The REAL cost of having a baby in South Africa if you are on Medical aid…

Today I am sharing my experience and some important information about birth and postpartum care at private hospitals if you are on medical aid.

Please note that this post was written based on my experience.

Finding out that you are pregnant is such a special time for you and your partner.

I remember the morning that I find out I was pregnant with my firstborn – It felt so unreal! I was nervous, surprised but extremely excited! I had butterflies in my tummy just thinking about how much life was going to change with a little human arriving in 8+ months’ time.

I’m not one of those people that plan ahead so I had no idea as to how much baby products would cost and what the big difference was between a private and a public hospital.

When you fall pregnant, you are bombarded with information. You must think about the little things like pregnancy vitamins, antenatal classes and make big decisions about your doctor, your birth, and the hospital where you are going to deliver your baby.

The biggest mistake I made was that I did not do enough research. I did not think about my budget for baby products and how much I was willing to spend on my pregnancy – over and above what my medical aid was covering.

cost of baby

In today’s world, you need to think about this because everything has a hefty price tag on it including the type of birth you have and the room you stay in. You need to plan for the unexpected costs like an emergency C-Section, extra hospital stay and any complications that could happen during delivery.

I am on a medical aid and even though I assumed everything would be covered, it wasn’t. I still paid a hefty amount from my pocket because of the decisions I made; the type of room I stayed in hospital and the gynaecologist I chose. My gynae charges more than what my medical aid covers on the plan that I am on.

What you need to know if you are on a medical aid:

The type of medical scheme you have on your medical aid determines your benefits and cover you will have during and after your pregnancy.

  • Know your benefits and your medical aid plan – It is important to find out immediately as to what will be covered during this time. This way you can narrow down your search for hospitals and gynaecologists in your area and work with the best rates that your medical aid can give you.
  • Find out if the hospital that you are going with offers a baby passport – this has some added benefits like a 4D scan and hospital bag filled with sample products for a reasonable amount.

Mediclinic hospital bags include:

Please note: This is part of the Mediclinic baby program.

  • A luxury baby bag with everything your baby will need for the first few days – excluding baby clothes (selected hospitals do supply clothing).
  • A certificate with your baby’s footprint.
  • The option to announce your baby’s arrival with a photo on our website.
  • A special celebration surprise for new parents.
  • “Baby’s First Year” book with valuable information and tips.
  • First vaccinations: Polio and BCG *Stock dependant.

Netcare hospital bags include: 

  • Various product samples and ample information to assist you.
  • First baby immunisations at the hospital.
  • With your consent, your baby’s first immunisations (BCG and polio) will be administered free of charge before discharge from the hospital.
  • The first baby check-up at two weeks.
  • Your baby’s developmental milestones will be assessed at no charge.
  • Netcare 911 registration for 18 months.
  • This includes access to Netcare’s 24-hour advice line and select emergency medical services.

medical aid

  • Many medical aids do not cover the booking fee for your bed in the hospital.
  • Check the amount available in your medical savings quite regularly. This can easily get exhausted.
  • You will have a limited amount available for antenatal classes – if you are a first-time parent, take advantage of this.
  • Most medical aid packages only cover 100% of the health rate for: Gynaecologists/Obstetrician in a Key Care network hospital selected blood tests that your Gynaecologist/Obstetrician or GP requests and the important scans.
  • Private hospital gynaecologists can charge you up to 400% so you may need to pay a big portion from your own pocket for every visit.
  • For some doctor’s appointments, you will need to pay cash and then claim from your medical aid.
  • Gap cover was extremely important for me – it helped a lot during and after my pregnancy. Consider taking one when you start family planning.
  • Gap cover has a waiting period so it is important you take one when you thinking about having a baby. Some Gap covers have a 12 month waiting period before you can use it.

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What you need to know about Maternity hospitals in South Africa:

  • Many Netcare and Mediclinic hospitals offer great support for moms-to-be which include antenatal workshops and breastfeeding preparation and support. They even have their own pregnancy app!
  • Many of the maternity hospitals allow you to relax in water before giving birth however only a few do offer water birth or allow active birth so if you are interested in a specific type of birth, you need to research before choosing a gynae.

What is water birth?

You deliver your baby in the water without any medication.

What is active birth?

Women are allowed to birth in whichever position they are comfortable in and don’t necessary have to lie on their backs.

  • Genesis clinic in Johannesburg and Origin Family-Centred Maternity Hospital in Cape Town offer a more relaxed environment for mom to birth in. They have great facilities and do accept medical aid. They have experienced midwives to assist you during and after birth and have Obstetricians on call for emergency cases.
  • Many hospitals have a strict policy on when dad can visit and if he can stay with you. This all depends on the type of room you book when you arrive at the hospital to have your baby.

Type of rooms available for recovery in private hospitals:

  • Semi-private (You share the room with another mom).
  • Private (You have your own room and bathroom).
  • Suite (You and your partner can stay in the same room, meals will also be provided for your partner).

Note: You pay for the room per day, medical aid normally covers the cost of semi-private rooms. Anything above that will be extra from your pocket. Some rooms can cost up to R3 000 extra a day (depending on hospital).

Genesis clinic in Johannesburg and Origin Family-Centred Maternity Hospital in Cape Town offer birth suites and luxury family rooms.

Origin Family-Centred Maternity Hospital birth suite:

Women can make use of the specially designed birth bath to labour in or experience a life-changing water birth. The couple remains in this suite for the entire duration of their stay at Origin, unlike in conventional hospitals. The emphasis is on ensuring that mom and baby are not disturbed during the golden hour after birth, and that families are given privacy and respect during this sacred event.

The room incorporates the following:
Queen-size bed for the labouring woman and her partner.
Beautiful crib.
Specially designed birth bath.
Bar fridge with snacks.
En-suite bathroom with spacious shower.

Genesis Clinic:

The rooms are large with king sized beds and cribs to accommodate rooming in, are decorated with a touch of style to create an environment of tranquillity and comfort and open on to their own enclosed, private gardens. Each room has an en-suite bathroom with a birthing bath for labour as well as a shower for convenience.

medical aid

Government hospitals offer most treatments at a rate that is reasonably cheaper compare to private hospitals – with added benefits like free maternity pads etc. after your delivery but that is a big personal decision you and your partner need to make.

You need to ask yourself the following questions if you don’t have medical aid:

  • Can I afford a private hospital?
  • What’s the big difference between public and private hospitals?
  • If I need to choose a public hospital – which would be a better option?
  • Note the distances to and from the hospital.
  • Does it matter to me where I have my baby?

I am pregnant with my third baby and from experience, I can tell you that pre-and post-baby check-ups are expensive. My gynaecologist check-ups range from R850 to R1650 including the important fetal growth scans. My medical aid doesn’t cover the full amount for my gynae even though I am on a very expensive plan. My last delivery (C-section) roughly cost around R41 000 including the “luxuries” I opted for. I did end up paying a big amount in for my hospital stay because of the little “extras”.

I think medical aid plans are very expensive here in South Africa but it is so worth it if you want to have the best in a private hospital however it is important that you know that there may be “extra” costs you need to cover so it is important you have enough savings for emergencies and the hidden costs. I urge you to take a gap cover and always save a little every month in your bank account for health emergencies/vaccinations if you plan on going the private route. Once your medical aid is exhausted, you will have to fork out money from your pocket.

Important websites for you:

Genisis Clinic

Origin Family-Centred Maternity Hospital



Moms share their opinions:

“I gave birth at a private hospital and dealt with only private professionals. It’s not always a good story even when u r paying so much for private sector.” Anonymous

“My Peyton was born in a government hospital. It was very nice very clean just like private hospitals and the Dr’s and nurses were excellent.” Nolene Harichandra

“Terrible experience, I had to lay flat on my back I had to hold my Own legs up and couldn’t have anyone with me. I think they also hurt my pelvis because I had a big baby. My daughter is four months and it still hurts, I couldn’t walk or even get up for the first week. Not another government hospital for me.” Anonymous.

“I gave birth at 3 different government hospitals Mowbray maternity, Groote Schuur and Mitchells plain district hospital and all three times staff was amazing. No complaints amazing hospitals with good staff real service delivery.”

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Hi, I’m Shan. I’m an entrepreneur and a sucker for good adventures. I was listed in Forbes Africa 30 under 30 2019 and just recently launched my start-up – MomSays.

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