The Cost of Pregnancy (So Far…)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

the cost of pregnancy

I’m about half-way through the pregnancy and wanted to report in about what it’s cost to be pregnant, and what I’ve learned about the costs of pregnancy. There were the obvious things that I expected to spend money during the pregnancy. You know, things like, maternity clothes (which I didn’t end up spending much on) and a zillion appointments… but other expenses caught me by surprise. Things like, prenatal vitamins have turned out to be shockingly pricey at $40 a bottle. I know there are over-the-counter versions but since this is my first time doing this I’m being super careful and taking the prescription ones. Once the baby is born I’ll probably switch to the over-the-counter ones since I don’t think it seems as vital at that point (maybe I’m wrong about that?). Oh, and then there’s that thing about me wanting to eat ALL THE FOOD. Turns out, that adds up quick!

What I’ve learned about the cost of pregnancy and some tips to save money during the pregnancy and birth… 

#1. Get pregnant at the tail-end of your friends pregnancies

Something that I hadn’t planned on was getting pregnant towards the middle to tail end as a lot of my pregnant friends (and sister). This means that I have been able to borrow a ton of maternity clothes and other random things from them. So, if you can get pregnant towards the middle/end of your friend’s pregnancies do it:) They will also be able to give you invaluable insights into what you really need and don’t need for both you and the baby. Every website and blog will tell you that every pregnancy and baby is different and that your needs will be different from everyone else’s. They say that because it’s the truth. What works for them might not work for you. The best thing about having friends/family members go through the pregnancy and birth before you is that there is a higher likelihood that they’ll have a similar lifestyle to you. You don’t want to take buying advice from someone who buys everything brand-name and brand-new if you err on the side of being a minimalist who’s totally okay with used stuff. See what I mean?

#2. Give birth at the end of your insurance companies fiscal year

Another surprise in the whole cost department is the actual birth. Turns out, many hospitals and birthing centers require the cost of the birth to be paid for before the birth. I don’t know what that’s all about but it seems to be the norm (does anyone know what that’s all about?). So around the 32 week mark they want 80% of the anticipated cost and then a few weeks later, still before the birth, they want the remaining 20%. The whole pre-pay thing wasn’t something we knew about but we lucked out because our insurance companies fiscal year restarts in January. Having a baby due in November means that we’ve been able to meet most of the required deductible (by the time the baby is born we will have met the entire requirement) so our out-of-pocket cost will be far less than if we had the baby in January.  In turn, our anticipated pre-pay cost of birth is less since we’ve met so much of the required deductible at this point. If there’s anyway you can plan to have your baby towards the end of your insurance companies fiscal year that’s a great idea. Also, some insurance plans restart in June/July so be on the look-out for that possibility.

#3. Choose a birthing center over a hospital (if you and baby are healthy and it’s a good fit)

We’ve decided to go with a free-standing birthing center rather than hospital, and it turns out, birthing center births are quite a bit less expensive than hospital births (we didn’t choose the birthing center because of the cost). At birthing centers you don’t have anesthesia, doctors, or a long hospital stay so the cost is significantly less than that of a hospital.

(Where and how people give birth is a super personal decision. I respect everyone’s decision to do what you need/want to do to birth your babies the way that you need/want to. Ultimately, we all have to do what we feel is right for ourselves. We’re open to a hospital birth for ourselves, if it’s needed, but so far everything is looking good and healthy for me and the baby so we’re sticking with the birthing center as the plan. We ask that you please respect our decision… )

#4. Get a doula in training

Doula’s are kind of like informed, educated, super supportive, cheerleaders who help women labor. Their prices range from $300 to over $1000 depending on their experience and where you live. There is a doula that came highly recommended so I called her up and that’s when she told me that she charges $950. That was completely over what we thought we wanted to spend and she must have sensed my shock/hesitancy at the price so she started telling me about a doula/mentor program that she and another doula run. In exchange for letting the doula-in-training be with us during the birth we get her and the mentor’s services free of charge. The doula-in-training has been through all of the required classes and certifications and assisting at a number of actual births if one of the last requirements. We still need to meet with them and discuss the details but so far, that’s the plan regarding the doula.

#5. Take advantage of the free breast pump through your insurance 

This is a new thing that is available to most insurance holders now because of Obamacare. I would recommend calling your insurance company before you have the baby. Our insurance (United) offers two different pumps (both are over $200) and the one that I would like to get is back-ordered. Also, they won’t actually send you the breast pump until the baby is born so that means you’re looking at getting the actual pump quite awhile after the baby is born (maybe 30 days after). They have paperwork that needs to be filled out so I’m going to have that ready to be sent as soon as I can so the process can get underway without delay once the baby gets here. If you don’t have insurance I’ve heard that you can get used breast-pumps and just replace the tubing. I’m not sure how that works exactly but it sounds like it could be a good option, if needed.

How it shakes out… 

Overall, I’d say we’ve done pretty good and have spent a low to moderate amount on the pregnancy. While I don’t have an exact number, I would guess that it’s under $650. That includes: some maternity clothes, ultrasound co-pays, prenatal vitamins, more food than I would usually eat, birth/breastfeeding/newborn care classes (most expensive thing at this point), a prenatal massage (had to), a couple of prenatal yoga classes, 2 pairs of new shoes (my feet grew/flattened to an extra a size-and-a-half= omg!), cocoa butter, body pillow, and random/miscellaneous things that I normally wouldn’t have bought had I not been pregnant.

This article was recently posted by the New York Times and highlights the cost of childbirth in American: American Way of Birth, Cosliest in the World and this infographic is really eye-opening too: Royal Baby Puts Cost of Giving Birth in the U.S. to Shame.


Do you have any tips for me? Thoughts/ideas/other ways to save money on the pregnancy or birth that I don’t know about? I’d love your insights and advice. 


in Personal, Pregnancy


  1. Sarah // July 23, 2013

    Your post this morning is very sweet! Congratulations on your pregnancy and on keeping your head with the spending! So many of my girlfriends went a little nuts on baby items and afterwards regretted the purchases. One even said “I would have over $2000 cash in my hands if I hadn’t bought all that junk”. So though we are a wishful mama-papa couple right now, we are certainly learning a lot ahead of time.
    Congratulations again and Be Blessed!

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Thank you so much! Yeah, trying to stay thrifty and not get all baby gear/cute baby clothes crazy. It can definitely be tough to stay focused and realize we don’t really need that much.

  2. Raina // July 23, 2013

    That pregnancy massage is SO WORTH IT RIGHT?! I had one at the very end of my pregnancy and was like, “Uh, that was worth every cent. Why wasn’t I doing this the whole time?” So I say you deserve another one (or three) :)

    Also if you ever get pregnant again someday, you can save your stuff and won’t have to buy any clothes/shoes/accessory type stuff again!

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Yes, the massage was AMAZING! Gotta hook myself up with another one of those soon;)

  3. Roxy // July 23, 2013

    I have two kids and never had to pre-pay for a birth. I guess financially it does make sense for the hospital to ensure the cost is covered, but it could be a financial shock for someone not expecting it. A great way to save time and money after the baby is born is to have people pledge meals for you in the first couple of weeks. You and your hubby will probably be so tired and out of your usual rhythm that having meals taken care of for you would be amazing. Also, if you plan to breastfeed it is an amazing cureall. You can save yourself money on eye drops if your little one gets a clogged duct, nipple cream if you have issues, and even antibiotics if someone gets an ear infection. Sounds crazy, but research the benefits and you’ll find how awesome liquid gold (aka breastmilk) really can be!

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Yeah, the pre-paid birth thing was a big surprise to us (thankfully we will be getting reimbursed for our over-payment) but still… Also, love the idea of the meal train. Praying we get lucky enough to have friends help us out like that. I’ve never heard of using breast milk for anything other than feeding the baby… I’ve got to look into this asap!

  4. No Waste // July 23, 2013

    Having been an observer of my wife’s pregnancies, I can say that I look back on them with fond memories.

    I know it’s not financial, but one note I would make is to say that if you have a birth plan, go ahead and throw it away it now.

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      I’ve heard that a few times and have even heard it referred to as a “Birth Wishlist”.

  5. Michelle // July 23, 2013

    Love this post! We plan on having kids in the next couple of years :)

  6. whitney @ thecurtisc // July 23, 2013

    Awesome tips, Anna! I had NO idea you have to pay for all the birth stuff before the baby actually comes! No idea. I’m filing this post away for when I need it hehe :)

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Isn’t that so strange! I never would’ve guessed either! It’s sounding like it depends on where you give birth and where you live in general.

  7. Rachel // July 23, 2013

    Love these tips and love hearing about your experiences of saving money while pregnant! So helpful! :)

  8. Robin // July 23, 2013

    Hiya, Anna! Along with being a frugal registered dietitian and mama of 2, I’m a certified lactation educator. Just wanted to drop in and let you and your readers know that a breast pump, while helpful, isn’t always needed. Lots of moms express more milk using hand expression (free!) than when using a pump. There are some great videos and tutorials online to show you how. If your interested in some good links, let me know! Best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy! :)

  9. Meghan // July 23, 2013

    Hi, congrats! So, my mom says that her feet also grew 1/2 size with every kid and flattened, and they never went back to normal! You may want to invest in some good arch supports and wear them religiously. :)

  10. Sarah Silvester // July 23, 2013

    Congratulations! It’s all so exciting.
    I just really wanted to whinge on your behalf, you Americans. It is sooo unfair that it costs so much to have a baby safely there. I live in New Zealand and all my midwife appointments, any specialists needed, plus my birth and hospital stay are free because they are government funded. My husbands best friend married an American girl and they had to save up for years before they could even try for a baby. Now they have the money it’s just not happening for them. It’s so upsetting!
    So far attempts to move them over here to have babies and then move them back have failed, unfortunately ;) it’s a big decision to leave your country to have kids.
    Anyway I think it’s so good Anna that you’re helping people out with affordable-ness during pregnancy.
    Having had 3 babies in the last 5 years I definitely say borrowing stuff is the way to go! If you don’t have friends to borrow off I’d invest in a good pair of maternity jeans, and a good stroller. And car seat. But other stuff could be second hand or thrifted even. :)

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Our American pre-natal and birthing situation is definitely cringe-worthy. It’s hard to believe our country is set up the way it is especially compared to the amazing care in other countries.

      So sorry to hear about your friends misfortune. Sending good thoughts and vibes that things turn around for them soon. Not much worse then wanting a baby so bad and not being able to have one.

      Thank you also for the tips… very useful!

  11. Sarah // July 23, 2013

    We went with over the counter pre-natals and found that our crisis pregnancy center gives them away for free if you have one consult with them! Saved us a lot, those things are $$. They also did a free ultrasound. I’ve borrowed a lot of maternity clothes thanks to really kind friends, and we chose to go with midwives / doulas as well! Craigslisted a bunch of baby stuff, and yard sales are our BFF. The only thing is that suddenly I can’t control spending for baby clothes. ha! :) So excited for you guys!

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      I had no idea about the crisis center/pre-natal vitamins thing or about the ultrasound. Really good info to know! Omg… those little baby clothes are so adorable. It’s taking all I’ve got to control myself! I’m so excited for you two too!

  12. Amanda // July 24, 2013

    I’ve never heard of having to pre-pay for a birth! Wow, that’s different! I wound up having a home birth and loved it. It’s certainly not right for everyone but I was SHOCKED how inexpensive it was. All of my pre-natal care and my birth with two midwives was $2,000 without insurance. My insurance is paying part of it and I haven’t gotten the final bill yet, but even if I had to pay the full cost, I thought that was incredibly reasonable, especially for the personal attention and level of care I received.
    The breast pump coverage from insurance can be frustrating – my insurance would only pay for a single hand-pump. :(

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Yeah, I’m still not totally sure what’s up with the pre-paid birth thing (going to look into it more). That’s awesome that your home birth was so reasonable; it’s the same at the birthing center- really affordable.

      That’s a total bummer about the breast pump! A single-hand pump?!? That’s not even realistic, is it?!

  13. Viktoria // July 24, 2013

    Reading things like this makes me oh so glad that I live in Canada! Never saw a single bill for anything. I did end up using generic store-bought prenatal vitamins instead of prescription – oddly enough the prescription ones made me more nauseous than the generic, I have no clue why. One thing I will say now is avoid over-doing it with buying baby stuff. It can be so tempting, there’s just so much fun stuff out there, but half of it isn’t really necessary. With baby #1 I thought I had to have everything, I learned my lesson by baby #2. Oh, and find a good used children’s goods store in your area… I found an awesome consignment place close by and I have sold and bought a lot there (strollers, baby carriers, high chairs, and cribs are always easy to find second-hand – and then sell them back when you’re done with them). Bonus: when my kids outgrew their clothes I’d take them into the store and get store credit to buy the next size up, so I didn’t spend a whole lot on clothes for the first few years.

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Yes, you are very lucky to not have to worry about the cost of the birth (and/or pregnancy?). Thanks for the insights too- they’re really great!

  14. Laurean // July 25, 2013

    I wish there were blogs around when I had my kids! But you are right, the birthing centers are the place to have them! On top of being cheaper, I think the whole experience and the people are more genuinely nice.

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      I like that I feel empowered when I leave the birthing center. Even if I’m feeling like, “Uhhh… CAN I REALLY do this?!” They are always like, “Yes! Your body was made for this!” Pretty cool…

  15. Crystal // July 26, 2013

    If I ever have a kid, you and your commenters have brought me over to the “birthing center” idea! And prenatal massage…

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      How cool to hear that! Birthing centers are definitley worth looking into and prenatal massages are freaking awesome;)

  16. Kim@Eyesonthedollar // July 28, 2013

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I unfortunately did not piggyback mine with someone else, but I did manage to buy most of my maternity clothes on Ebay, and they were like new, so that was a plus.

    I also prepaid for my delivery. We don’t have a birthing center where we live, but the hospital offered a 24 hour plan with no drugs, etc for a discounted rate. I wanted a natural child birth, so that sounded great to me. My pregnancy was normal. My daughter was a normal size. I am very healthy.

    However, after many hours of labor, my daughter got stuck and we had to do an emergency C-section. She was fine, but I had some complications and ended up staying in the hospital for a week.

    We both turned out great, and I realize it really doesn’t matter how the baby comes into the world, as long as everyone is healthy in the end. I know most women have normal childbirths with no problems, and I certainly am not trying to scare you in any way, but I never considered anything other than what I had planned, and I was very depressed for a while after. I wouldn’t dwell on it, but at least make sure you have discussed other options so you won’t have to worry about it if it the need arises. Best of luck and enjoy the last half of your pregnancy. I found that most all people are especially nice to pregnant ladies!

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Thanks for the congratulations Kim, and that’s awesome that you got your maternity clothes on Ebay.

      I agree, it ultimately doesn’t matter how the baby comes into the world. We’re researching what goes into the other birth options just in case we find ourselves in that situation. Thanks for putting that out there :)

  17. Andrea // July 28, 2013

    Ah, congratulations! I am right with you :) 21 weeks pregnant and planning the same style of care. I hope all is well.

  18. Betsy / CollegeMom // July 28, 2013

    Anna, it sounds like you’re doing great! The only advice I can give is to stock up on burp towels/cloths and to not buy too many clothes for your little one initially. Most babies really only need the little sleepers or onesies and a few outfits for venturing out. My parents went so crazy on clothes there were outfits my oldest never wore before she grew out of them.

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Thanks for the insights Betsy! Since we’ll have a winter baby we are thinking cozy sleepers are definitely going to be the way to go. Eeee… those little baby clothes are so stinking cute.

  19. Crista // July 31, 2013

    Hi Anna, I just wanted to say yeah to you for birth center birth!! I had my son at home last September, he was my first as well. It was an awesome experience as I’m sure you will have alsol. Don’t let people scare you! I stopped telling people about our decision to have a home birth when I got raised eyebrows and comments that I was putting my child at risk- oh hell no! I know for a fact that I would have had a c-section if I were in the hospital since my son was in the posterior position and I was hard pushing for 2 hours, no hospital around here is down with that. Just trust your body, we were meant to do this! Congrats btw =)

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words, and I’m so happy to hear you had a great experience with your home birth. Yeah, we get some raised eyebrows here and there (hence the disclaimer;) but I know it’s the best decision for our family and since I’m low/no-risk we’re going to do what we can to have an educated natural birth. I figure if my body knows how to grow a whole human on its own it probably knows how to get it out of there too since that seems like the simplest part of the whole process! ;)

  20. Felicity // August 1, 2013

    Great post! #2 made me laugh because it reminded me of our birthing class instructor mentioning that those of us that had our babies before the end of the year would be able to get the child tax credit a year earlier than our peers who had their babies on or after January 1st. Amazing what a difference a day makes!

  21. Jaime Mason // August 12, 2013

    If u haven’t had your shower yet, tell all your friends to get u diapers. U might plan on using cloth diapers, (good luck w/ that) if so, u’re still gonna need a lot of those. Diapers, diapers, diapers. Also, I assume u’re gonna Breast Feed, since that’s the cheapest. Get thick (I think they’re called) Lap pads. Put those under u at nite, if u’re anything like me, u’ll wake up swimmin in Breast Milk. I made enough milk to feed 2 more babies, both times.

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Okay, I’ll keep that in mind about the diapers, and yep, going to breast feed so that’s great to know about the lap pads! I appreciate the tips:)

  22. Cattis // August 13, 2013

    This is really interesting for me, since I live in Sweden and I have two children. Here everything is “free”, if you want to know if you´re having a boy or a girl you have to pay for that ultrasound and when in hospital we pay $12-13 a day for our stay. Pretty much everything that has to do with doctors, hospital, pregnancy and so in is covered with taxmoney. We have to pay for vitamins and stuff, we even get the first diapers at the hospital, but that mat be diffent depending on with city you live in. My advise is: don´t get much stuff, we borrowed babyclothes (we bought one set that we could save as memory later), maternityclothes also borrowed. We bought a crib, we never used that for our first child, he slept in the bed with us. I think you need: a carseat for the baby, a wagon (or some other solution, babies like to be really close so maybe som carrying-solution) and somewhere to change diapers. I think you can make it with very little things in the beginning because the baby only wants to eat, poo and sleep anyway :) Good luck with your pregnancy och your baby :)

    • Anna Newell Jones // August 15, 2013

      Gosh, I really wish the US would catch up with other countries regarding pregancy and births. It feels like we are so behind in that department, and it’s frustrating to hear about families who struggle to afford the cost of their births here in the US.

      Thank you for the tips too on what we will need. We’re going to try to keep it simple and stick to the basics.

  23. Sue // August 16, 2013

    Congrats!! I passed your page along to a friend who is due in a few months…so full of great info. I didn’t have to prepay for my birth but its something to definitely look into just in case!! Look for a site in your area. I got SOOOO many free clothes and toys for my daughter on this site. Everything is free!! I swear by this site. If breastfeeding doesn’t workout like you hope (it didn’t for me) look up a LA Leche league to get help, and if it still isn’t working and you have to formula feed, sign up at all the formula makers sites, they will send you enough to get a few free cans every few months. Don’t be scared to use the store brand, or Costco…they were all lifesavers for me!! If your boobs get so sore you get mastitis(sp?) take showers as HOT as you can possibly stand them….milk will start to flow again…a neat trick gleaned from cows!

    when it comes to the baby stuff they recommend for your registry….subtract about 3/4 of that stuff, you don’t really need it. unless you live in a giant mansion, skip the baby monitor you will hear them cry!! and if you ever suspect they aren’t breathing use a mirror or back of the spoon under their nose…I would plug my LO’s nose, but I am a 1st time momma on a LEARNING CURVE!!!

    good luck!!

  24. Julie // August 21, 2013

    Two money-saving tips I love: Cloth diapers and buy used clothes. Go to the Giggling Green Bean to check out the diapers there–you’ll be amazed at how awesome they are these days. GGB has new & used, and Colo has great diaper re-sale. I got most of my stash (I use pocket diapers, mostly Rumparooz) used on Craigslist, and have spent about $300. Compare that to disposable and we’re saving thousands. I just wish we’d started with our first kid!
    Also, don’t buy new baby clothes. They outgrow them so fast. The best consignment shop is Once Upon a Child on Wadsworth–worth the drive as their clothes are like new for about 1/5 of the price!

  25. Thevi // August 22, 2013

    First, congratulations on your pregnancy! This post is so useful as well as many of your other posts! I’ll keep this in mind when I plan on having my own little one~

    I’ve had a specific post bookmarked from you with a bunch of useful cheap dates ideas~ I just decided to come back and look at all of your posts since I will need some insights since I will be moving into my own apartment next summer and need to save as much as possible especially with college debt coming!

    By far, I found many, many, many great tips especially with the college textbooks! Squeee~ Keep it up~ :)

  26. Retired By 40! // September 5, 2013

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! The whole prepaid birth thing is something I hadn’t though about – I am due in 6 weeks – but I called my insurance company and the hospital to make sure that it was not the case for me!

    However, my insurance does not cover breast pumps…….sad. So, we had to shell out for one after careful consideration. If I have trouble with breastfeeding and production levels and we have to switch to formula I will be very unhappy about buying the pump!
    As your pregnancy progresses, you might find that towards the end even the maternity clothes do not fit and that you have to buy another size of clothes. That was a shock to me!
    Good luck with the rest of your journey!

  27. Hannah // September 19, 2013

    Good tips overall but how easy is it to really “plan” when to have a baby in relation to your friends and time of year. After 1.5 years of infertility I would love to have a baby anytime.

    Also, I respect your decision to choose a birth center but also appreciate you acknowledging that it’s not for everyone.

    • Anna Newell Jones // September 19, 2013

      I’m not saying it’s easy to plan a pregnancy at all, and I’m sorry to hear about your struggle with infertility. Just mentioned it so that if it works out that you happen to be pregnant at a certain time in relation to your friends pregnancies it’s a great thing cost-wise. Asking them to save their maternity clothes and baby items for you works just as well. :)

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