What to Expect: Hospital Birth Costs

Mom's and Baby's Health

Happy and healthy -- that's all that matters, right? Although that wish has nothing to do with hospital costs, complications can really increase them.

Some common (and costly, but not-so-common) delivery complications include premature rupture of the amniotic sac, abnormal presentation, dangerous umbilical cord positioning, difficulty breathing, amniotic fluid embolisms, irregular blood pressure, postpartum hemorrhage, bleeding in the brain, fluid accumulation in the brain, neurological problems, intestinal problems, jaundice and anemia, according to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Many of these complications are out of your hands, but you can help to make sure they are treated as quickly and easily by getting good old-fashioned prenatal care, Dr. Stern says. You want your healthcare team to know your and your baby's chart backward and forward, including all of your medications, allergies, health conditions and any problems experienced during pregnancy, as all of these can affect how your doc should treat you on the big day. Talk, talk, talk with your ob-gyn during your prenatal checkups and on the day. She can read your tests, but not your mind.

Be aware that any health condition can increase complications and delivery costs. For example, a delivery stay costs an average of 55 percent more ($5,900) for a woman with diabetes, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

Premature birth is one of the largest game-changers in terms of medical costs, occurring in about 1 of 8 pregnancies. Average healthcare for premature/low birth weight infants is nearly 11 times more costly than that for newborns without complications, according to a Thomson Reuters study for March of Dimes.

However, knowing the symptoms and avoiding particular risk factors can lower your chance of going into premature labor. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, talk to your ob-gyn about what you can do to help prevent premature delivery. If you do go into premature labor, your doctor may use medications to halt uterine contractions, according to Mayo Clinic-- but those meds are going to cost you. And if they cause additional maternal complications, they are going to cost you even more.

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