Having a baby in Vietnam: Prenatal costs
Updated: Aug 3
It's so crazy to me that we're so close to the end of this whole pregnancy adventure! 22 days, and that's if Little Miss doesn't decide to make an early appearance into the world. This whole thing has been a crazy whirlwind of emotions. I can imagine it's never easy to have a baby overseas, but COVID has made this especially tough for us. Vietnam is not letting anyone into the country, so this means any visits and help from family and friends at home have been completely off the table. I know this is especially hard for my mom and sister who both really wanted to be here around the time the baby comes.
Another huge unknown for us going into all this was wondering how much this was going to end up costing, especially without health insurance. Any Americans reading this know that the idea of giving birth in the US without insurance is a terrifying thought - it's not unheard of for these costs to reach the five-figure mark. Luckily, healthcare in Vietnam is much more affordable, even at one of the most expensive hospitals in the country. Hopefully, this little breakdown helps any other ex-pat parents-to-be in Vietnam with figuring out what you can expect to pay for prenatal appointments.
I've been at FV (Franco-Vietnamese) Hospital for the duration of my prenatal monitoring, and will also be giving birth there. I'll write up a summary of delivery costs and link it here once Baby B has arrived. Although it is known for being one of the pricier options in Ho Chi Minh City, we chose FV for its high level of English-speaking staff. Being able to communicate effectively with the doctors and staff was really important to me, especially during a first pregnancy, when there are so many things you're experiencing for the first time. If you, your partner, or a good friend can speak Vietnamese, that opens up a world of prenatal and delivery options that are much more affordable.
I had also read that they were a bit more Westernised in their thoughts towards delivery and breastfeeding. My Vietnamese midwife even confirmed this during prenatal classes when she was telling us some of the things that she experienced at the start of her career at a Vietnamese public hospital. The Vietnamese society, in general, is very pro-formula as it creates chubbier babies, and chubby babies in their eyes equal health and wealth. I've always known I wanted to breastfeed, so having a hospital and doctor that also advocated for breastfeeding was really important to me. Despite the cost, I've been very satisfied with the level of care that I've received at FV Hospital, and I hope the delivery is as positive of an experience!
Prenatal appointment costs
Trimester 1 - 6,580,000VND//$283USD
I had two appointments in trimester one. The first was at 8 weeks and was really just a 'meet the doctor' appointment. We also did get a first ultrasound picture of our baby, who at the time was the size of a raspberry. This appointment only cost 880,000VND//$38.
The second appointment was much more intense and much pricier. This was at 13 weeks - the very last week of trimester one. At this appointment, we got the first of three 'major' ultrasounds and it was crazy to see how much the baby had grown in 5 weeks! I also had to get a bunch of tests done to check my levels for a bunch of different things like rubella, Hep B & C, Syphilis, Toxoplasma, HIV, etc. These are all standard things they test for in Vietnam, and luckily all my results came back normal or negative! This appointment was 5,700,000VND//$245.
Trimester 2 - 3,745,000VND//$161
The first appointment in trimester two was another super basic monthly check-in at 17 weeks. I did get an ultrasound done to check on the baby, but we didn't get any printed-out pictures. The nice part was that this appointment only cost 655,000VND//$28.
At the 22 week mark, I had the second big ultrasound. This is when we found out that Baby B was a girl, and we were so happy to hear that everything looked healthy and normal! After the ultrasound, we had a quick follow-up with the doctor. Total cost: 1,610,000VND//$70.
During the last week of trimester two (27 weeks), I had one more appointment. This was a consult with the doctor and another quick blood test to check for toxoplasma. This is a bacteria that you can get from unclean food and can be really harmful to unborn babies. Looking back, I don't know if I was supposed to get tested for this twice, or if there was some mix-up, as they tested me during week 13 for that as well. During this appointment, they often do a tetanus shot as well, as tetanus is, unfortunately, a big worry in Vietnam. Luckily, I had a tetanus shot less than a year ago, so I could skip out on that one. Total cost: 1,480,000VND//$64.
Trimester 3 - 7,000,000VND//$278 (as of week 39)
The first appointment I had was at 32 weeks and was the last big ultrasound of the pregnancy, as well as a follow-up with the doctor. They do a 3D image of your baby's face, so you can see them. Ours was a bit more alien-like than adorable newborn, but I can definitely tell that she'll end up with my nose. Total cost: 1,555,000VND//$67.
The next appointment was at 36 1/2 weeks. We had a consult with the doctor, where she did a swab test to check for streptococcus B bacteria. This is completely harmless for the mom but can cause infections for the baby, so if you test positive, you need antibiotics during labor and delivery. We also met with the anesthesiologist, which is mandatory here for all expecting mothers, even if you don't want an epidural. Basically, he asked a bunch of questions about my surgical history, and then I had to get blood drawn. I'm not really sure what that part tests for, but I'm sure it's to make sure there won't be complications with any anesthesia you might have. Total cost: 3,535,000VND//$150.
Today, I had what could be my final prenatal appointment. I had to go in for 30 minutes of fetal heartbeat monitoring, then had a check-in with the doctor. All-in-all, it was pretty quick and easy. Unfortunately, she couldn't give us any insight into when Little One will arrive, but hopefully, it's soon because we are anxiously awaiting her arrival! Total cost: 1,415,000VND//$61.
I'm scheduled for one last appointment on my due date, which is March 31st. If she still hasn't come by then, I'll go to that appointment for one last fetal monitoring session and we'll discuss options for induction of labor with the doctor.
Total prenatal appointment costs: 16,825,000VND//$724.
Medication & vitamins - 3,200,000VND//$137
I started having really severe heartburn around week 29. It was so bad that I wasn't sleeping well at all and was throwing up almost everything that I ate. The doctor put me on Nexium, which is an anti-acid, and it has been an absolute lifesaver. Now I can eat whatever I want with no problems, and I haven't thrown up once since I started it. Two months' worth of this cost 2,100,000VND//$90, and it has been worth every penny.
I've also been taking prenatal vitamins daily (or as often as I remember to take them...), which have cost about 1,100,000VND//$47 for a supply that has lasted the whole pregnancy (with some to spare!)
Prenatal classes - 1,950,000VND//$84
We both knew we really wanted to take some prenatal classes so we signed up for the ones at the hospital. Due to work, we could only make it to the last three (of five classes), and unfortunately, you pay for the whole package rather than per class. Despite this, they did give me some peace of mind with what to expect for labor, delivery, and breastfeeding, and we also got to see the delivery rooms and aftercare rooms, which was nice. I think any kind of prenatal class is especially helpful for first-time parents.
That about wraps up what you'll expect to pay when having a baby in Vietnam with no insurance. Overall, it's been pretty affordable, and I've been more than happy with the quality of healthcare that I've gotten. I am really glad that we decided to pay a little extra for an international hospital - I think I've been a lot less anxious during this whole pregnancy than I would have been otherwise.
Again, since this is my first baby, I have no idea how this compares to the cost and experience of having a baby in the US or anywhere else in the world - if you'd like to share your own story with me, I'd love to hear it! Send me an email or comment down below, especially if you've had a baby in Ireland as this is where our next little one will probably be born (SEVERAL years down the road!)