Prep Your Wallet for Prenatal Care and Delivery

The physical aspect of baby-having is a tired conversation. Pregnancy and delivery experiences are unique to each mother, so it's tough to have all of your questions answered before it happens. The financial aspect of pregnancy, though, is pretty black and white. This discussion is not about the ridiculous amount of baby gear you'll be acquiring, but how much it costs to receive proper prenatal care and give birth in a hospital. In the United States, health care coverage varies from family to family, but the averages speak for themselves. From conception to postpartum recovery, you can expect to spend between $500 (with awesome insurance) and $37,000 (for uninsured). Wait, what?



Expecting moms will see their OB-GYN or midwife every four weeks for the first two trimesters, or up to week 28. Then you'll need to be seen every two weeks until week 36, and once a week until the baby is born. If you don't have insurance, the visits can cost an upwards of $2,000, costing between $100 to $200 per visit. Private insurance will cover between 80 and 95 percent of the costs on average while public forms of insurance will cover closer to 50 to 99 percent if you qualify.

During the visit, the practitioner will check your heart rate, blood pressure and most likely urine. Most mothers opt for the Doppler, which will allow you to hear the baby's heart beat. At this point, you can ask any questions you may have about physical changes, illness, birth and delivery and more. Below are are the routine tests and labs performed during prenatal care with the average out-of-pocket cost.

  • Urine Sample Test: Each visit will include a routine pee-in-a-cup event to check your blood sugar, look for UTI symptoms, proteins and anything pointing to diabetes. Cost: $28 to $125
  • Blood Draw: Checks your blood type, iron levels, immunity and infections to establish a baseline for your prenatal care. Cost: $1,500
  • 20-Week Anatomy Ultrasound: At the halfway point, you can receive an anatomy scan to check the details of your baby's growth as well as confirm the sex and due date. Cost: $100 to $500 in office
  • Glucose Test: Tests your tolerance to sugar intake, which will signal a "positive" or "negative" for gestational diabetes. Cost: $700 to $1,500
  • GBS Screening: A swab of the vagina and anal area will let your care provider know if you are "positive" for group B streptococcus, which is harmless to you, but can make the baby really sick at birth. Cost: $120
  • Other tests and ultrasounds may be performed throughout your pregnancy based on what your doctor or care provider thinks is best. For high-risk pregnancies, you can expect more blood draws and ultrasounds. For mothers nearing their due dates, they may have a non-stress test or biophysical profile costing between $120 and $330.

>> Read more: Childbirth 101: Make the Best Decisions for Your Childbirth


Get ready to have your mind blown. For vaginal births in a hospital without complications, the average out-of-pocket cost in 2010 was $10,657. Say you ran into complications. You could be looking at an average of $13,749. Caesareans without issue ($17,859) or with ($23,923) cost a great deal more. These costs don't even cover the care for your newborn, like a vitamin K shot and hearing test. Those are all extra. Any other maternal care like stitches or additional anesthesia will cost more, too. (via Childbirth Connection) Click here to start thinking about how you want this delivery to go down.


Newborn care and tests: Once your baby is born and ready to be poked and prodded by the medical staff, you can expect a number of things. The newborn tests will vary by state, but usually it includes a prick in their heels for blood work, a sensor to measure oxygen intake, hearing test, eye drops or "goop" (for protection), vitamin K shot, hepatitis B vaccine and the APGAR test (activity, pulse, grimace, appearance, respiration on scale 1-10; 10s are rarely given!).

These tests and vaccines are mostly optional, but they exist for a reason. A healthy baby is worth more than saving a few bucks!

Maternal care: Outside of anesthesia and IV fluids, mothers can expect stitches, pain medications, additional forms of anesthesia, lactation consulting, abdominal and vaginal checks among any other services needed. Mom and baby can expect to room on the recovery floor for 24 to 72 hours, depending on how things are going and what type of birth occurred. Babies or mothers with outstanding health concerns will be kept longer. Staying in the room will cost more than $1,000 per day each for the mom and baby.

>> Not ready for a baby? Pregnancy Prevention: Know Your Birth Control Options



A quick note on health insurance. If you do not receive health insurance through your employer or spouse's employer, you can sign up for independent insurance or health maintenance organizations. You can also apply to public insurance through Medicare, Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, among others. You can also see what's available to you through the Marketplace via Birth centers and midwives can drastically lower the costs and may be a suitable option for you.

>> Read more: Home Birth: Is It For You?