What does a healthcare during pregnancy, labor and delivery look like in the USA and how much it costs?

This time I’m going to tell you more or less how my medical care looked like here in the States from the very beginning to after I gave birth, how many visits I had, what kinds of tests, how they took care of me and how much it all cost. Everything looks very similar or the same in other hospitals in the country but I need you to remember that in this post I’m talking about my own experience only (unless I say differently) from the hospital in Fayetteville, Georgia, and it can be different than yours or the ones you heard about.

During pregnancy

The day after I saw a positive pregnancy test (Friday) I called to my obgyn and asked what I should do now. They told me that the first official visit should happen at 10th week of pregnancy but if I wanted I was free to make an appointment earlier to confirm that my test didn’t make a mistake. So I did and I went for my first visit on Tuesday the following week. I saw my baby for the first time then! Nathan said that April looked like a shrimp ;).

In total I had 13 check ups – 5 every week, then 5 every other week and at the end 3 every week. During this time I had 3 ultrasounds. Before each appointment they checked my urine for protein. Also, they checked my weight, blood pressure and April’s heartbeat and later the size of my belly. They took my blood 4 times (I hope I remember correctly) but one of them was because I asked for it and they checked vitamins D and B12 as an extra and so I had to pay for this because it wasn’t necessary. At 35th week I had a strap B test done. All these visits and tests were performed as their timetable says and insurance covered that, unless I said differently. I decided to have a 3D/4D ultrasound as well and I paid for this separately because it’s completely optional.

In that place pregnant women are priority so if a new patient calls to schedule an appointment she has to wait let’s say a month but I could easily have a check-up visit in a week.

On the first visit I received a bag with all kinds of different books about pregnancy. How to take care of myself, how baby grows, what happens with my body and so on. They gave me some vitamins too and there was something else but I don’t remember what.

I had most of the visits with my obgyn and later I switched 3 times to meet other doctors. They always do it there so that patients can know everyone because you never know when you’ll give birth and which doctor will be on call. My doctor’s office is in the hospital where I gave birth.

They value natural births so they recommend staying at home as long as possible unless water doesn’t break or there’s no other contraindication. A woman can decide about pretty much everything starting from the light in her room, through who will be there with her, ending with a position she’ll deliver her baby and so on (some time ago I posted here a post with my birth plan, feel invited to check it out).

After admitted in the hospital

You can register in the hospital even during your second trimester and this is a great solution because then you can relax and you don’t have to worry about it at the last moment. Also you don’t waste your time later when you get to the hospital because you just need to show them your ID and your insurance card and that’s all, everything else is in their system. I didn’t even have to wait for them to give me back my ID because nurse showed us to our room and they brought our documents when they were done checking our information.

During the whole labor someone from the staff was almost always in the room. I’m saying almost because it happened that sometimes it’d be just me, Nathan and our photographer but it wasn’t a problem. They were controlling my health and my baby’s health as well. Nurses asked if they could check how dilated I was and she didn’t have any problem with me saying no. The atmosphere was friendly, I didn’t feel like anyone was in a rush or stressed, or anything.

After I gave birth

Nurse was coming back to check my blood pressure and ask how I feel, I don’t remember how often. I know that they were coming at night too and it was annoying because I don’t think that checking my blood pressure every minute was really necessary.

I had to breastfeed April every two hours. She had basic tests done, like hearing exam that she slept through. They didn’t bother her with anything else and she was with us from the very beginning. When they took her to do some tests, me and Nathan went there as well. Almost 24 hours after she was born they checked her weight again.

Nurse wanted me to pee within 6 hours after birth but she didn’t force me to do anything. And I heard a story of a girl in one of the Polish hospitals that her nurse almost dragged her off her bed… What I heard was that when I’m ready to get up, just let her know and she’ll help.

Nathan could stay with me the whole time, the same with a photographer. Nate could also stay during my whole hospital stay, together with nights. Rules out there say that during labor and delivery children of a couple are allowed to be in the room as well but there has to be someone else too to take care of them in case something happens.

In the morning the next day my doctor came and said I could go home if I wanted to or I could stay one more night. Everything was fine with me and April so I decided to go home exactly 24 hours after her birth.

Food was pretty good too. After delivery I got lunch, then dinner. Nate went to buy a pizza later too. The next day breakfast and lunch. We could choose what we wanted from their menu and call from a phone available in our room.

Lactation consultant came to us right after I got to a recovery room. She asked a few questions, answered my questions and whenever we needed her we could call and she would come back immediately. Later they would change shifts but all of them were patient and they talked about everything with details, not being in a rush whatsoever.

Nurses were very helpful and nice too. I couldn’t say a bad word about them.

They gave us a form to fill in to create April’s birth certificate, then we gave it to one of the nurses and she sent it to a right place. Not that long ago we went to a probate court to pick it up ($25 for the first copy, next ones $5 for each).

When we were leaving the hospital they checked our hand bands to make sure that April is our child ;). The nurse came to us one more time to tell me what I should do now, how everything goes, what to expect, etc. I got TONS of folders with information about how to take care of myself, of my baby, when to seek help, what to eat while breastfeeding and so on. They also checked April in our car seat to make sure we know how to buckle her and that everything is in a right way. After all that I could sit on a huge wheelchair with April in my arms, Nathan besides us and a paramedic exported us outside. At first I wanted to walk but I was told that from that place to the exit there’s a long walk so better not. And then while I was on the wheelchair I became aware that I wouldn’t be able to walk that far.

After I got home

One of the nurses called me three or four days after I got home to ask if everything is fine, how’s the baby and all that. Before I left the hospital they asked if it was okay with me if someone called.

My postpartum check up was 4 weeks after the birth. The next one will be 6 months after the first.

Prices

At first I want to say that the amount of money you have to pay can vary. It all depends on the state where you live, hospital, doctor, your labor, used medicines, etc. If someone scares to that if you want to have a baby you need to be prepared for a bill for $500.000 or even a million dollars, don’t be attached to this too much. Of course you could get a bill like that but you’d have to have some huge complications and stay at the hospital for a long time. If everything is fine there’s no way you’d have to have such a high bill. Even if you have an emergency c-section.

Anyways, my labor and delivery was easy and fast, as you know.

The bill from the hospital was for around $11.900. The insurance company negotiated with the hospital a little bit and got some discounts so our final bill was for around $7.600 of which $5.200 was for my hospital stay only together with the time before I got admitted when I went there to get checked. The rest is for medications (ibuprofen, for example), April’s tests. According to our insurance plan we had to pay $4.000.

My whole medical care during pregnancy together with tests and things like that was around $2.000. If I remember correctly, we didn’t have to pay that.

So to summarize, I score my experience with medical care from the very beginning to the very end for 11 in a 1-10 scale :).

If you have any questions, feel free to leave comments!

Talk to you next time,

Aga

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