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How much does it cost to have a baby?

The initial costs associated with the birth of your little one will be pretty significant.
The initial costs associated with the birth of your little one will be pretty significant.

Having kids is expensive. And since you've probably already purchased things like a changing table, a crib, clothing and those first few batches of diapers, you know what we mean. But the good news is, you can budget for much of these initial cost if you plan properly. If you're lucky, you might even receive many of these necessary items as gifts from family and friends.

The bad news is that many of the primary expenses that come with having a child (e.g., hospital care) are pretty major, especially if you're uninsured and don't qualify for Medicaid.

So let's assume you're choosing a standard hospital birth as opposed to anything out of the ordinary, like hiring a dolphin to midwife a water birth (yes, that's a thing) [source: Locker]. If that's the case, the factor that will most influence how much the birth will cost is whether you'll be delivering via cesarean or vaginal birth.

Because cesareans tend to involve longer hospital stays, they're much more expensive; in 2010, the average total cost for maternity care for mother and baby, including pre- and postpartum care, was $51,125 for a cesarean birth and $32,093 for a vaginal birth [source: Truven].

Fortunately, a majority of the costs of childbirth are covered by private insurance or Medicaid, so make sure your insurance includes maternity coverage — especially because the longer you stay in the hospital, the more it will cost. Commercial insurance tends to cover most of the cost of having a baby, but in 2010, the average out-of-pocket expenses were about $1,686 and $1,948 for vaginal and cesarean births, respectively [source: Truven].

And although that might seem expensive, now might actually be better than later if you're thinking of having a child. Out-of-pocket payments for maternal care have nearly quadrupled in the past decade — in 2004, the average was only $463 for vaginal and $523 for cesarean births [source: Truven].

Those numbers are just median costs, though, and if you give birth in the United States, the price for your hospital stay will vary depending on where you live. For instance, in Louisiana, the allowed amount for maternal payments by commercial insurers was only $10,318 for vaginal births and $13,943 for cesareans. At the other end of the spectrum, Massachusetts averaged $16,888 for vaginal births for mothers with commercial health care providers, while Californians were charged an average $21,307 for cesareans [source: Truven].