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What Are The Best & Worst States To Have A Baby In 2022? WalletHub’s Annual Report Is Here

Did you know where you live can greatly impact your pregnancy, delivery, and new parenting experience? Here's what studies show.

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Where you bring home your baby — as in, the US state you call home — can impact you and your child's...

The secret is out: Having a baby isn't always as fun as it seems in movies. Experiencing pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood may be one of the greatest gifts we're given, but it's also really stressful and overwhelming. First, it's expensive. From the possible costs of fertility plans to the labor and delivery bills, straight down to the sheer amount of money you'll spend on diapers, nothing about having a baby is cheap. Having a baby also takes a toll on your health. Barfing all day? It happens. Heartburn so bad you worry you might scar your esophagus? A valid fear. Pregnant people have to worry about added high blood pressure and possible diabetes. You're creating life inside you, so you're always tired. And you're not even allowed to have coffee?! Throw in inflation, violence, and a global pandemic, and suddenly having a baby feels like the newest thing for you to lose hair and sleep over.

Deep breath. On the bright side, you might be living in a state where having a baby doesn't have to come with a debt that feels like concrete boots. You may even live in an area where people trust science and where COVID-19 is no longer raging and wreaking havoc on the community (COVID made staying healthy during pregnancy so much harder).

How do you know if you're in a "good" state to give birth, though? Personal finance website WalletHub just released its annual report on 2022's best and worst states to have a baby. And, hey, depending on where you’re at in your pregnancy journey, you might even have time to make some bold location changes before the big day arrives.

The Best States to Have a Baby

What makes a state good for having a baby? WalletHub considered various factors, from cost (the average birth will likely set you back over $3000, even with insurance), healthcare, and baby- and family-friendliness. They factored in everything from average birth weights to infant and maternal mortality rates. They even looked at the cost of babysitters and current Medicaid expansions.

How did Massachusetts end up in first place, for instance? They're actually in 34th place in the cost category — it's expensive to have a baby in Massachusetts. The state does, however, have excellent hospital and health rankings and is very baby- and family-friendly, thanks to its number of childcare families, mom grounds, and parental leave policies.

1. Massachusetts

2. Vermont

3. Minnesota

4. New Hampshire

5. Rhode Island

6. Connecticut

7. North Dakota

8. Washington

9. Iowa

10. Utah

The Worst States to Have a Baby

Filling out the bottom of the list of states (and the District of Columbia) were states where birthing costs were expensive, and there may not have been much help for babies and mamas after delivery. What makes South Carolina so bad for having a baby? It was rated in the bottom 40 in all categories: baby- and family-friendliness, cost, and healthcare. There wasn't a category with better success to help bump it higher on the list. The same is true for Alabama.

42. Nevada

43. West Virginia

44. Oklahoma

45. Arkansas

46. Florida

47. Georgia

48. Louisiana

49. Mississippi

50. Alabama

51. South Carolina

The Deciding Factors for Ranking States

WalletHub offers an all-encompassing look in their studies, and this one proved no different. For instance, when looking at the cost of labor and delivery, they took both Cesarean and conventional delivery costs into account separately instead of averaging between the two. They also looked at not just the cost of babysitting but also the cost of early childcare. When it came to factoring in healthcare items, they looked at not just infant and maternal mortality rates but also birth weights, preterm deliveries — even COVID vaccination rates.

Why is the latter important? There is a ton of evidence-based data available from the CDC that says COVID puts pregnant moms and babies at higher risk, meaning vaccines are an effective way to keep everyone safe. So knowing you're getting pregnant, carrying your baby, and then raising your baby in a community where people get the jab to protect you is vital.

When You Can't Move to a Better State

Not everyone can pick up and make an exodus from South Carolina to Massachusetts. There are ways to help ensure a better experience when having a baby in a lower-ranked area, though. In fact, according to Steven Meyers, Ph.D., ABPP, the Professor and Chair of Psychology at Roosevelt University, the best thing you can do is look to solutions.

“The biggest financial mistake that prospective parents make is planning avoidance. Many families are anxious or intimidated when it comes to budgeting or financial planning with the addition of children. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, they avoid thinking about these challenges, or maybe they assume that things will just work out. A lot of these planning mistakes vary as a function of family income and savings,” says Meyers. “At the lower end of the economic ladder, it is important to understand that about 17% of children in the United States are now at or below the poverty line. Planning for lower-income families becomes a high-stakes proposition for accessing the support of family members and access to programs and services to offset costs. Planning is also important for families with greater income and wealth, but the focus shifts to managing cash flow for the additional costs and having a longer-term horizon for major expenses, such as a college education.”

So, what can you do now? Shopping for the best insurance before you're pregnant is one step. Carefully considering parental leave packages before you accept a new job can also help. If at all possible, stay close to friends or family you can rely on for child care help or look into neighborhoods with multiple options. Know signs of medical gaslighting, never be afraid to look for a second opinion or new doctor, and take those prenatal vitamins.

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