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Are babies a luxury?

When Jackie Dorage and her husband Corey Ellis first tried to have a baby in mid2019, things looked a lot different for the couple than they do today. Dorage, who is currently unemployed, just got his teaching certification, while Ellis, a freelancer, plans to get a full-time job with benefits. They left the Brooklyn apartment they shared with roommates to buy a home in Atlanta to be closer to their families. Four years later, the pandemic has them rethinking whether having children is still affordable, or even safe.

“It seems riskier to have a baby now, especially with abortion restrictions,” Dorage said, now 40, after which pregnancy is considered “old age” in the United States. Dorage lives in Georgia, where abortion was banned at around six weeks, and she has seen first-hand the impact of those strict restrictions. A close friend bled profusely in the bathtub during a miscarriage because the hospital wouldn’t let her in. Another friend died in childbirth, she told me. Dorage’s concerns are consistent with the recent U.S. maternal mortality rate — the highest of any industrialized nation. In 2021, US maternal deaths increased by 35 percent. While COVID-related complications have played a role, incidence has been steadily increasing since 2000.

Hiring a labor doula, to assist with labor and delivery, is one way of trying to ensure a level of care during labor. But it’s hardly an affordable option: costs range from $1600 to $224 between . Considering the cost of giving birth in a hospital without insurance, the average new mother can expect to bring $24,865 bill. (The average cost of vaginal birth is $24, 600 and $ 24,185 for C-section.) “If you want to be safe and healthy , you can pay to get rid of this broken health care system, but it takes a lot of money to do that,” said Philip N. Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland. According to her private health insurance plan, Dorage’s delivery in the hospital cost approximately $8, (Average out-of-pocket costs for births with health insurance are $2, 854, but vary by plan.)

Some clinics, advertise as Luxury resorts are working to address the maternal mortality health crisis by providing postpartum care to reduce readmissions and provide pain management immediately after birth. For example, Boram Postnatal Retreat in New York City offers its guests a 24/7 care team, recovery support, nutritious meals and therapy services, and a host of Other resources – but at a high cost. Guests pay up to $1 per night 185 for an average stay of five days, according to the company’s website. It’s a luxury that typical expecting mothers can’t afford, especially many Black and Indigenous women — who are most at risk of pregnancy complications. Then there are expensive postpartum services, such as massage and acupuncture, specifically designed to help with postpartum recovery. Prices for postpartum massages range from $185 to $ at Sparrow’s Nest Massage in Pasadena varies.



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