I guess my question is: how do pregnant women in the States do it? Is it possible to have a baby (and pay for its birth and the additional costs it incurs) and take a proper maternity leave (living on just a husband's pay) and still get by? What were your experiences of US maternity leave like with your employers (in terms of length, pay, support)?
It breaks my heart to consider not giving birth at home, but it seems the situation in the UK is so much more considerate toward new families...
In my experience it is much more expensive to have a baby Stateside than in UK - not only for the medical care, but even just getting baby equipment. I don't know the situation with maternity leave too well but I think in UK you get much more time. Another thing to consider is that once the baby is born in US, there is no system like that of having the health visitor come and help etc and it may be harder in US to go for a more natural birth plan if that is your preference. That is the down side.
The up side is that so long as you have insurance that covers you (and some companies won't cover maternity until you have been with them for a certain period of time
the care seems to be very much more consistent. I have never had to fight to get a scan or wait for any additional treatment in the case where I was worried about anything and I feel a lot more confident about the cleanliness and monitoring in the hospitals. I think you might go a bit crazy if you keep comparing the two, because it can vary from region to region anyway. For me, the bottom line is, choose what you feel will give you the best outcome.
I feel a bit more confident with the actual care I am receiving here than I ever did in UK, but I do miss the fact that in UK it was free and a bit more long lasting in terms of aftercare and options. It's a bit more clinical here - but in my case that is what we needed this time. The insurance coverage side of things (a la Sicko) is always a bit of a worry and rather a big hassle often as you have to do a lot of phoning around, chasing things up, making sure you are covered ( and that is after you have a plan )... it really is half a dozen of one and six of the other.
Here, it IS harder financially. Over in UK, it probably depends on the area you are in and what their standard of care is like. I had a mixed experience, both the best and the very very worst. Here, my care has been great so far, although it took me a while to find and then get in with an OBGYN that I like (that was a rigmarole).
Overall, in conclusion, I think it is much easier in UK.