediatrician check-ups, vaccines, medication, and extra doctor visits.
New moms will continue to have some medical expenses as well. According to healthcostinstitute.org, a full year of postpartum spending averages just above $3,100.
Postpartum office visits will require:
- Monitor blood pressure and weight
- Perform a breast examination and will ask about nipple soreness and breastfeeding
- Perform an abdominal and pelvic exam
- If you had a C-section, the doctor would check your incision
- Check for hemorrhoids and varicose veins
- Assess your emotional state and sleeping habits, checking for signs of postpartum depression. If you show symptoms of depression, you could incur additional costs.
- If you were anemic or lost a large amount of blood during pregnancy, the doctor might perform a routine blood test.
Other Additional Costs
Having a new baby means considering buying additional life insurance, preparing or amending a will, higher food bills with an extra mouth to feed, higher utility bills because you’ll be spending more time at home. They will require toys to keep them busy, and some parents may even require an upgrade to a larger living space. Not to mention that it’s never too early to start saving for college.
If you’re unable to conceive, there can be the added cost of expensive fertility treatments that sometimes take several rounds.
Want to know more about the true cost of having a baby? Check out this video:
Preparing Financially to Have a Baby
- Use this calculator to figure out how much money you’ll need
- Research your insurance coverage.
- Take advantage of any health savings or flexible spending account options you have available.
- Price local hospitals and make sure any facility you choose is in-network.
- Start a savings account for baby costs.
- Cut back on nonessential spending.
- Tackle any debt you have.
How Can I Save Money on Baby Supplies?
- Make your organic baby food at home. It will save you 48% on your baby’s food bill.
- Purchase a breast pump and breastfeeding as long as possible will save on buying formula. Call your insurance to see if they’ll help cover the cost of a breast pump. If your insurance doesn’t cover your breast pump, check the manufacturer’s website. They offer help and instructions on what to say to your insurance to help you get what you want.
- Ask your pediatrician for samples, or when you leave the hospital, stock up on as much formula as the nurses are willing to give you.
- Be smart about buying diapers, and you’re going to need about 2,200 diapers in the first year. Other tricks from new moms: Don’t be brand loyal; check three places before buying, buy online, check the brand’s site for coupons, do a price per unit comparison, and join a loyalty rewards program. Some of the biggest baby brands have these popular rewards programs.
- Call your human resources department and take advantage of any employer-provided Dependent Child Flexible Savings Accounts.
- Don’t buy new baby clothes. Join Facebook groups where moms clean out their closets and are willing to part with baby items on the cheap. Look up nonprofits that form a network of “gifting” groups to divert reusable goods from landfills. A good one is called Towns and used to be called Freecycle.
- Don’t buy baby clothes far in advance. Newborns can have growth spurts, and a winter coat you purchased in September may not fit them when the cold weather arrives. Buy secondhand special occasion clothes. Chances are the clothing was only worn once or twice.
- Get cash on items you received for the baby shower that you don’t need or are duplicates. You can use this extra cash to set aside for future baby expenses.
- Consider borrowing items that you would be using for just a few months.
The Bottom Line
Having a baby is an exciting time and also a financially impactful one. It is easy to get caught up in the emotion and excitement of having a new addition to the family, but it is even more important to be financially prepared.
You should have a money talk with your partner, create a new budget, build an emergency fund, check your life and medical insurance plans, make a plan for your debt, and assess your retirement and other financial goals.
Child-rearing costs decline with each additional child. For example, according to the USDA, married-couple families with one child pay 27% more in expenses per child than a two-child family. Families with three or more children will pay about 24% less per child than a two-child family. This is usually because many infant items (cribs, playpens, clothes, etc.) can be reused, so you aren’t starting from scratch.
The FMLA is a labor law requiring covered employers to provide employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.
An employee can use FMLA leave during pregnancy or after birth. A mother can use 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth of a child, prenatal care and incapacity related to pregnancy, and her serious health condition following the birth of a child. A father can use FMLA leave for child care for his spouse who is incapacitated due to pregnancy or childbirth.
When an employee is not working, they may collect unemployment benefits in many situations. Those benefits are reserved for those who are unemployed. Employees on leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are not considered unemployed. In short, you cannot file for unemployment while on family medical leave.