From Massachusetts to Maine, New Hampshire to Nevada, expecting moms have one thing in common: they want to give birth to a healthy baby in a safe environment. While the stress of childbirth can already make this a challenge, COVID-19 has made it harder to ensure a problem-free, and in some cases, a cost-efficient delivery. Some states are weathering the storm more effectively than others.
How does your state measure up? Wallethub provides an answer, with a recent survey listing the best states to give birth.
Peering into the metrics of the 50 states along with Washington D.C., Wallethub examined several areas related to having a baby. Each state received a numeric score out 100 points. The survey looked at the following:
- Cost — obtaining health insurance, labor and delivery charges and childcare after delivery
- Healthcare – hospital infrastructure, number of positive COVID-19 tests, infant mortality and preterm births
- Baby friendliness – child-care centers and parental-leave policies
- Family friendliness – education, family fun and safety
Taking the factors into account, Massachusetts tops the list. With an overall score of 68.81, the state ranks high in family friendliness and baby friendliness.
Right on its heels is Minnesota. With the number two spot overall, The North Star State ranked number one for family friendliness.
Third-ranked Vermont nabbed the highest rank in the healthcare category. According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, Vermont has one of the lowest positive test counts in the nation with just over 1500.
Fourth on the best states list is North Dakota, which takes the top spot in the cost category. As of December 2019, Business Insider notes that the average labor and delivery cost topped $10,000. The midwestern state earns high marks for being cost-effective.
Rounding out the top five is Rhode Island, with a total score of 63.35. The state came in second for baby friendliness.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Alabama is the worst state to have a baby, with an overall score of 25.25. The state came in last for baby friendliness. South Carolina was 50th, and also in 50th place for healthcare. Other states rounding out the bottom designation are Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia.
What to do if your state ranks low
As a mom in Georgia, I know how daunting it is to see your state near the bottom of the list. While there's no way to guarantee you won't run into problems no matter where you give birth, you can try to take steps to make your delivery as safe and cost-effective as possible.
Not all hospital charges are equal. By the same token, not all doctor charges are equal. A birthing center may be a better fit for you. Do a little digging during your pregnancy to find out about the costs and billing practices and what is available in your area.
Find out where to check-in when you arrive at the hospital. Why will this make a difference? Some facilities now allow women in labor to bypass the emergency room, where they would normally check-in. Having a location that's less likely to have you sitting next to someone sick with coronavirus can go a long way toward lowering your anxiety level.
During the pandemic, consider wearing a mask. Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston notes on its website that it is "requiring all patients, visitors and staff to wear masks to help prevent (the) spread of infection." With Massachusetts' high rank in the healthcare arena, the practice appears to be working.
And lastly, contact your lawmakers about birth practices, maternal health and infant safety in your state and let them know this matters to you as voter.
Mama, please know this: While the Wallethub survey provides valuable information, no matter where you reside, you can create a safe and welcoming environment for your newest edition, and you can demand that of your hospital.