The cost of giving birth in America is now more than an average month’s salary

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There have been a lot of headlines about birth this week. Media outlets at the local, state and national level are reporting on the declining birth rate in America after a new report from the CDC, and at the same time, a new study published in the journal Health Affairs shows the out-of-pocket cost for giving birth in America has gone up significantly in recent years.

The CDC report doesn't explain why birth rates are declining, and there are clearly multiple factors influencing the trend, but we cannot ignore how much it costs simply to give birth. For most women, the co-pay is more than a month's salary.

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In America, 98% of mothers with an employer-sponsored health care plan can still expect to pay out-of-pocket for birth costs. The average cost is $4,500, while the average American woman's monthly salary is $3,300, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Affordable Care Act requires big employer-based health plans to cover maternity care, but a mother who has health insurance through work can still expect to pay more than a month's worth of salary to have a baby.

"These are not small co-pays. The costs are staggering," says Dr. Michelle Moniz, M.D.,M.Sc., an obstetrician-gynecologist at Michigan Medicine's Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital and researcher with the U-M Institute of Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

As the lead author of the study, Moniz was surprised to see that most women who have an employer-sponsored health care plan are still paying thousands of dollars to give birth. She wants to see policymakers consider alternatives to the current system. "Maternity and childbirth care are essential health services that promote the well-being of families across our country. Reducing patients' costs for these high-value services makes sense. We all want babies to have the best possible start in life," says Moniz explains in a university release.

Moniz worries that rising costs for maternal health care are not only burdening families but also pushing mothers to limit or skip prenatal care.

Health care costs for families are growing

Even for those who have uncomplicated births and health insurance at work, giving birth in America is expensive. And taking care of that baby's health (as well as mama's) doesn't get cheaper. In 2018, the average American family spent $5,000 per person on health care. If you're a two-parent family with two kids you're looking at $20,000. Costs are reduced for those with employer-based health care, but parents are still paying $6,015 in out-of-pocket expenses, CNBC reports.

"There is growing evidence that cost protections have eroded for those who have employer-sponsored health coverage, putting the burden of health care costs on workers and their families," David Blumenthal, president of the health care policy foundation The Commonwealth Fund, tells CNBC.

Families are not growing

To replace the population, American families need to have 2.10 kids, but the average is now at 1.73. The birth rate for women under 34 is falling, while rates for women over 35 are increasing.

Concerns over climate change are a factor for some choosing to have fewer or no children, but for many people having a baby (especially before 35) just isn't financially feasible. Millennials have more student debt than previous generations but make about the same the young adults of Gen X were making in 2001. Salaries have not kept up with the cost of living, and millennials are more likely than older people to have a second job in the gig economy.

"Millennials are more risk averse than earlier generations at the same age. People 50 or even 25 years ago didn't wait to be 'financially well established' before starting a family. Now it's considered irresponsible not to," Richard Jackson the president of the Global Aging Institute, told Axios last year.

Diane Mulcahy is the author of "The Gig Economy" and an adjunct lecturer at Babson College She tells Bankrate that when she speaks with millennials they point to two factors that make them feel insecure financially:

"One is that they're very aware there's no job security, so they're the least likely generation to kind of settle into a full-time job and assume that everything's going to be OK," Mulcahy explains. "The other reason is clearly economic. Most millennials—at least on the professional end who have been to college—have significant debt and a lot of them are looking for ways to either build a financial cushion or reduce their debt faster."

Josie Kalipeni, the policy director of the caregiving advocacy organization Caring Across Generations tells The Atlantic a similar story, adding that soaring childcare costs are another factor pushing down on a generation of would-be parents. "Economic instability and unaffordable care could be factors for people deciding to have children later in life, or not at all," Kalipeni explains.

Employer-based health care needs improvement, but so does employment in general

When millennials do find full-time employment it often isn't conducive to raising kids. As Motherly previously reported, the current status for many working Americans—inflexible schedules, long work hours and a lack of legislated parental leave—is not likely to result in a rising birth rate.

The United States is the only member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) without a national paid leave program for parents, and that's one of the reasons why America's moms are among the most stressed in the world.

Today's mothers do not feel society supports them and that makes supporting a family so much harder.

We do love being mothers, regardless of how challenging it is

The truth is, it is hard and expensive to be a parent in America, but so many are still trying.

This generation is not having as many kids as previous generations did, but it is putting so much love into the ones it does have. While 88% of parents today say it's harder for us than it was for our parents, 99% of us really love being parents.

We want this, we want it so much. But if society wants the birth rate to rise, the costs have to go down.

We have to figure out how to reduce the costs to the planet, the time spent in cubicles and commutes and the cost of healthcare. When a co-pay for birth costs a mama a month of her salary (or worse, means going into debt) we can't be surprised when fewer people are giving birth.




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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Gabrielle Union + Dwyane Wade have been blended family goals, an inspiration to those struggling with infertility and now they are an inspiration to parents of trans kids and supporters of trans rights.

Earlier this month Wade appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and spoke about his 12-year-old daughter Zaya coming out as transgender and Union posted a beautiful video + caption to Instagram, inviting fans to "meet Zaya."

This week Wade appeared on Good Morning America, explaining that Zaya has known she was transgender since she was 3 years old.

"Zaya has known it for nine years," the proud dad said on GMA, adding that he credits Zaya (who was assigned as male at birth) with educating him and helping him grow.

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"I knew early on that I had to check myself... I've been a person in the locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself," he told GMA's Robin Roberts. "My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with this conversation...Hopefully I'm dealing with it the right way... Inside our home we see the smile on my daughter's face, we see the confidence that she's able to walk around and be herself and that's when you know you're doing right."

It sure seems like Wade and Union have been doing it right. When Union posted a video to Instagram earlier this month introducing Zaya it was clear the tween's dad and step-mom have her back.

In the video Zaya is riding in a golf cart with her dad and dropping wisdom. She says: "Just be true to yourself, because what's the point of even living on this earth if you're going to try to be someone you're not?...Be true and don't really care what the 'stereotypical' way of being you is."

Union was so impressed by her step-daughter, captioning the video: "She's compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It's Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people."

Later in the week Union addressed criticism of Zaya's transition on Twitter, writing: "This has been a journey. We're still humbly learning but we decided quickly w/ our family that we wouldn't be led by fear. We refuse to sacrifice the freedom to live authentically becuz we are afraid of what ppl might say. U have the ability to learn & evolve."

Zaya's big brother is also on her side. Newly 18-year-old Zaire posted the cutest throwback pic from when he and Zaya were just little kids, noting how the siblings were and are best friends.

"Man, I remember bugging my mom as a kid telling her I wanted a brother so bad. I was the only child looking for company and someone to look after and take care of," Zaire began his caption. "I have been blessed to have my best friend, Zaya with me for 12 years. We did everything together … we fought, we played, we laughed and we cried. But the one thing we never did was leave each other behind."

Zaire continued: "I've told you that I would lay my life down to make sure you are ten toes down and happy on this earth," he told his younger sibling. "I don't care what they think Z, you are my best friend and I love you kid, and if it means anything, just know there's no love lost on this side ✊🏾"

We are so impressed and inspired by the love Zaya's family is showing her (and other kids by sharing this story publicly). You've got this Zaya!

[A version of this story was posted February 12, 2020. It has been updated.]

News

Back in August the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Contigo announced the recall of millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles—about 5.7 million of them.

Now, the CPSC and Contigo are recalling millions of water bottles and the replacement lids that were given to consumers as part of the August 2019 recall.

"Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and the replacement lids provided in the previous recall, take them away from children, and contact Contigo for a free water bottle. Consumers who received replacement lids in the previous recall should contact Contigo for the new water bottle," the CPSC states.

Millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles were originally recalled after it became clear the silicone spout could pose a choking hazard.

"Contigo identified that the water bottle's clear silicone spout in some cases may detach from the lid of the water bottle," Contigo stated in a notice posted to its Facebook page back in August.

According to the CPSC, "Contigo [had] received 149 reports of the spout detaching including 18 spouts found in children's mouths" before the original recall.

Now, the CPSC reports "Contigo has received a total of 427 reports of the spout detaching including 27 spouts found in children's mouths."

All of the recalled water bottles have a black color spout base and spout cover.

This week Contigo expanded the recall. The original date range was for Contigo Kids Cleanable Water Bottle from April 2018 through June 2019. Now it is for bottles purchased through February 2020, and all the replacement lids.

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If you are looking for some alternative water bottles, here are a few of our favorites:

Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask features an easy-to-drink (and clean) top, a silicone bottom that won't scratch your furniture.

Motherly has tested these with a two-year-old and an eight-year-old and found these bottles are perfect for Pre-K to elementary school.

$29.95

CamelBak

The CamelBak is a big hit with little kids as it is easy to maneuver and it's a big hit with moms because it is easy to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher. CamelBak Eddy 12 oz Kids Vacuum Stainless Water Bottle

$14.99

Skip Hop

The designs on the Skip Hop stainless steel bottle keep kids happy and the silicone sleeve keeps the bottle from falling out of little hands! Bonus points for a flexible straw that is easy to clean!

$17.99


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

{A version of this story was originally posted August 27, 2019. It has been updated.]

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