Thank you, NHS: why I’m glad I gave birth in the UK


Before I had a baby, my experiences with the NHS were pretty much limited to the odd cervical smear.

(These smears were odd both sense that they were infrequent and that they were strange, because there is something inherently weird about the whole legs-spread-feet-in-stirrups-while-someone-pokes-at-your-cervix scenario.)

Then I got pregnant, and suddenly I was all up in the NHS’ business. As someone who comes from a country with one of the most messed-up healthcare systems in the developed world, the NHS kind of blew me away.

The NHS services that I used included:

  • Regular antenatal appointments with my midwife
  • Two sonograms
  • Antenatal classes
  • Two night stay in the hospital after experiencing false labour contractions at 34 weeks
  • Ventouse birth in the hospital
  • Overnight stay in the hospital following the birth
  • Regular home visits from health visitors to monitor my health and the baby’s health after delivery

What it cost me: F*** ALL.

Of course, that’s not strictly true. I’ve been paying into the NHS for about a decade through my taxes, but that’s different than being handed a bill after you’ve just given birth, which is essentially what happens in America.

“I just pushed an actual HUMAN BEING out of my lady parts!” women must shout. “You should be paying ME!”

Sadly, it’s really expensive to have a baby over there. The average cost of giving birth in the US is $18,329 (for a vaginal delivery without insurance). Even with insurance, most women are left $3,500 out of pocket. When you’re doing something as monumental as bringing a new life into the world, the last thing you should be worrying about is paying for the privilege.

That’s why I’ll always be grateful that I had the Popple in my adopted homeland. I know the NHS isn’t perfect, but it’s nice to know that it’s available if you need it, like an old friend who you don’t see that often but would be there for you if you phoned them at 3am just because you needed to talk. The NHS is steady. Reliable. It doesn’t care how much money you make or what your background is. If you stumble into its arms, newly pregnant and nauseous and crying hormonal tears, it will hold you and say, “Don’t worry – we’ve got this.”


19 Replies to “Thank you, NHS: why I’m glad I gave birth in the UK”

  1. I find the whole US healthcare thing bizarre. Nye Bevan is a national hero here and there’s a statue of him in the centre of Cardiff. Obama has been turned into a panto villein!

    1. Agreed! I can’t understand why so many people in America are afraid of a single-payer healthcare system. Surely it’s better if everyone has healthcare coverage?

  2. Wow! I know that most people have health insurance in the states, but how on earth would anyone afford to give birth otherwise? You are right, so many of us take it for granted, but the NHS does us proud.

    Dawn x

    1. I have no idea – my guess is that people without insurance end up paying the hospital bills from their birth for years. It’s really shocking.

  3. I gave birth overseas and had to pay for EVERYTHING. It was a huge whack. Seriously, people don’t appreciate the NHS enough so this is a refreshing read! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub with this lovely x

  4. I’ve always been a huge NHS fan and my experiences with pregnancy and birth just made me even more grateful. Those figures for the US are insane!! #stayclassy

  5. Squirmypops I salute you and this post! Our local hospital Mat department gets a load of bad press, but after three traumatic deliveries, I couldn’t be prouder of the service I was provided by the NHS and their overworked, underpaid staff.
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    1. I had a really good experience as well – yes, the labour ward was busy and there weren’t enough staff, but everyone was trying their hardest to give the best care possible.

  6. The NHS is wonderful, and we are very lucky that we have it as a free service here in the UK. I couldn’t imagine having to pay that much to have a baby. I couldn’t fault the maternity care I received all the way through the midwife appointments, to being induced, and then having a semi-emergency c-section, followed by 3 days further days in hospital when I had my little one. #coolmumclub

  7. What a great post and I whole heartedly agree. I don’t get people who slate the NHS I really don’t. Sure, there are huge waiting lists for ops etc but overall I think the NHS is fantastic and we are so lucky to have it. I dont k ow how people afford to have babies in other countries purely because of the medical bills. It’s ludicrous.


  8. Completely agree. I’m from San Francisco and I feel very lucky that I didn’t have to pay a cent, meanwhile my friends are having to pay (like you said) around $2K to give birth! It’s cray! To this day, my Mom (who had a c-section and was in the hospital for about a month) still jokes about how she was handed a bill a mile long! I think it was around £25K, so ridiculous.

    I think it’s really great how the NHS is so supportive after the delivery with the home visits…again my Mom was visiting at the time and she was very impressed. They also helped me with breastfeeding, etc which was extremely helpful. Thanks for linking up with #stayclassy!

  9. A really great, positive post #justanotherlinky

  10. debsrandomwritings says: Reply

    Hi Katie, it’s refreshing to hear someone show appreciation for the NHS. I had my two children in Greece and whilst I won’t knock the Greek hospital system as they have always been there for us in emergencies, the way things work here is very different than the UK.

    How people afford to give birth in the United States I don’t know, it must be a worry if a person can’t afford insurance.


    1. I was really impressed by the care I got on the NHS – it cemented my belief that universal healthcare can really work.

  11. I completely agree. I had a horrific birth, but at least I wasn’t burdened with a huge cost afterwards. In fact, I got a free stay in hospital, free antibiotics for an post-natal infection… not to mention I’ve had my life saved by the NHS at least 3 times now all for free. It might not be a perfect system, but by gosh it’s plenty good enough! #justanotherlinky

    1. A bad birth experience is bad enough – people shouldn’t have to worry about paying bills on top of that!

  12. I am really proud of the NHS!
    Everyone does mistakes even the private part where you pay! No one is perfect.
    I am so greatful for NHS. Great post
    Thank you so much for linking up to #justanotherlinky

  13. I’m the same as you: barely used the NHS until I got pregnant. In the last 4 years I definitely think I’ve got my money’s worth!
    We’re really fortunate and we ought to recognise it more.

  14. Totally agree that we ar so lucky to have the nhs. Yes sometimes there can be things that we get annoyed about but all in all they are amazing! Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx

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