When you’re expecting a baby, you plan everything. You set up your prenatal check-ups, you design a soothing nursery guaranteed to help baby sleep, maybe you take Lamaze classes and fill every closet in the house with diapers. But nothing can quite prepare you for the medical bills.
Between health insurance premiums, specialized testing, epidurals and unexpected treatments and procedures, the cost of having a baby is a universal reality.
But in some countries, charges are significantly less for maternity care than in others. Some offset the cost with government-backed benefits, such as three years of paid leave or a monthly allowance.
Do you know how your country stacks up? Chicago-based Coyne College used data from 2011 through 2015 to map the cost of childbirth in numerous countries (more data is given for some countries than others). Coyne offers programs in trades skills, healthcare services, court reporting and other areas of career preparation.
Here’s what it costs to have a baby in 20 countries around the world.
Average cost for delivery: $61,810
Japan may be the costliest country for delivering a baby, but it has the lowest newborn mortality rate across the entire globe.
There, only 1 in 1,111 infants fail to survive the first month. UNICEF suggests that, globally, high-income countries have lower mortality rates.
2. Hong Kong
Average cost for a normal delivery: $12,172
Average cost for a cesarean section: $15,866
Hong Kong’s fertility rates have shown a declining trend for decades, ranking its rate the fourth-lowest in the world.
As a result, Hong Kong residents are not reproducing fast enough to replace its population, leading to social and economic problems such as a shrinking workforce and fewer taxpayers to support public finances.
However, the lower birth rate does not equate to a lower cost of delivering a baby.
3. United States
Average cost for a normal delivery: $10,808
Average cost for a C-section: $16,106
The United States is not only an expensive place to have a baby, but it also can be a tough one for working mothers. The U.S. the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee paid family leave.
Some states have passed family leave laws. Those include California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. But no law has been passed at the federal level, yet.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $8,045
Average cost for a C-section: $10,195
The cost of childbirth in Singapore may be slightly offset by financial benefits in the island city state’s Marriage and Parenthood Package.
This “pro-family” program implemented by the government in 2001 encourages more Singaporeans to marry and have children by granting parents government-paid leave, a cash bonus and a special savings account that comes with a government match.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $7,751
Average cost for a C-section: $9,965
Switzerland’s mandatory health insurance (MHI) policy was intended to make quality medical care accessible to all Swiss residents.
Although premiums are increasing quickly, the maternity coverage is substantial. All delivery-related costs are included. Mothers are entitled to a weeklong post-delivery hospital stay.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $5,312
Average cost for a C-section: $7,901
Australian researchers recently conducted a nation-wide, 12-year study that concluded home births are a safe option for low-risk women.
In fact, the odds of normal labor and birth were nearly six times as high in planned home births compared with planned hospital deliveries. That being said, the total number of planned home births included in the study was small — only 0.7% of more than 1.25 million pregnancies.
7. United Kingdom
Average cost for a delivery: $4,609
If you’re considered “ordinarily resident” in the U.K. — which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — you’re entitled to free maternity care.
The National Health Service (NHS) provides free prenatal, birth and post-natal care to all its expecting female citizens. Residents who are living lawfully and “settled” in U.K. countries may be eligible.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $3,589
Average cost for a C-section: $3,589
After Chile doubled its paid maternity leave policy from 12 to 24 weeks, a study reviewed the effects of this reform and discovered many positive benefits.
“… the short term effects of maternity leave are positive and significant for cognitive skills, especially for children whose mothers are less educated.”
It also found that mothers who took more paid leave breastfed their children longer and experienced less stress.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $3,195
Average cost for a C-section: $5,980
When it comes to giving birth, Canada is easy on the wallet and friendly to foreigners.
Through the Interim Federal Health Program, pregnant refugees coming to Canada for resettlement are provided access to pre- and postnatal services. The coverage is temporary and may be limited, but having the right care can make a world of difference.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $2,932
Average cost for a C-section: $3,207
Compared with nearby Singapore, the cost of delivering a baby in Indonesia is surprisingly affordable.
Indonesians are no longer having as many children as they did 40 years ago. The country’s birth rate has dropped significantly, to 18.1 births per 1,000 people in 2018 from 40.6 per 1,000 in 1969.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $2,824
Average cost for a C-section: $5,492
Children don’t come with a handbook, but in the Netherlands, they do come with a maternity assistant.
Every parent is entitled to a week of postnatal care by a kraamverzorgster, or maternity assistant. This person comes to your home to offer guidance, support your recovery and even check off a few house chores.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $2,536
Average cost for a C-section: $4,625
For the first five months of pregnancy, French women are reimbursed by the state health care system for roughly 70% of their medical costs.
After that fifth month, 100% of all medical costs are covered by the French state. This includes general health visits as well as pregnancy-related expenses and even health care for other children in your charge under 6 years of age.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $2,237
Average cost for a C-section: $2,972
With financial support from the World Bank, the government of Argentina was able to develop and implement a scalable health care program specifically focused on maternal-child health care.
Plan Nacer, now known as Program Sumar, has reached nearly 9 million women and children and has become a model in Latin America for providing health care to its least fortunate citizens.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $2,157
Average cost for a C-section: $3,441
German parents-to-be enjoy a generous leave from work, plus parental allowance. Mothers are allowed six weeks’ leave before delivering a child and eight weeks after. They receive about 13 euros a day (about $14 U.S. dollars) and about 65% of the pay from their most-recent job, according to Business Insider.
After that, up to three years of parental leave is allowed, with one year compensated at the rate of 60% and the others uncompensated. About 43% of women return to work after two years of leave, BI says.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $2,122
Average cost for a C-section: $3,150
In February 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law that extends paid maternity leave for the Philippines.
The new law gives parents 105 days of paid time off instead of the previous 60, with the option to take an additional 30 days without pay. It also gives single parents an additional 15 days of paid leave.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $1,967
Average cost for a C-section: $2,164
India’s Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill updated the original Maternity Benefit Act of 1961. Instead of the previous 12 weeks of maternity leave, expectant parents can now take 26 weeks.
Among other new provisions, the maternity benefit now is available for the adoption of a child younger than 3 months and for mothers who work from home.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $1,950
Average cost for a C-section: $2,352
Compared with its nearby European neighbors, Spain is an affordable place to have a baby. Spain is especially generous to its working mothers.
If you experience issues during pregnancy or breastfeeding that force you to stop working, you may be eligible for government support.
Average cost for a delivery: $950-$1,950
Supported by the Social Insurance Fund, Russian parents are eligible to receive a monthly allowance for childcare.
In January 2019, the maximum monthly amount increased from 24,000 to 26,000 rubles, or about $408 U.S. dollars. This is on top of any “early stages” benefit you might earn or additional support given to children of active soldiers.
Average cost for a normal delivery: $1,837
Average cost for a C-section: $2,293
Thailand has a universal health system, and the publicly subsidized plan includes maternity care.
Parents also can purchase a separate maternity insurance policy that covers prenatal tests and check-ups, labor and delivery, and possible complications.
20. South Africa
Average cost for a normal delivery: $1,271
Average cost for a C-section: $2,192
South Africa may be the least-expensive country for a normal delivery, but many women are bypassing that route.
Discovery Health Medical Scheme, one of the country’s larger nonprofit medical plans, recently reported that 74% of its delivering mothers opt for a cesarean section — about three times the average rate at most South African public hospitals, Business Insider reports. South African doctors’ fears of lawsuit is blamed for the high rate of C-section births, the report says.
How do these costs for childbirth around the world compare with your own experience? Tell us in a comment below or at Money Talks News on Facebook.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.