The Cost of Having a Baby… in 1950

I’ve been keeping pretty busy lately, sorting through all my dad’s belongings since he passed away about a month ago. Although it hasn’t been a fun process, I’ve come across a few treasures like old pictures, letters, or something else from his past that has helped lift my spirits.

Yesterday, I found this gem. It’s a hospital bill from when my grandmother gave birth to my dad on Christmas Eve, 1950. Check it out–click on it to enlarge it.

The grand total is a whopping $86.33! I used the consumer price index calculator to figure out how much that would be worth today, and it’s about $755.00. That’s still not bad considering my hospital bill for giving birth to my daughter in 2005 was over five grand.

I know Grandma didn’t have the all the “luxuries” and technologies we have today in many hospital wards. But really, how different is giving birth to a baby in 2008 versus 1950?


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Cara
Cara Reeves is a co-founder emerita of Working Moms Against Guilt. While she doesn't contribute to WMAG currently, she'll always be our girl. She now works as a freelance copywriter with 10 years of advertising experience. Cara specializes in developing creative concepts and writing killer copy for the web, social media campaigns, print, video, broadcast, as well as articles too. Visit her website for more information: www.CaraReeves.com
Cara

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Comments

  1. amy t sharp says:

    so cool! I love that you have that document! I found yr awesome blog through some gals at Bridgeworldwide! this looks great- can’t wait to read more!

  2. The Travel Diva says:

    My gosh, how funny is that!? If only the other child-related expenses were as cheap nowadays too!

  3. That is so cool you found that, Cara.

    I also found it interesting that your gma stayed for FIVE days for a measly 85 (?? now I can’t remember) dollars. Compared to now, where they kick you out after barely two.

  4. LOL! And your grandmother got to spend 5 luxurious days in the hospital…what do we get, like 5 HOURS after birth?

  5. the weirdgirl says:

    That actually made me feel a little ill, seeing that. My hospital bill was closer to $8000. If I had a kid in 1950 that would cost about the same as my co-payment today.

    I especially loved the “necklace” for a whopping $1.50. I assume that was splurging for a luxury item?

  6. I know, it makes you wish for simpler times!

    My aunt thinks the necklace was a BABY beaded necklace she bought. It must have been a splurge considering it cost the same as 1 day of “nursery care and baby board.”

    Something else my husband pointed out was the zip/postal codes were only 2 numbers back then.

  7. Student of Life says:

    This hospital receipt illustrates how different childbirth is in America today as compared to 1950. Five days?!? What a luxury.
    I’m reading an interesting book called Pushed by Jennifer Block. It is a look at the history of childbirth that compares today’s American birth experience with the birth experience in other times and cultures. It is very eye-opening.

  8. Anonymous says:

    She could have saved $15 by denying the doctor the pleasure of partaking in the barbaric practice of circumcision.

  9. Might want to check on how many stillborn infants there were back then, how many premature infants died, how many mothers died from complications of pregnancy.
    I'm sure that if you want 1950 medicine you can find somewhere in the world to get it.
    I hate this kind of crap. There was a column in the local rag recently decrying how much doctor visits cost, and hospitalization. You know, doctors back in 1950 were much better at one thing than doctors today….saying "I'm sorry there's nothing we can do."

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think that bill is a gem to treasure. I am in labor and delivery and I can tell you if your bill today is under 10 grand you did well. The cost of having a baby is directly related to the fact that everyone is willing to sue for each and everything that does not go as planned.

    By the way nothing can be planned when having a baby cuz like it or not we do not have contraol over the situation. More and more OB
    doctors are leaving the practice due to malpractice insurance costs or outcomes from litigation that break the bank. only 65% of positions for new OB docs are being filled right now as compared to several years ago it was 86% because the hours stink the pays is some of the least in medicine and it is the area of the highest litigation in medicine.

    Hmmm wonder what will happen in 20 years when no one wants to practice anymore due to everyone thinking they can control it and they know best.

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