The price tag on childbirth

Camila Martinez Rivera, Photo Team

Growing up, something I looked forward to was becoming a mom — that is until I found out how much it would cost me. The average cost of giving birth in the U.S. is between $5,000 and $11,000. Giving birth is known for being one of the most painful things a human can go through, yet hospitals do not seem to have a problem putting a price tag on that pain. There are so many different things that can happen in labor that can affect your bill, so let’s talk about it. Where is the money going and is there a way to bring the cost down?

Where is your money going?

Scrolling through TikTok, I found new moms explaining their bill and the breakdown of what everything cost. Some of the most common charges included the labor room, Ibuprofen, Oxycodone, blood work, IV therapy, resuscitation, radiology, vaccines, lactation consultations and operating room services.

One of the most surprising charges I found on their bills was opting for skin-on-skin contact. I find it odd that parents must pay extra to hold their baby after being delivered. Although it is an odd charge, there is logic behind it. They have to have an extra nurse in the room to help the new parents with the baby. This is especially important when delivering through C-section because the patient is most likely under anesthesia or other drugs and may not hold the baby correctly.

Additional charges can stem from complications that may arise when having multiple children, a premature baby and/or needing a C-section. There are many risks when it comes to having multiple children, for there is a greater possibility that they will be born prematurely. Premature babies usually need to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to get the help they need, but this can be costly. The average cost for a baby to stay in the NICU per day is $3,000. As a triplet myself, my brothers and I were born three months early, causing us to stay in NICU for 47 days. That means if it weren’t for the fact that we had insurance that covered it, my parents would have had to pay $141,000 per child just to stay in the NICU. Also, having a C-section instead of the traditional vaginal delivery can be up to $9,000 more and is usually required when having multiple children. 

Is there a way to bring the cost down?

One of the most common ways to reduce the cost is insurance, but what if you don’t have it? Universal healthcare doesn’t seem to be on the United States’ to-do list, so are you stuck paying the hospital bills until your child is in high school? No, there are a few things you can do to bring down the cost, such as setting up a payment plan with your hospital or negotiating payments upfront to get a discount for paying in full.

Another option to help pay for hospital bills is through donations. There are many organizations that help dedicate themselves to paying medical bills, such as HealthWell Foundation, PAN Foundation, Rx Hope and many more. A more direct way of getting donations is through GoFundMe, where you can share your story and receive donations to help pay for your bills. Many patients use GoFundMe for their medical expenses as it is the only place they can turn to for help paying their bills, ones that they would otherwise not be able to afford. 

What do I think?

I believe there needs to be more readily available resources to prepare and support parents for the financial implications that come with having a child. Parents should not have to be surprised by the cost when they get the bill in the mail. It is unreasonable for new parents to have to pay so much for such an important, life-changing and very painful experience.