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How Much Do Midwives Cost?

If you’re wondering how much midwives cost, you’ve come to the right place. Birth costs can be pretty confusing, so I’ve broken down how much you’ll pay your midwife, what that includes and doesn’t include, and what other costs to expect.

woman paying at doctors office

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As nice as it would be, having a baby isn’t free. No matter where or with whom you give birth, you’ll have costs associated with that birth.

Unfortunately, it can be pretty tricky to figure out exactly how much you’re going to have to pay.

Hospitals are vague and almost never give out real numbers. And most OBGYNs and midwives don’t publish their pricing structure online. So a lot of women just end up finding out what birth cost them after the fact.

If you’re like me, that just won’t cut it. 

I already have a post all about how much a home birth costs, and today we’re going to cover how much midwives cost.

What Kind of Midwife?

The first thing to point out is that there are actually 4 different kinds of midwives:

  • certified nurse-midwives, 
  • certified professional midwives, 
  • certified midwives, and 
  • lay midwives.

I explain each in depth in So You Want a Midwife…What Kind?.

Put simply, certified nurse-midwives (CNM) and certified midwives (CM) (yes, they’re different) are pretty similar to OBGYNs in how they practice and what they cost. You’ll often find CNMs and CMs working alongside OBGYNs in a typical doctors’ office. And they usually attend births in the hospital.

Certified professional midwives and lay midwives are usually self-employed and attend births in birth centers or in homes. 

Cost Structure by Type of Midwife

If you choose a CNM who works in a clinic, you will likely pay what’s called a “global fee,” as you would with an OBGYN. This global fee will cover all your prenatal appointments as well as the day of birth and, typically, a 6-week postpartum visit. 

The amount of that global fee depends on your insurance and, even more, where you live (more on that later).

If you choose a certified professional midwife (CPM) or a lay midwife, the pricing will depend on her. She will decide how much to charge and what to include in that fee. Often, a midwife’s fee includes prenatal care, the time of labor and birth, and a few appointments postpartum for both you and your baby. 

Many insurance companies will not cover a home birth, so if you are hiring a midwife for a planned home birth, be sure to factor that in.

Where Will You Give Birth?

The second thing that affects how much your birth with a midwife costs is where you give birth. The cost of where you give birth isn’t directly related to the cost of a midwife but it is connected. 

Like I said, most CNMs attend births in the hospital. And the cost of a hospital birth is quite different from the cost of a home birth. So your total birth cost with a CNM will be different from your total birth cost with a CPM.

That difference is hard to pin down though, hence the intro to this blog post.

Sometimes giving birth in the hospital is the cheapest option. That could be because you live in a place where hospitals charge less. It could also be because you have good insurance or because you’ve already met your insurance deductible for the year.

Without insurance, however, hospitals are FAR more expensive.

Even with insurance, though, if you find a CPM who’s pricing is on the low end of average, you may find that it’s cheaper to do a home birth with a midwife.

The important thing to recognize about a hospital birth with a CNM is that all hospital costs are separate from the amount you paid your midwife (or OBGYN, for that matter).

You pay the global fee for the work the midwife does. But then you have to pay another sum for everything you and your baby use in the hospital. That can add up quick.

How Much Do Midwives Really Cost?

Now that we’ve established how thoroughly bewildering birth costs are in the US, let’s get to some real numbers.

Generally speaking, a midwife in the US costs between $2,000 and $9,000. That’s a big range, obviously. Most women pay closer to the $3,000-6,000 range. 

With that in mind, let’s dig into why the price can vary so much, what’s included (and not included) in that price, and what other costs you’ll need to plan for.

Why Midwife Costs Can Vary So Much

The two biggest reasons for variation in how much midwives (and OBGYNs) cost are 1) location and 2) experience.

According to the Health Care Cost Institute, women in the US pay $3,500 on average for their births. Obviously, an average means some pay more than that and some pay less. BUT in some states, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, that price is only $1,000. That’s a huge difference!

The reason for the difference is likely due to inconsistent negotiations between insurance companies and healthcare providers.

Another problem is that women don’t “shop around” for the best-priced hospital like they do for other things. Understandably, most women just choose the hospital that is closest to them that their insurance covers. And that makes it easier for hospitals to increase prices even if a hospital somewhere far away charges less.

Aside from the pricing issues, each midwife has a different level of experience and that affects how much she charges. That’s especially true for CPMs and lay midwives who aren’t functioning within the structure of a clinic and the healthcare system. 

What’s Included (and Not Included) in the Cost of a Midwife

As I mentioned earlier, a midwife’s fee usually includes prenatal care, the time of labor and birth, and postpartum care up to 6 weeks. Many midwives also provide a birth kit to their clients as part of that fee.

Keep in mind, you’re also paying your midwife to be on call for as much as a month around your estimated due date which is worth a lot.

Also, midwifery care generally means you’re receiving nutritional and other education, more so than with an OBGYN. In addition to that, some midwives provide a library of books and other resources you can use during your care with them.

Though “prenatal care” is part of what you’re paying for, that usually doesn’t include ultrasounds or lab fees (like getting blood work or other tests done).

Sometimes insurance will cover the cost of lab work even if your midwife isn’t covered by insurance. Most of the time, ultrasounds won’t be covered and you’ll have to pay for them yourself.

Ultrasounds typically cost $100-200 dollars. Lab test costs can vary but are often somewhere between $50-150 each. Overall, you should expect to pay about $500 for lab tests and ultrasounds combined.

Other Costs to Plan For

In addition to paying your midwife and covering the costs of ultrasounds and lab tests, you’ll also want to keep in mind a few other expenses.

First, you’ll need a few supplies if you’re planning a home birth. The list of necessities 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 what you might need in The Ultimate List of Home Birth Supplies.

Second, you’ll need to pay for a birth certificate. 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.

Third, if you have a home birth, you will be responsible to pay for the newborn screening test. In some states, this test is mandatory. The test requires a heel prick so that blood can be collected and tested for conditions that can affect your baby’s long-term health or survival.

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

Finally, you have a few optional costs to consider. Do you want to hire a doula? What about a birth photographer? And do you want to take a childbirth class

None of those is directly related to how much midwives cost but, again, will affect your total birth cost.

TL;DR

So how much do midwives cost? That depends.

It depends on where you live, how much experience your midwife has, what kind of midwife you hire, and where you give birth. Plus, it’s important to consider additional costs like ultrasounds and if you want to hire a doula. 

Generally, you can expect to pay somewhere between $3,000 and $6,000 for the services of a midwife.

Don’t get too scared of that number, though. You’d likely pay something similar for birth in the hospital.

If money is tight, ask your midwife if she accepts payment-in-kind, meaning you could “pay” in goods or trade work.

And remember, even if it costs more than you would like, the kind of care you get during pregnancy and birth matters for you and your baby, now and for the rest of your life. That’s worth the cost.

Until next time,

Allison

READ MORE:

How Much Does a Home Birth Cost?

What Makes Midwives and OBGYNS So Different

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