Prenatal Costs: What Medical Expenses to Expect During Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant for the first time, you’ll soon realize pregnancy isn’t as simple as lounging around the house waiting for baby to arrive. Unfortunately, there will be many visits to your doctor or midwife, ultrasound appointments, blood tests and so much more. Depending on where you have your baby and what insurance coverage you have, you may end up paying part or all of your prenatal costs.

Pregnancy medical expenses can be confusing even with provincial or private insurance, since you still may pay part of the cost for various procedures. Prenatal costs will vary by from province-to-province and state-to-state, depending upon your healthcare insurance and local healthcare providers.

To help make things easier, I wanted to share with you some of the prenatal costs you may come across along the way with a healthy baby.

Prenatal Costs: What Medical Expenses to Expect During Pregnancy

This is a guest post written for the Koala Mom; numbers are based on American hospitals.

First Trimester Medical Expenses

During the first semester, the expected costs are mainly for checkup reasons. You will need to book appointments and visit a doctor or midwife. Your care provider will check your blood pressure, weight, fundal height measurement and fetal heart rate (when time’s right). These appointments will likely happen once a month for the first trimester.

These prenatal costs, depending on your insurance coverage, will range from an average of $15 – $115. The cost could increase due to extra lab work and tests, which can often include the following:

  • Early ultrasound—An early ultrasound is not performed on most occasions, especially if you appear to be healthy. An early ultrasound scan is usually carried out to establish the location of the fetus, the number of fetuses in your womb, the viability of your pregnancy and how far along you are. According to Howmuchisit.org, a reputable cost information site, the estimated average cost of an ultrasound is $100 to $300.
  • Lab work and tests—Lab work primarily involves blood tests for screening. Blood type, hemoglobin measurements, Rh status, common birth defects, immunity and exposure to certain types of infections are the tests you will often have done. Insurance covers most of these costs and again, costs vary from one place to another.  Once everything is said and done, the total amount of bloodwork could be as little as $20 to close to $1,000.
  • Prenatal vitamins—Most prenatal vitamins are found over-the-counter in many drugstores. Your doctor or midwife can also prescribe prenatal vitamins if you wish. If you opt to purchase over the counter, be ready to spend $10-$20 on a bottle with a month’s supply.

Additional tests for high-risk pregnancies can cost even more, and some may not be covered by insurance providers. Discuss all tests with your care provider and know why you are being sent for each test. If you have a healthy, normal pregnancy, most tests are not necessary.

Prenatal Costs in the Second Trimester

The second trimester involves more prenatal visits and more lab tests. The second semester goes until the 28th week of your pregnancy. During this trimester, you will more than likely have the following tests done:

  • Maternal Blood ScreeningThis blood screening is done to look for substances that could signify birth defects. Costs for maternal blood screening vary from one region to another and will usually be a few hundred dollars for those with a higher deductible policy.
  • Glucose Screening—This test is performed around week 24-28 and basically tests for gestational diabetes. The costs could be as much as $100 to $200 if it is not covered by your policy.
  • Ultrasound—An ultrasound is done around weeks 16-20, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  This ultrasound will look at the general well-being and the locations of the baby and placenta, ovaries and cervix. This process is usually covered by insurance and can also be used to check your baby’s sex.

As before, additional tests will create additional prenatal costs. Continue to discuss all tests with your doctor or midwife.

What You’ll Pay in Your Third Trimester

At this stage, there are more frequent appointments as you near your delivery date. Most tests are carried out in the first and second trimester.

Birthing classes are something to consider if this is your first pregnancy. There is a lot to learn to prepare for motherhood. Birthing classes help you get ready for labor and delivery. They may covered by insurance and cost an average of $50 to $200 if you have to pay out of pocket. To save money, you can also find free online parenting courses, including Lamaze and Kopa Birth classes.

Labor and Delivery Costs

This is the final stage of your pregnancy and the most expensive. There is no common cost of childbirth as prices vary from one hospital to another.

The bills will be higher if you have to be induced or receive special/additional treatment, so do keep this mind. One night in the NICU, for example, can exceed $5,000. Normal births can cost up to $30,000, while cesarean births can cost $50,000 with no complications. These prices will be for those without insurance and depend on so many factors such as your geographical location, the hospital and what was done during the birth.

It’s crucial to be aware of potential financial challenges associated with childbirth, especially if complications arise, as they can significantly impact expenses. In cases where medical negligence contributes to complications leading to intellectual disabilities, consulting with an intellectual disability attorney may be necessary to explore legal options and seek appropriate compensation.

With insurance coverage, the out-of-pocket share is estimated to be $2, 200 to $3,100 for the hospital stay alone. In this case, knowing how much you need to cough up will be determined by what is covered under your policy, including co-insurance and deductibles.

If you have a midwife, you may be able to avoid hospital costs by choosing a home birth (if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy). However, labour and delivery will still be the biggest part of your midwife fees. In Canada, midwifery care is fully funded in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

Summary of Prenatal Costs

It can be hard to give an exact quote because every insurance policy will be different. Hopefully, this breakdown can help you understand which tests you may need as well as what you’re going to pay for them. If you ever have concerns with your bill, your care provider will be more than happy to discuss what it’s going to cost with your insurance plan.

As Marissa says in her list of 29 Pregnancy Must-Haves, “Always find out if the doctors, labs, and hospitals that you’re going to are covered under your policy. It’s not the office’s job to tell you if they are not covered before the appointment, it’s yours.” She adds, “You also can’t assume that just because your OB takes your insurance, that the ultrasound tech, blood labs, and other specialists do too (even if they referred you). Your insurance is your responsibility and unfortunately, the doctors and administration are not looking out for you.  ”

Did you face any unexpected prenatal costs during your pregnancy? What would you add to this list?

Stephanie is a freelance writer who resides in Arizona with her two sons and husband.  At the moment, she works with Howmuchisit, a cost-helping database.

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