Having a baby in the USA

Pregnant woman
Updated 2023-10-01 16:36

If you want to have a baby while in the United States, you'll be pleased to know that not being a citizen or a resident will not put you at any disadvantage. Your residency status does not make a big difference legally when giving birth in the US. Moreover, if your baby is born within the United States, your child automatically has the right to US citizenship. This means they can later go to sponsor your move to the country on a family-based Green Card. If you are embarking on the great adventure of having a baby, then it's important to understand the intricacies of birth in the US, as well as any related costs and formalities.

Healthcare system and insurance in the USA

As you might be aware, the healthcare system in the USA can be quite complex and expensive. It's important to have health insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth, as medical costs associated with giving birth can be significant. Giving birth is a life-changing moment, and you do not want to be worried about the bill you might be receiving rather than the powerful experience of meeting your new baby.

You will have the option of choosing between an obstetrician (OB-GYN) or a midwife for prenatal care and childbirth. Obstetricians are medical doctors who specialize in pregnancy and childbirth, while midwives are trained professionals who provide personalized care and support during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Both options have their benefits, and it's important to research and choose the one that aligns with your preferences and needs. If you have a difficult or complex pregnancy, it will likely be necessary to have an OB-GYN and opt for a hospital birth, as you will be at risk of complications.

Midwives in the USA

Midwives in the USA can be certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) or certified professional midwives (CPMs). CNMs have nursing and midwifery training and can provide care in various settings, including clinics and hospitals. CPMs often work in home or birth centre settings and typically have midwifery-specific training.

Birth setting in the USA

You can choose to give birth in a hospital, a birthing centre, or at home, depending on your preferences and the level of medical support you desire. As you would expect, hospitals offer comprehensive medical care and a full range of medical interventions, while birthing centres provide a more homelike environment with midwifery care and minimal interventions.

Prenatal care in the USA

Regular prenatal check-ups are important for monitoring your health and the health of your baby. Both OB-GYNs and midwives can provide prenatal care, but on the whole, midwives often offer a more personalized and holistic approach. There are also other things mothers-to-be can do to improve their birthing experience, like pre-natal yoga and hypnobirthing.

Cost of giving birth in the USA

The cost of childbirth in the United States can be a significant financial burden, particularly for those without insurance. The average cost for an uncomplicated birth can range from $13,000 to $14,000, but this figure can dramatically increase if complications arise. According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the median charges for childbirth hospital stays include $13,524 for maternal care and $3,660 for newborn care, totalling $16,884.

The cost can also vary depending on the type of delivery. For instance, a vaginal birth with no complications averages around $10,958; while a cesarean section without complications can cost up to $18,570. However, these costs can fluctuate widely across different hospitals and states. In California, for example, the cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth can range from $3,296 to $37,227; while cesarean sections can cost anywhere from $8,312 to almost $71,000.

Out-of-pocket expenses also play a significant role in the overall cost of childbirth. On average, out-of-pocket spending for a vaginal delivery is $2,655; compared to $3,214 for cesarean births. However, these costs can be significantly reduced with health insurance coverage.

The state in which you choose to have your baby can also impact the cost of childbirth. Massachusetts has been ranked as the best state to have a baby, receiving high marks for healthcare, family friendliness, and parental leave policy. Other top-ranking states include Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Conversely, Alabama was ranked as the worst state to have a baby due to its high costs and low scores in healthcare, baby-friendliness, and family-friendliness.

For those considering alternative delivery methods such as home births, it's important to note that these are often not fully covered by insurance companies. The average cost of a home birth in the United States is $4,650, but this can vary depending on the state.

If you don't have health insurance in the United States, you must pay the total amount for all related medical costs. Some hospitals do have payment plans for situations like this, and, in some cases, you may qualify for uninsured patient discounts.

The benefits of giving birth in the United States

As we've mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don't need to be a US citizen or resident to give birth in the United States. Regardless of your residency status, your child will have the right to US citizenship – which is one of the primary reasons why expats may choose to have their child born in the US.

Moreover, once your child turns 21, you and your other close relatives will become eligible for permanent residence in the United States. US citizens can sponsor their immediate relatives to obtain family-based Green Cards – and it's a common practice for US citizens to move their entire families to the country.

Good to know:

Because of the above-mentioned benefits associated with giving birth in the US, birth tourism (travelling to the US with the intent to have a baby) is quite common.

Note that even after you become a parent of a US citizen, you will not be able to apply for a family-based Green Card until your child turns 21 and can sponsor your visa application. In the meantime, you must ensure that your stay in the country is lawful and obtain the appropriate visa.

Good to know:

While it is perfectly legal for pregnant women to enter the US, note that you may be asked additional questions regarding the purpose of your trip. You may also be asked to show your health insurance documentation and for proof of funds to cover medical costs if you do give birth in the United States.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.