Thinking about starting a family? Of course, there are a lot of things to consider before getting pregnant. Are you financially ready? How will you share parenting responsibilities with your partner? Does your go-to gynecologist deliver babies? Maybe you’re even considering where you want to live before giving birth. Turns out, that’s not a bad idea, especially considering the rising health care costs and recent reports showing that the United States is now the most dangerous developed country to give birth. Yikes.
But not to scare you – there are plenty of states that prioritize pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. A new report from WalletHub outlines these locations, detailing the best states in the U.S. to have a baby, as well as the worst. What they found is that expenses vary significantly from state to state, as does the quality of health care services and the environments in which to raise children. To come to these conclusions, researchers compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 30 key measures, including cost of living, health care accessibility, hospital delivery charges, average annual infant charges, and overall family-friendliness.
They found that the best state to have a baby is Vermont, topping the chart for its health care. According to the report, the scenic northeastern state has the most family doctors and child care centers per capita, as well as the second most midwives and OBGYNs per capita; though they fall around the middle of the list for cost (aka delivery charges, early child care, health insurance premiums, etc.).
Vermont also ranked high for “family friendliness,” with good parental leave policies and nationally accredited childcare centers, making it a great state to raise children. It’s also worth noting that in 2018, Vermont tied for the nation’s happiest and healthiest state, and Vermonters say they have tons of social connections and support from others. Oh, and did we mention that there are plenty of outdoorsy activities to keep little ones occupied and off their screens?
Massachusetts holds the second spot on the list, with the highest parental leave policy score and a high number of family doctors per capita. Also noteworthy: Mass also has the lowest infant mortality rate, which is a growing concern in America, especially for women of color. This all comes at a cost, though, as the state has one of the highest average annual infant-care costs. Coming in at third is North Dakota, with low hospital delivery charges, a good overall cost score, and a high “family friendliness” rank.
As for the worst state to have a baby? Mississippi still holds that spot, according to these findings. Though they have the lowest average annual cost for early childcare, they scored the lowest in health care and have the fewest number of OBGYNs per capita, leaving women who are expecting with limited access to care. Mississippi also has one of the highest infant-mortality rates. However, it should be noted that steps are being taken combat the problems for expectant mothers and their babies in MS; more insurers in the state are working with high risk pregnant women and programs like IMPLICIT are helping keep new moms healthy post-birth.
The second worst state to have a baby is Alabama. The southern state scored low in health care and “family friendliness,” while it got the lowest rank it “baby friendliness.” Both Alabama and Mississippi’s early education rates are among the lowest in the country, too. What makes this more upsetting is that though these two states have the worst overall rankings in the nation for childbirth, the most challenges for expecting mothers, poor clinical care for babies and children, and high infant mortality rates, Mississippi and Alabama recently passed two of the country’s strictest abortion laws. Let that sink in.
For the complete list of the best states to give birth, click over to WalletHub.com.