My initial thought when brainstorming this article was to show my readers and whoever may come across this post how affordable a home birth or birth center birth was compared to birth at a hospital. But, after doing research, that really isn’t the case for everyone, and in a lot of instances, a home birth has turned out more expensive!

home or hospital birth cost difference

Yikes, right?! Imagine my surprise, as a home birth mama and advocate for a natural birth that the claim of, “My hospital birth would have been more expensive!” could have been completely false. Of course, I don’t know that in its entirety because I’ve only had a home birth, so I asked a group of women in a birth forum on social media to help me out with their experiences. Here’s what I discovered:

Birth Center vs. Home Birth vs. Hospital

  • From about seven different women, the average birth center birth was around $2,600, the lowest being at $1,700 and the one highest being $5,000. With these numbers be sure to note that this is an all-inclusive price, just like it typically is with a home birth. This means all prenatal care, all birth care (no matter how long your labor is), all postpartum check-ups, are included in this price. 
  • From twelve women, the average home birth cost was about the same, around $2,500, the lowest being an unassisted free birth at $500 and the highest quote $3,500. In both birth center and home births, they reported no complications. There can be added costs here such as getting your own birthing tub if your midwife doesn’t provide that, or if you choose to get extra towels, pads, your own pee bottle, etc, it just depends on what your care provider brings and what your preferences are during birth. 
  • From eighteen women who gave birth at a hospital, the numbers were so scattered an average price wouldn’t make sense to say. Those who resulted in having a C-section quoted about $25,000 before insurance. Two women who had a NICU bill added on to the birth quoted $45,000 and the second $112,000. Women that had an induction, epidural and gave birth vaginally with some added on things like a longer stay or antibiotics ranged from $4,500 to $20,000 before insurance. Some women had no complications and were fully covered by their insurance, some only had to pay about $600 to $1700 (after insurance), while others paid about $8000 out of pocket because they weren’t double covered or hadn’t met their deductible for that year. Those who had met their deductible would get an average bill between $3,000-$4,000.  Note: these are not all-inclusive prices, they didn’t include co-pays at prenatal visits, or ultrasounds or any bloodwork bills, postpartum care, etc. These are just for the birth of the baby. 

RELATED: What Does Natural Birth Feel Like? And Is It For You?

What can we take from this? 

It seems to me that insurance is what it really boils down to when you’re considering your finances for your own birth.

Most of the women above who had had a home or birth center birth didn’t have an insurance company that covered an out of hospital birth so they had to pay out of pocket. There are a few, including myself, that did have insurance that covered a portion of an out of hospital birth, and I can’t tell you how much help that was with our first born. But the majority do not, and it kind of sucks when you think about it!

For instance, this next birth that I’m planning to have at home will not be covered. I’ve changed insurances from my first birth and they don’t cover out of hospital. And it stinks that we are paying a monthly health insurance bill that isn’t going to do squat because we’re choosing to birth out of hospital. Especially because it is the biggest chunk of money that could go towards a deductible for the year, helping with other expenses.

RELATED: Nine Reasons Why I Chose a Home Birth Instead of the Hospital!

You might ask, then why don’t you just do it in a hospital? You can still go unmedicated, you can choose a good doctor if you’d like, you just have to drive there, right? Here’s the kicker, even though I can guarantee that insurance will kick in to help with a hospital birth, I can’t guarantee what the amount will be that will be billed and then covered by my insurance in the end. Whereas with a midwife at home or at a birth center, they just give a simple flat fee whether insurance is involved or not. Watch the video here to see a man who took a long journey to get a quote that then ended up lower than their final bill:

It brings such simplicity and peace of mind to me that there are professionals out there (midwives, doulas and birth assistants) who get the basics of birth, that there really isn’t too much halabaloo about it, and who can give you a cost upfront without a problem. 

And if there are complications or needing transport to a hospital that would be completely separate from their care, and billed separately as well. 

The vibe I get from new parents and previous hospital birth patients is that our healthcare system could be a little bit better (this is in the United States). Especially since some of the women (most located in Utah, USA) that were polled for this article chose a more expensive home or birth center birth even after their less expensive, insurance covered hospital births. That, to me, says there is better care being given outside the hospital and medical system, and that is worth support from insurance companies, and the uncertainty of a bill from the hospital can’t beat the certainty of a flat fee from a certified midwife, a doula, and family and friends who are there to support you during your birthing time. 

The freedom that a birth center birth and a home birth assisted by a midwife gives the mother trumps the restrictions and rules in a hospital birth by far. No matter the cost. 

This isn’t fact, obviously, it’s just my opinion, I know there are good doctors out there who advocate for healthy mommies and babies and births, it’s just unfortunate the financial system that the medical industry has in place. Or lack thereof. That we, as parents and providers, can’t get a clear cost from our health professionals (service providers) for the birth of our babies. And it just poses a huge question in my head, WHY? 

So, if it’s possibly more expensive to give birth at home, would you still do it?

Yes I personally enjoy the comfort of knowing how much it would cost and being in a place where I’m completely comfortable to be completely naked and vulnerable to giving birth. With freedoms to eat, walk, move around, squat, sit in water however long I want without being attached to a fetal monitor or any IV, dance, watch my show, and so on. So, factoring in the general culture of a hospital birth, I just know I’m not the right fit for birth there unless its an emergency. 

Just remember, mama, no matter the cost, it’s where YOU are most comfortable and feel most safe to give birth. Though the costs can be daunting for some, a healthy baby and mama are all you really desire at the end of everything. Don’t let the price tag and your insurance company not covering things stop you from a birth you hope for and would be healthy for you and baby. There are great hospitals out there as well as many midwives and birth centers offer financial aid in other ways than just insurance or break down their costs into payments to create the possibility to all who want the care they can provide. You simply just need to ask!

birth in a hospital compared to home

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