What is Child Birth Really Going To Cost You Out of Pocket?


Kids are small, but they’re really expensive. You might as well just buy a brand new Escalade every year for the rest of your life and it’s cheaper. All right, not really, but it feels like it might be. Between diapers, wipes, formula, food, the cost of that babysitter you have to pay because grandma and grandpa suddenly decided they have a life and can’t watch the kids while you go to a wedding (I mean, come on mom and dad…a week in Hawaii or an evening with four kids under 7? Seems a bit selfish to me, to be honest.) and clothes, it’s a lot of money. And we haven’t even begun to cover what you’re going to pay to give birth. Let’s start here; I cannot tell you how much you will pay to give birth to your kids. I’ve got four of my own and the price differed every single time.

The cost of childbirth depends heavily on many things. For example, it depends on your insurance. It depends on the type of pregnancy you have. It depends on how many ultrasounds you need, whether or not you have medication in the hospital and how much of it you have, how long you are there, your doctor’s professional fees, how many babies you’re carrying, and about a million other things. So here’s the deal; unless you’re on government assistance, you’re going to pay anywhere from $1 to infinity to have that baby. And to be honest, it does make a mom a little bitter to hear that other moms are getting their babies free and clear – but that’s neither here nor there.

My husband and I, for example, have had the same insurance for a very long time with a very well-known insurance company. We have your typical 80/20 with a $35 co-pay and a low deductible. Of course, when Obamacare came into the plan, that all changed…but we won’t even go there. You’re welcome.

What I can do is give you an example of just how much it costs to have a baby based on a fairly average to good health insurance plan (I say average because everyone we know has very similar plans even though we are all in different industries). So here we go…

Baby Number One – $4700

Our first daughter was born in 2008. We paid our OB $2500 up front and that was all we paid until after she was born. We had a very simple pregnancy, one ultrasound at 20 weeks and I went into labor when I was 39 weeks ago. She was born very quickly and we were very Kate Middleton in our hospital stay – in and out (and in heels). I went into labor very early in the morning, arrived at the hospital a 7 cm dilated and completely effaced, shoved the epidural needle in my back and she was born at 6 am after a few pushes. We were on our way home the next morning by 11. I had some delicious Percocet (that sounds pretty addict-like, right?) and that was about it. No complications. A few stitches; a healthy baby and a healthy momma. When our bill arrived in the mail a few months later, we paid just over $2200 (we met our deductible, but we met it in 2007 when we paid the doctor for the first time so we had to meet it again in 2008).

Baby Number Two – $6075

When we became pregnant with baby number two 18 months later, we actually miscarried twice and had to pay some hospital bills after that. When I became pregnant for the third time that year with baby number two, our experience was a bit difference. We paid our OB the same $2500 fee, but we also paid a lot of other individual fees. I bled several times, and that resulted in ultrasounds at $125 a piece after insurance. I had 8 of those throughout the course of my pregnancy, but my insurance only covered one completely. My labor was a bit different in that I was induced at 39 weeks because of how quickly baby number one arrived. I was issued my pitocin at 11 am and baby was born before 1 pm. She was healthy, I was healthy and we were home 24 hours later. When we received our bill in the mail a few months after her birth, it was for a slightly higher $4500. When I called to pay the bill over the phone, I was told that paying in cash meant they’d happily reduce my bill by 40% (I said yes, because I’m not a moron). So we paid $2700.

The Twins – $18,740

By the time the twins were born last year, Obamacare had taken over and my private insurance through BCBS was no longer effective.  My husband’s insurance through his employer also changed, but he had the kids on his and I had me on a new plan through another major insurer. It was not a great plan, but it was a plan (not affordable, I might add). My rates tripled monthly, but my coverage dropped drastically and my deductible tripled with my rate. It’s actually ridiculous in a way that I cannot even go into out of sheer anger.

To get back to the point, I paid my OB $2400 up front this time around. I often wonder if we knew it was twins sooner if that would have been more, but we didn’t find out until 18 weeks. My insurance covered one ultrasound. When we went in at 18 weeks, we found out we were expecting twins. From that point on, we were scheduled for ultrasounds at every appointment. This time they cost us $260 a piece. I had 9 ultrasounds after that to monitor growth and for safety measures.

Again, birth was very easy, though I was required to give birth in the operating room this time around because we were having multiples. I went into labor at 36 weeks and 6 days, got to the hospital an hour after my contractions began and they were born four hours later. We wheeled into the OR, and 15 minutes later we were back in our room. I gave birth to two babies in less than five minutes in 3 pushes (I’m a rock star, I know).

The babies were small. Our baby A (daughter) was 3 lbs. 15 oz. Our baby B (son) was 5 lbs. even. They both had some respiratory issues and our daughter had an infection, which we think might have been a result of the killer flu I had the week I went into labor. She was in the hospital for 5 days in the NICU. Our son was in the hospital for two days in the NICU, but our neonatologist was a dream come true and kept him in there for ‘various’ reasons since we were allowed to keep our room as non-patients and stay with our daughter and we wanted them together so we could be with them. And we were – for 5 days we lived there nursing the babies every 3 hours all day long and spending as much time as we were allowed in the NICU nonstop.

The new neonatologist on call day 4 discharged our son. He would not keep him. Fortunately, our daughter came home the following day so it wasn’t the worst situation. When we received that bill in the mail, it was a big one. It was tens of thousands of dollars (over $50k) and it was more like $14,000 total for their stay and my stay after insurance. This time around, they did not offer a deal.

Other Personal Stories

We have other friends with very similar insurance who have the same stories for their babies. Of all the people we know, the general consensus is that with good insurance, the out-of-pocket cost is less than $5000 for a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery.

Some people pay nothing. A mother in my daughter’s class once told a group of us on a field trip that she paid nothing for her four kids – she has Medicaid and they paid everything. Another mom paid more than $40,000 out-of-pocket. Another mom I know had a C-Section and a complicated pregnancy and paid $1700 after her insurance.

So just how much will your baby cost you out-of-pocket? I honestly do not know, but it’s a safe assumption that it’s going to cost at least a few thousand dollars at the end of the day. Talk to your doctor. Talk to your insurance company. Ask.


I will say this; there are a few things you can do to see about lowering your cost. For one, ask the doctor for a discount if you pay upfront. Mine didn’t do that; mine actually required that you pay the entire fee upfront. But a friend’s OB offered her patients the opportunity to pay her fee monthly and gave a 10% discount to all patients paying in cash upfront.

The hospital might do the same if you ask. Additionally, you can cut your costs in a number of ways. Your doctor might tell you that you can forgo pain medication. You can skip the epidural. See if you can work out a deal with the hospital or doctor or even your insurance company.

Photo by Veejay Villafranca/Getty Images


Leave a Reply