Here's How Much It Costs To Have A Baby In The US

The United States Census Bureau records the U.S. population at 334,233,854 people as of January 2023, an additional 1,571,393 more than on New Year's Day 2022. When people think about factoring children into their lives, they often consider the impact of newborns on things like sleep loss, schedule changes, and dirty diapers. If finances are thought of at all, it revolves more around the cost of raising a child to adulthood.

However, the cost of pregnancy and bringing a child to term has its own unique costs attached, and you can't avoid them if you want to give your unborn child a chance of a healthy birth. Healthcare debt is a lesser-known form of debt than credit cards or college tuition, but it's become more pervasive, particularly for uninsured, working-class families. About 41% of adult Americans are feeling the crushing effect of debt from medical bills.

Underinsured families face higher mortality rates, with Black and Hispanic mothers experiencing racial and economic barriers to care being at higher risk. Standard medical equipment for monitoring pregnancies, like sonograms, often isn't covered by insurance and can add an extra $200 to $650 per visit depending on where you live. As such, being prepared for the cost of having a baby has huge implications.

Fertility services

When a couple or individual struggles to get pregnant, visiting a fertility clinic may be an option they consider. Whether biological or related to the lack of a willing partner, the challenge of addressing infertility can weigh as heavy on your wallet as your heart. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a surgical procedure involving the removal of healthy eggs from an ovary that are then mixed with sperm collected in a petri dish and placed back into the ovaries in hopes of growing a baby. While 14 states offer some kind of insurance coverage for this process, even that can be limited in its scope.

For fertility treatments to have the best chance of success, they require specific medications that assist IVF and intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures, the latter involving the injection of semen directly into the uterus instead of mixing in a petri dish before insemination. The medications alone can set you back about $6,000, while the inclusion of IVF or IUI procedures can cost up to $10,000. The addition of a donor egg can bring that closer to $30,000, and insurance may or may not cover any of that depending on the state in which procedures happen.

Pregnancy and prenatal care

The coverage of expenses during pregnancy is further proof that having a baby can cost a pretty penny even before the child is born. The cost of pregnancy is cumulative, with everything from blood and fetal monitoring, transportation to and from visits, and the cost of an average dozen visits to your care provider added to your growing bill. Seeing an obstetrician averages $90 to $500 per visit and lab tests can run you as much as $100 per test.

Prenatal vitamins, baby accessories, and childbirth classes are costs to consider alongside the bill for regular checkups. If your insurer doesn't provide upfront coverage for any medical stuff, you will be on the hook for the deductible. If you don't have insurance, those expenses become yours. A few ways to manage expenses related to pregnancy if you are uninsured include shopping around for over-the-counter prenatal vitamins, and having a plan with your doctor about what you do and don't need to pay for before and during labor. If you can afford it, you can also purchase health insurance from the open marketplace. You may even be eligible for subsidies toward paying the premium if your household income is less than four times that of the national poverty line. Medicaid offers a solution if you live below a specific income determined by your state, that allows you Medicaid coverage with minimal out-of-pocket expenses.


How to get to the hospital when it's time to deliver is a very important factor to consider. Many without a partner or nearby relative, or who aren't car owners, or who otherwise don't have a traditional method of getting to the hospital may be stuck calling 911 if the time comes unexpectedly. Although the cost may differ in specific regions, The average hospital transport by ambulance is roughly $950 to $1,300. Even if your insurance covers the ride, and most do, your insurer may not offer full coverage, requiring you to pay some portion of that. If you go into labor when you're closer to a hospital outside of your insurance network or your healthcare provider, requesting a longer trip to that hospital will cost you more. The use of any equipment like needles, IVs, or meds can also raise the cost of your ride. If your transportation is a for-profit company, that could also hit you in the wallet. Of course, if you are uninsured, the whole bill is yours to cover out of pocket, and uninsured passengers are often billed higher than insured passengers. In this scenario, your best bet is to negotiate a lower charge and a payment arrangement. 

Vaginal births

Once you get to the hospital, a straightforward vaginal birth is the most cost-effective way to have a baby (of course, the option often isn't a choice). The Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker put the average total cost of a vaginal delivery at $14,768, while the average deductible sits around $2,854. Although the cost varies from state to state — Mississippi costing the lowest and California clocking in at the highest in 2020 — the U.S. is the most expensive country in the world to have a baby.

You can help to offset costs by doing research through your insurer and doctor about the unforeseen costs of childbirth, and what and how much is covered in your state before the day comes. Remember, you're paying for your OB/GYN, any other medical staff like nurses or anesthesiologists, medical equipment, and your hospital bed. Birthing centers are appropriate for low-risk deliveries and can provide a cheaper labor experience than a hospital. Ask about payment plans available by the hospital to help keep your expenses manageable with or without insurance coverage. Another option for low-risk pregnancies is home birth through a doula. The average cost of a home birth is $4,650, which is about three-and-a-half times less than the cost of giving birth in a hospital. 

Cesarian section

Ceasarean sections, or C-sections, are typically far more expensive than vaginal births since they tend to be associated with complications during delivery that require a higher level of care. The average cost of a C-Section is $26,280 with a $3,214 deductible, a running bill of about 50% more than the average vaginal birth. If you're insured, you can still expect to pay deductibles or copayments. As in the case of vaginal birth, being uninsured could cost you. If that's the case, you can reach out to your local state agency and explore options through the Children's Health Insurance (CHIP). CHIP is an insurance plan geared towards lower-income households that don't meet Medicaid's income threshold for support. While not offered in every state, there are a few states where the plan can be utilized by pregnant women to help cover the cost of childbirth.

Finally, you may want to get a second opinion. C-sections are performed at very high rates in the U.S., and the procedure has sometimes been found to be entirely unnecessary. It turns out that the rates for C-sections went down in Minnesota after insurance companies and Medicaid intentionally aligned the reimbursement rate for vaginal births and C-sections.


Complications during childbirth add an extra cost to delivery, often requiring additional care to keep the mother and baby safe. The most common complications include vaginal tearing, abnormal heartbeat for the baby, and excessive bleeding due to the uterus not getting out of the placenta's way during childbirth. Complications can double the cost of the average vaginal birth and add thousands more to C-section procedures. Babies born prematurely can multiply the cost of healthcare tenfold. In other words, the cost of complications during childbirth can be both life-changing and budget-draining. The best way to avoid this physical, emotional, and financial trauma is to listen to your doctor. Taking care of yourself or your partner during pregnancy by avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs is one way to minimize the chances of complications later. Expectant mothers with diabetes, obesity, or chronic pain tended to be among the one in nine births with complications in the U.S., with out-of-pocket childbirth costs that were $1,000 to $2,200 more expensive than deliveries without complications. 

Lost wages

In the United States, there is no federally mandated maternity leave, and just less than half of American women qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. Only three states — California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey — offer any form of guaranteed paid maternity leave whatsoever, making the U.S. one of only seven UN member states without paid maternity leave.

Whether you are a couple losing half its household income, or a single mother losing her earning power, you can't factor in the cost of having a baby in the U.S. without talking about lost wages. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, the cost of having a child takes the equivalent of $295,000, or 15% of earnings out of the pockets of working mothers, over their lifetime. This is due to a lack of affordable childcare that results in women taking more time off from their day jobs to do the necessary but unpaid work of child-rearing. The study goes on to assert that highly educated women in good-paying skilled professions actually lose more money than low-wage earners over their lifetime to the tune of $420,000, however, less educated women on the lower end of the earning spectrum who stand to lose $122,000 to $202,000 in wages feel this loss more deeply since it equates to anywhere from 19% to 26% of their lifetime earnings.