At the turn of the 20th century, having a baby was dangerous, but not all that expensive: Women simply hired a midwife for a couple of dollars and prayed they wouldn't die on the kitchen table.
Add another $8,800 to those two dollars and you get today's average cost of giving birth, according to a study released Tuesday by the March of Dimes.
Nationally, a vaginal delivery cost $7,737, with caesarean sections averaging $10,958.
Researchers examined insurance claims in 2004 for more than 43,000 deliveries, including prenatal care, delivery and newborn health care for three months after birth. The women studied had traditional employer-provided health insurance rather than HMO insurance and were not covered by government programs such as Medi-Cal.
It's important to study childbirth costs because pregnancy and childbirth account for nearly a quarter of all hospitalizations in the United States, the researchers say.
The researchers found that insurers covered most of the cost of childbirth, with the women paying an average of $463 out-of-pocket for vaginal deliveries and $523 for C-sections. Many consumers, however, report that their out-of-pocket costs are higher, depending on the care they receive and type of insurance they have.