Illustration of pregnant woman with long hair.

If you’re thinking about having a baby, a million thoughts are probably coming to mind. How much time can you take off from work? What will your medical care involve? How painful is childbirth, really? And, likely: How much does it cost to have a baby?

You’re smart to think all this through, including the financial component. Whether you’re determining what a nursery might look like or you’re assessing parental leave benefits, money is an important consideration. Raising a child isn’t cheap — and the expenses start almost immediately during pregnancy — so it’s important to understand all the costs involved to effectively plan ahead.

Medical care and doctor’s visits

Prenatal care is important to support a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Depending on your insurance, you could pay anywhere from $0 to $60 on average (or more) in copays per visit. Outside of copays, an obstetrician visit can cost $90 to $500 on average. And that amount may not include screenings, lab tests and ultrasounds. If you have a health savings account, pregnancy is a great time to use some of that money.

Prenatal vitamins

Your doctor will likely recommend prenatal vitamins to provide additional nutrients to you and your growing baby. Luckily, you can buy these over the counter at any drugstore, and you can often get a 30- to 60-day supply for under $30. Plus, you might be able to score an even better deal by checking out the health care coupons on our main site or the cash back offers on our app.

Maternity clothes

As the baby bump grows, so does the need for new clothes. You can purchase maternity clothes and bras from major retailers, but you might also consider looking for secondhand outfits at your local thrift store to save some money. Also, ask friends or family if they have maternity clothing they no longer need and might be willing to give away.

Pregnancy books and parenting classes

It’s a great idea to educate yourself on pregnancy and parenting before the baby arrives. Thankfully, there are a lot of resources out there to help. Purchase used pregnancy books or head to your local library to get the literature you need on the cheap.

You may also want to take a parenting or birthing class leading up to the due date. Many communities offer birthing classes for free, but some in-depth programs can cost around $250 or more. Consider adding a line item for “Pregnancy Education” to your monthly budget if you’re interested in these resources.

Labor and delivery costs

Actually having the baby is probably the most costly expense to plan for. So, how much does it cost to have a baby?

For the uninsured, in a hospital setting, anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000.

For those with employer-based insurance, it’s a much better picture. Vaginal deliveries cost an average of about $4,314 out of pocket in 2015 (the most recent data available). The cost of a C-section, meanwhile, is $5,161 — making $4,500 the average for all insured deliveries in 2015.

These estimated charges include doctor’s services, lab tests, medications (like an epidural) and anesthesia if needed. Your individual labor and delivery costs will come down to key factors like:

  • The hospital or birthing center you choose
  • Fees for a doula or midwife if you hire one
  • The medications you’re administered during labor
  • Whether a cesarean section is required
  • Any unforeseen complications that require additional screening, medications and treatment

Talk to your insurance provider to clarify what will be covered for the labor and delivery and what your out-of-pocket costs might be. That way, you can budget for these expenses or explore options to reduce your medical bills.

How to start saving for a baby

You can start setting aside money for a baby by choosing a fixed amount to save each month. Here are some ideas to help you save.

Redirect some existing savings

If you have an existing emergency fund or any other savings, consider designating some of that money for pregnancy and childbirth instead. Whether you have $500 saved or $2,000, this money could help you cover some immediate expenses. From there, continue to set aside a fixed amount that works for you.

Slash your biggest expenses temporarily

Some of the biggest expenses for most households are housing, transportation and food. While it’s unlikely you’ll want to downsize your home or sell your car while you wait for a baby, one of the easiest areas to save is by cutting your food costs.

Are you eating a lot of takeout? See if you can plan more meals at home, and test out different budget-friendly meals. Set a fixed grocery budget each month — while still following your doctor’s advice for proper nutrition during pregnancy. Take advantage of any store deals to stretch your dollar, and use our app to find more ways to save, too.

Pick up a side hustle

Although it might not always be possible, starting a side hustle from home is a solution that pregnant people and their partners can take advantage of (depending on their circumstances). Perhaps you or your partner could pick up some extra hours at work, or start a low-effort side business such as selling spare items and clothes from your home, walking dogs or signing up for focus groups online.

Expect costs while you’re expecting

Since everyone’s situation and circumstances are different, the exact cost of having a baby is hard to predict. It may cost a few thousand dollars or more than $10,000. What does help is knowing you can estimate costs based on your insurance and provider’s services. You can also sit down with key family members and start planning for expenses and how you’d like to save or supplement costs each month.

Sticking to a budget and lowering some of your flexible expenses like groceries, household items and maternity clothes can only free up more money to use for pregnancy-related expenses. And remember, though costs are involved, having a child is ultimately priceless.