(WALLETHUB.com) – What should you expect when you’re expecting? Besides possibly the greatest joy of your life, you can expect to take a big hit to your wallet because having a baby is expensive. Between one-time expenses such as a crib and stroller and ongoing costs that include diapers and formula — not to mention unexpected financial emergencies — it’s easy to exceed even the most immaculately conceived budget.
One important expense to keep in mind is medical and hospital bills. According to the International Federation of Health Plans, Americans pay the highest birthing costs in the world, with the price tag of normal delivery averaging $10,808. A C-section goes up by another $5,298. Without maternity health coverage, including Medicaid, you can expect those prices to double or even triple.
Birthing costs, however, can vary significantly from state to state, considering the wide disparities in cost of living. They can also differ from one pregnancy to another, given that some women experience delivery complications that could bump up the expense. But there’s quality of health care service to consider as well, and no two maternity environments are created equal.
To determine the most ideal places in the U.S. to have a baby, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 20 key measures of cost, health care accessibility, as well as baby- and family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from hospital conventional-delivery charges to annual average infant-care costs to pediatricians per capita. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.