The cost of a baby in Antigua – Conception to birth

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Having a baby can bring one of the greatest joys in life as a healthy, happy child is the delight of any parent, whether it’s a boy or a girl. From the thoughts of a new addition to the family to shopping for those “little cute clothes”, many look forward to that “added meaning” to their lives.
“When I found out that I was pregnant, I was shocked as I wasn’t expecting it, but then I got really happy and excited to know I am expecting”, said a first-time mother.
She added, however, that “never in my wildest dreams,” the thought of spending so much money before the baby arrived crossed my mind.
In this the first in our two part feature on the “Cost of a baby in Antigua”, we will be reviewing how much the average parent spends, from conception to birth for both private and public care.
According to one gynecologist/obstetrician, “having a baby is a very expensive undertaking” but sadly, the average parent does not give much consideration to how much they will need to spend.
“Honestly, I don’t get the impression that is one of the greatest consideration of the average parent today. Let’s say they have three children already, you would believe that they would be cautious and try to prevent a fourth because they are worried about how they will be taking care of these little ones. No, they are still coming back at four and five children. So, even if they are concerned about the cost, it is not a deterrent”, said the gynecologist/obstetrician who works at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC).
She added there are those, who are overly concerned, and will ask for their tubes to tied after two children but the vast majority are not of that frame of mind.
OBSERVER media, got reactions from a number of mothers on how much they spend during their pregnancies, and they all said, “having a baby is not cheap.”
One of the mothers who gave birth last year, said that she spent close to $20,000, others said they have spent even more because of complications.
If you think they are exaggerating, let’s break it down for you.
“Nearly half of the women who get pregnant in Antigua, have opted to go to private doctors for prenatal care,” said a midwife who works at one of the local clinics.
She told OBSERVER media, that’s where most of the money spending takes place.
“If they come to the clinic, they will only need to spend money to do the standard tests most of which can be done at the hospital, at least one ultra sound and their delivery fee,” she added.
“If women attend local clinics, they may not need to spend more than $500 for pregnancies without complications.”
However, the mothers have argued that going to the clinics “take all day, the benches are uncomfortable and the bathrooms are not pregnant-women friendly”.
“I went to a private doctor for my prenatal care because it is much more convenient. I work and I cannot take a day-off every time I have to go to clinic. So, with the private doctor I can easily work my schedule around my appointments,” one of the mother said.
The cost of a prenatal visit at a private doctor ranges from $450 to $700 for the first visit, then $180 to $250 for every visit thereafter. Pregnant women are required to do one visit per month for the first 28 weeks of their pregnancy, two visits per month from 28 – 36 weeks, then weekly until they have given birth which may go up to 42 weeks. That’s a total of $3,330 to $4,450.
In addition, there are a number of standard urine and blood tests that pregnant women are required to do to ensure that they have a healthy baby some of which are repeated throughout the pregnancy, said an obstetrician.
“We need to know their blood type, iron level, blood glucose level, Rh factor, HIV status, among others,” he added. On average, pregnant women said they spent about $400 for blood and urine tests throughout their pregnancy.
“There are also vitamins costs which are between $30 and $45 and one last for a month,” said one of the mothers. “Not to mention the maternity clothes,” another added. “What I did was just buy one set of clothes for work and a set to wear when I am going out and allow my belly to grow in them. That came to about $400.”
Most mothers said they have spent on average about $2,500 on getting the first set of essentials for their baby and themselves for the days immediately after they have given birth. And finally, the delivery cost.
According to a billing clerk at the MSJMC, when a woman comes in to register for delivery if she has a Medical Benefit card, she is required to pay a deposit of $500 for a normal delivery, or $750 for a Cesarean-section (Csection).
The billing clerk further disclosed that the cost may increase based on how the delivery went. “Let’s say you come in for a vaginal delivery [and] you had a laceration, they need to suture that, or need to give you oxytocin and so on. All these things may change the cost. So, at the bottom line, on average, vaginal delivery could go up to $1,000 and C-section about $2,000 with their Medical Benefits card. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it is less. “If they don’t have a Medical Benefit card a $1,500 deposit is required for vaginal birth and $3,500 for C-section.”
These costs do not include accommodation which starts at a nightly rate of $20 for standard rooms, $272 for semi-private rooms and $815 for private rooms, with Medical Benefit cards. Without the Medical Benefit card rooms costs are $965, $1,080 and $1,630 respectively.
For those who have opted to have delivery at private doctors the cost starts at least $7,500 for natural delivery and $21,000 for C-section.
“Now that I have spent so much money and it is just the beginning, because school and daycare don’t start yet, of course I am making sure I plan properly before having anymore”, said one of the mothers.
Lyndale Weaver-Greenaway, director for Antigua and Barbuda Planned Parenthood Association, said that they are seeing an increase in the number of couples who are doing just that.
“I have noticed lately that you are having couples coming in and deciding on a birth control method. It is not a whole lot but I think people are now sitting down, thinking about how many children they want,” said Weaver-Greenaway.
“I guess people are realising now that having a child is very expensive. I think before people use to just have children just you have sex and you get pregnant but right now you have persons who are planning.” In part two of our feature on the “Cost of a baby in Antigua”, we will review on average how much parents spend for the first year of a baby’s life.

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