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The Best (and Worst) States to Have a Baby

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

There are a lot things I love about my home state — the easy access to water on most sides, the late-night summer nights, the beauty of fall foliage.

But depending on if you’re a half-full or half-empty kind of person, my state falls smack dab in the middle of the best and worst states to have a baby in. Which is just fine with me, especially considering my baby-making days are almost over. (I think. Maybe. Ask me in five years and also, can I hold your baby?)

Everyone talks about the crazy-high costs of having and raising children, and while I happen to fall more into the camp of hand-me-downs-are-cool-and-find-your-own-way-to-college-because-that’s-what-I-did, I get it. The price of living as a growing family is higher than ever and apparently, in some states, it’s really high.

Wallethub recently broke down exactly which states are the best (and the worst) for having babies, along with a few other juicy details about all things baby making. (Besides the actual baby making, get your head out of the gutter, folks.)

1. Mississippi is the worst state to have a baby in.

Sorry, Mississippi. Even your cool way of remembering how to spell your name (that every elementary kid can recite) isn’t enough to redeem yourself here. You ranked dead last in the round-up of best states to have a baby in, based on a combination of factors you failed at including health care and “baby-friendly” environments.

2. September is the most popular month to have a baby.

If you have a September baby, you’re in good company because it’s the most popular month to give birth. Even more apt, today (September 16) is one of the most common birthdays for babies. And if we count backwards 9 and 1/2 months, we get … ahh, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It’s all making sense now.

3. The average cost of having a baby is kind of insane.

The average cost for a “conventional” hospital birth? Over $10k. I’m assuming “conventional” means a vaginal birth with no complications. Although, even those can have a few add-ons with “simple” interventions, like my bill for an induction with my daughter. C-sections, on the other hand, can cost as much as $15,000.

4. Vermont is where it’s at.

If you’re planning to move to the perfect state before popping out a kid, you may want to pack your bags and head to Vermont. Aside from my visions of crisp and colorful fall foliage, cozy crocheted sweaters, and neighbors out in their lawns raking up leaves, Vermont also ranked #1 in health care. Which is impressive, indeed.

5. Alaska is actually baby-friendly.

One would not think that the frozen tundras of Alaska would be conducive to a baby-friendly environment, but apparently that would be wrong because Alaska ranked #2 in all of the states for “baby friendliness.” The judging factors for friendliness included: air pollution (makes sense for Alaska), number of mom groups, parental leave polices, highly accredited child-care centers, and superfund sites.

I had no idea what a “superfund site” was, so I looked it up and horrifyingly, as defined by the EPA, it’s an “uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people.” Side note: you can check out the locations of these areas near you here. Click at your own discretion.

6. Washington D.C. is 4 times more expensive to raise an infant in than Mississippi.

From the lowest cost of infant care in the state of Mississippi to the highest cost of D.C., the difference is a startling four times in cost. Coincidence in income per capita? Probably not, although really economically challenged states should have better infant care, not less.

7. Postpartum support is important.

One of the things that has only recently begun to dawn on me is how much information is missing about the transition a woman goes through during the postpartum period. We have a million pieces of advice on pregnancy, and living with a newborn ,and working and not working, but that fragile time of physically and emotionally healing after a baby? Not so much. Postpartum has always been really tough for me — I get sick, I get depressed, and I’m finally realizing it’s not me that’s the problem, it’s our expectation for women to pop out a kid and get back to normal in a day.

One of the experts with Wallethub recommended that more cities run free postpartum groups with lactation consultants, nurses, and pediatricians, and I want to give that recommendation a hearty “hear, hear!” We desperately need more postpartum-specific support for mothers, along with a lot of other changes in how we birth in the U.S., so maybe these findings are a good start in helping us make that happen.

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