Two months ago something slightly interesting happened:

My wife gave birth to our healthy baby daughter.

The funny part was we were wholly unprepared for having our daughter on that particular day (but lets face it, estimates are estimates). On that Tuesday morning, we were at the doctor’s office for my wife’s weekly checkup (she was already estimated to due a week ago), when the doctor handed us the admittance order to the hospital.

“Yep. You’re 3-4cm dilated. You can head to the hospital now.”

“Uh, come again?”

And the only thing the both of us could think of at that time, as we head towards the hospital, was that we forgot to eat breakfast that morning. Luckily I’ve been traveling around with the overnight bag in the trunk of the car since forever, so I was able to munch on some much needed calories while the wife went on a liquid diet order immediately upon arrival at the hospital (sucks for her).

About 12 hours later, our baby daughter was born into the world. Like most baby, Zoey was pretty pissed about leaving her comfy home, but I suspect she’ll eventually come to terms with this arrangement.

A Pregnancy Can Cost You Financially if Unprepared

About 9-10 months ago when we found out, the first thought that popped into our mind was how much the pregnancy will cost us. If you don’t have insurance (or insurance with maternity coverage) prior to having a baby, things will get MIGHTY expensive. WebMD estimates prenatal care cost at around $2,000; with hospital cost anywhere around $6,000 to $15,000, depending on if you’re doing a vagina birth with no complication or a cesarean section.

We recently received our itemized explanation of benefits from Anthem Blue Cross and here’s the breakdown of the cost involved:

  • Anesthesia – $3,600. Insurance paid $1,292 as it was a network participating provider. One of those funky “discounts.”
  • OBGYN – $3,500. Insurance paid our doctor $1,306.27 for stopping by at 1:30 AM to annoy my daughter from her house.
  • Hospital Stay – $11,120.13. Insurance paid $4,863. This was for a three night stay in a private room, which was helpful for the first difficult 3 days.
  • Pediatrician evaluation – $250. We had to cover this out of pocket as we accidentally choose a pediatrician that wasn’t covered under our insurance plan.

Edit for Clarification: Insurance took care of most of the cost (expect for the pediatrician visit & genetics lab work as I noted). Basically insurance sends you these scary-looking “NOT A BILL” invoice which details the services you receive, how much the service providers bill to the insurance company and how much the insurance company actually paid the service providers. Sorry for any confusion.

Just to be comprehensive, here are the associated cost from prenatal care:

  • OBGYN – $700. Insurance paid the doctor $383.82. Billed $100, pay $10. The world of health insurance often escapes me. There was a good program from Marketplace called “The battle over billing codes” that’s worth a listen for those not aware of the myriad of craziness involved with our health insurance system.
  • Microbiology Lab – $500. Again, insurance paid $88.48 for a service that “cost” $500. Still can’t tell who’s trolling who.
  • Urology Lab – $309. Insurance paid the same lab $67.17 from a bill of $309.
  • Genetic Disease Lab – $162. We had to pay for this out of pocket for the Genetic Disease screening program in CA via the Department of Health.

The cost for our uncomplicated delivery in the hospital was billed at $18,220 (!!). We were able to choose a relatively good hospital with great staff and decent accommodation (though to be honest accommodation wasn’t too high on the priority list). The prenatal care, comparatively, was a lot more affordable at $1,671 with slightly more than half of the would-be cost to lab works.

As you can see, the lion-share of the cost was associated to the last three day of pregnancy. For those without maternity coverage insurance, your financial options becomes staggering difficult, with our total cost above of $19,891 reaching nearly half of an American’s median annual household income — and we haven’t even stepped out of the hospital yet to reach these cost.

Expenses After D-Day

You can run some quick numbers via lots of online calculations, but these numbers are good ballparks to think about after your baby shows up in the world:

  • Feeding cost – $0 to $105 a month. Depending on if you’re breastfeeding or going with formula, you’ll be spending some good chunk of change. (Breast pump cost below)
  • Clothing – $0 to $60 a month. This is an extremely conservative estimate base on if you have hand-me-downs from families or you can live with 2-4 sets of outfits for the kiddo. She’s going to grow out of it before you know it anyways.
  • Baby Gear – $200 to $420. From infant car seat (a must), to a basic stroller frame or a play yard. How you spend this portion depends on your immediate needs.
  • Nursery – $400 to $700. You’ll need a crib or bassinet to deposit the kid in, plus a changing table if you wish (we just ended up changing her where ever is convenience with changing pad underneath her). Lots of other stuff such as baby monitor if your baby is in another room, bedding and blankets, etc.
  • Feeding & breastfeeding supplies – $400. This is the fun part where I received lots of interesting educations in. From pumps to bottles, your spending will depend heavily on how you decide to feed your kid, which is always a personal decision.
  • Bathing & Misc Items – $50 to $300. Child proofing supplies when your baby reach that age, assortments of pacifiers if you decide to let your newborn use it, heck even birth announcement will set you back a bit (hah, my blog post is free).

Expect to spend anywhere from to $1,050 to $2,000 in the immediate aftermath. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a lot of money but its still a chunk of money if you’re unprepared.  If you were fortunate enough to have a baby shower, you can probably save a little bit here and there through gifts and help from friends and family.  While I haven’t closely tally-up all the numbers, I suspect my wife and I have spent about ~$1,200 on the initial needed items.

Thus far, we haven’t spent any outrageous amount of money due to the baby, but lets be frank, raising a child is NOT cheap. Depending on your region, a child will easily cost you more than a quarter million dollars by the time they reach 18. If you live in the more expensive states… well, you better start saving money now.

So while your initial cost is manageable if you have insurance (key factor here), having a baby can be surprisingly affordable (wow that felt stupid to write) — the real cost, of course, is after the fact. But hey, supposedly having an offspring is swell and all of this will be worth it one day.

Jury’s still out!

We’ll revisit the topics above in more details for future posts. For now, here’s a picture of our daughter showing Tyler Clary how a backstroke is really done.