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How Much Does a Home Birth Cost?

How much does a home birth cost? Are home births cheaper than hospital births? What additional expenses should you expect? Find out exactly how much you should expect to pay for your planned home birth in this blog post.

mom and baby right after a home birth

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More than 50,000 births in the US every year are home births. That’s only about 1.5% but the number has been increasing. Planned home births are becoming more popular.

One of many factors in choosing a home birth over a hospital birth is cost. A planned home birth is almost always a cheaper option that giving birth in the hospital or even in a birth center.

In this blog post we’ll look at what all the costs are (from paying your midwife to getting your birth certificates to hiring a birth photographer) and how insurance might affect those costs. 

Are Home Births Safe?

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: are home births safe?

Short answer: yes – for most women, most of the time, home births are safe. I dig into WHY that’s true in my blog post Are Home Births Safe?

Related to the issue of safety is whether or not anyone can do a home birth. Again, yes, most women could confidently choose a home birth knowing it’s a good option for them.

The most basic reason for this is that less than 10% of births are “high-risk” and require close supervision by a doctor. Midwives are trained healthcare professionals and are well-qualified to be the primary attendants at low-risk births (which, again, is most).

What Are All the Costs of a Home Birth?

Generally, three categories make up the cost of a birth:

  • prenatal care and your provider;
  • the required supplies, documentation, and newborn tests; and
  • any additional people you want at your birth.

Let’s look at each one and find out how much each will cost when we’re talking about a planned home birth.

Prenatal Care and Your Provider

Most likely, the biggest expense for a home birth will be paying your midwife. 

There are different types of midwives but if you hire a home birth midwife, she’ll probably be a certified professional midwife (CPM). A CPM is a midwife who doesn’t have a nursing background but who has gone through several years of training.

The cost of hiring a midwife differs based on where you live and the level of experience of the midwife. Generally, you can expect to pay somewhere between $3,000 and $7,000.

That may seem like a lot but for what it includes, that’s a pretty good price, especially if we’re looking at the low end. That couple thousand dollars usually includes all your prenatal care, your birth, and up to 6 weeks of postpartum care for you and your baby.

It is important to point out that ultrasounds and lab tests, like blood draws or testing for Group B Strep, are often not included in the midwife fee. (Sometimes they aren’t included in your OBGYN fee either.) That means you’ll be paying out of pocket for those, so be prepared.

Ultrasounds typically cost $100-$200 dollars. Lab test costs can vary but are often somewhere between $50-$150 each.

Finally, keep in mind that a home birth midwife may require payment upfront (during pregnancy rather than after the birth, like a hospital would). Make sure your finances can accommodate that.

Supplies, Documentation, and Testing

Birth requires a few supplies. The list of necessities for a home birth is pretty short but there are a lot of optional items you may want to have on hand, too.

You can find a full list of supplies you’ll want to have ready for your home birth in The Ultimate List of Home Birth Supplies.

To make things easier, many midwives will provide a home birth kit as part of the fee you already paid them. That kit will include things like plastic-backed absorbent pads, mesh underwear, sterile gloves, and cord clamps.

The only things I bought for my first birth (excluding postpartum and breastfeeding supplies) were a plastic shower curtain to protect my sheets in case I gave birth on the bed, a hose to drain the birth pool, and food to snack on during labor. That’s it!

I already had most of what I needed (like towels, bowls, and sheets) and my midwife provided the rest. My midwife also provided the birth pool; I paid her about $100 extra to rent it from her.

One cost most people don’t think about is birth certificates. (This is a cost you’ll have whether you give birth at home or not.) In the US, the cost of a birth certificate ranges from less than $10 to more than $30. It’s not a huge expense, but it’s a good thing to be aware of.

Finally, all newborns receive a screening test to check for conditions that can affect their long-term health or survival. In the US, the testing is mandatory and can only be refused on a religious basis.

In some states the screening is free. In others you may pay anywhere from $15-$150.

Additional People at Your Birth

Once you’ve added up the costs of prenatal care, your midwife, supplies, and testing, you can stop there. Or you can add in two more things: cost of a doula and cost of a birth photographer.

You don’t have to have a doula if you choose to do a home birth. But you can! I opted to have my husband be my “doula.” We took a Bradley Childbirth class together and he wanted to be as involved as possible with my birth experience, so that worked for us. Obviously, I didn’t have to pay him. 😉

If you do choose to hire a doula, whether as your only support person or in addition to your husband or partner, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. Like with a midwife, the cost of doula varies based on their experience and where you live. 

READ MORE >> What is a Doula?

When it comes birth photographers, you could have a friend do it for cheap or you can pay a professional who might charge thousands. Birth photography is a relatively new idea, so prices are pretty individual based on the photographer.

From what I’ve seen, fees for birth photographers start in the $1,000 range and can go up to the $5,000 range.

Home Birth and Insurance

Insurance is…not my favorite topic. It’s kind of a pain. But it’s a topic that needs to be addressed nonetheless.

You can expect insurance to significantly cut your costs if you give birth in the hospital. 

But what about if you give birth at home?

Because we live in a world (meaning country) of hospitals and big medical businesses, home birth – meaning, in this case, midwifery care – is not usually covered by insurance. For most people that’s not a big deal because, as we’ve already covered, home births and midwives aren’t too expensive.

If you are hoping for insurance to cover the cost of your midwife and home birth, though, be sure to ask about that when you meet with different midwives. Every midwife will have unique policies and different options for working with insurance so it will be a case-by-case thing.

It is important that I point out one somewhat unfortunate fact: if you have good insurance and, especially, if you’ve already met your deductible, a hospital birth may be cheaper. It may even be close to free. That’s great if you want a hospital birth. It’s just too bad that it can’t be that way with home births. 

So, in short, don’t plan on insurance covering any costs for your home births, but be sure to ask the midwives you meet with what their policies are.

What If I Transfer to the Hospital?

Occasionally, a woman planning a home birth transfers to the hospital in the middle of labor. If you were to transfer to the hospital before birth, for any reason, you would likely need to pay your midwife, the doctor, and the hospital.

Unfortunately, that would be expensive, but insurance would help with the cost of the hospital and doctor bills.

The Cost of a Childbirth Class

There is one final cost you should consider when planning a home birth: taking a childbirth class. Every woman would benefit from taking a childbirth class but it’s especially important for those planning an unmedicated birth.

I recommend The Bradley Method. It is one of three big-name natural childbirth classes and I think it is the best. I talk about all three in Choosing a Natural Childbirth Class: Comparing the Big 3.

Each Bradley teacher sets their own pricing but you can expect to pay $400-$500 for you and your husband or partner to take the class.

If you want to consider other childbirth classes, keep in mind that The Bradley Method is a 12-week comprehensive course. So while other classes may be cheaper, they also will be shorter and cover far less material.

It All Adds Up To This

So let’s add it all up.

Prenatal Care + Midwife Fee: $3,000–7,000

Ultrasounds + Lab Tests: ~$500

Supplies + Birth Certificate + Newborn Screening: ~$400

Doula (optional): $1,000–4,000

Photographer (optional): $1,000–5,000

Childbirth class: ~$500

Let’s say you choose not to hire a doula or a photographer. If that’s the case, you should expect to pay somewhere between $4,400 and $8,400 for your prenatal and postnatal care and your birth.

If you choose to hire a doula and a photographer, you’re looking at about $6,500 on the low end, with prices going up the more experience your midwife, doula, and photographer have.

For comparison, a hospital birth with insurance costs about $3,000. And you’ll probably pay your OBGYN another $3,000 or so. Plus, like I mentioned, ultrasounds and lab fees aren’t necessarily included in that OBGYN fee so you’ll have to add those on too.

So unless you’ve already met your deductible with your insurance (which means you’ve already paid them so much in the current year that they cover basically all your costs) a home birth is most likely going to be cheaper than a hospital birth.

And if not cheaper, it will probably be about the same price.

In the end, hopefully cost isn’t your deciding factor when it comes to your birth location and experience. But if it does play a big part in your decision, rest assured that a home birth is usually going to be the cheaper option.

To learn more about home births, check out Are Home Births Safe?.

Until next time,

Allison

Considering a Home Birth?

Are you on the fence about whether or not a home birth is the right choice for you? Then you need my FREE 6-question guide!

READ MORE:

How Much Do Midwives Cost?

How to Prepare for a Home Birth in 7 Steps

The Real Pros and Cons of Home Birth

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