Labor and delivery costs

When you find out you're pregnant, you can't help yourself—you start to worry about lots of things...morning sickness, how to tell your boss you'll need maternity leave, whether your ass will triple in size! Then the big question dons on you (or in my case, my husband, the family numbers' cruncher): "How much is being pregnant going to cost?!"

There are check-ups, ultrasounds (that lead to weekly visits in the final month before delivery), tests for things like gestational diabetes and genetic disorders (especially important if you're over 35). All of these things add up, and you haven't even gotten to the actual delivery yet, where every little thing given to you at the hospital is an additional charge. Epidurals aren't included. Need to be induced? That's extra. Emergency Cesarean? Wow, that's really going to cost you!

In the United States the price of delivery has almost tripled since 1996, according to an analysis done for The New York Times by Truven Health Analytics. From 2004 to 2010, the prices that insurers paid for childbirth rose 49 percent for vaginal births and 41 percent for Caesarean sections in the United States, while average out-of-pocket costs rose a whopping four times the previous price. (Meanwhile, in many other countries maternity care is completely free.)

So how much will you be forking over? The average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care is about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section, with insurers paying out an average of $18,329 and $27,866, according to a recent report by Truven Health Analytics. That's a range of anywhere from a little over $2,000 out of pocket to more than $31,000! In 2012, the average cost in the US was $9,775 for a delivery, with the average Cesarean costing $15, 041.

The really scary part is that not all insurance plans even cover prenatal care. So stop whatever you're doing right now and call your insurance company to see if you're covered. In 2011, 62 percent of women in the US covered by private plans that were not obtained through an employer did not have coverage for prenatal costs. And those whose insurance companies do offer coverage, still have to deal with higher co-payments and deductibles—and not all baby-related medical expenses are covered.

There is a silver lining to all of this—sort of. Starting next year insurance policies will be required under the Affordable Care Act to include maternity coverage. The bad news is the law is not specific about what services must be included, so there will likely be loopholes for hospitals and insurance companies to still gouge prices.

Don't freak out, but the take-home here is clear: having a baby is not cheap, the system is pretty messed up, and you need to start saving now!

TELL US: Have you been saving for prenatal visits and delivery costs? Are you shocked at how much having a baby costs?

Image of hospital bed courtesy of Shutterstock.