SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — “Put it this way, if you can’t set back $400 a month for daycare, don’t have a kid.”
If you are a woman in Missouri, you make an average of $3,000 a month. Now let’s say you’re pregnant, and want to give birth in a hospital. It could cost you over $6,000.
And that’s not including pre and postnatal care.
Women in Springfield make an average of $42,293 a year, according to the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, meaning they only earn $3,524 per month.
As of December 2019, the average cost to have a baby in the US is $10,808.
According to the Business Insider, a natural birth in Missouri would cost $6,327 with insurance. Without, you’re looking at around $10,871.
Cheyenne Stevens gave birth to 7-month-old Cora at CoxHealth. She says before insurance, it would have cost her $6,700.
She was in the hospital for three days after a natural birth, and the hospital never told her how much it was costing her.
“They don’t tell you anything,” Cheyenne said. “They just ask if you have insurance and then they run it through the insurance and then you get a bill later on.”
Luckily, Cheyenne was covered by her regular insurance and Pregnancy Medicaid. Without Medicaid, she says they would have had to pay over $1,000 out of pocket.
She and her husband bring home roughly $2,000 a month.
She says it costs about $500 a month to keep up with Cora’s diapers, formula, wipes and other needs.
“If you are not steadily financially prepared to put money back for it, I don’t recommend it,” Cheyenne said.
On top of the extra costs a child brings, some companies do not offer paid leave.
Wendy Doyle, CEO and president of the Women’s Foundation, says the United States is the only industrialized nation without a federal policy detailing paid family or medical leave.
“We believe strongly in this because we did a focus group and listening sessions around the state of Missouri with women of all income levels, as well as men, and this was a key core issue that we heard loud and clear,” Doyle said. “The opportunity to take time off for the birth or adoption of a child, but also caring for aging family members, is a priority for Missourians.”
Doyle says there is not a statewide law requiring paid family leave, however, the most common policy in Missouri is six weeks off for the birth or adoption of a child for a primary caregiver and three weeks off for a secondary caregiver.
“We are starting to see that a law isn’t required, but corporations are stepping up and knowing that this is an important benefit that is going to impact the profitability of the company,” Doyle said.
She says paid leave is important for the beginning of a child’s life and it boosts employee morale when people know they can take time off and still have a job.
“This is a policy for everyone that we heard loud and clear across the board regardless of income level that a paid family leave is the right thing to do,” Doyle said.
Whether it is due to the cost or other factors, fewer babies are being born in Missouri. The Missouri Department of health’s latest records are from 2018, stating there were 73,000 births that year, a slight decline from previous years.
Whatever the statistics are, if you ask a loving mother, she will say it’s worth it.