I’m about half-way through the pregnancy and wanted to report in about what it’s cost to be pregnant, and what I’ve learned about the costs of pregnancy. There were the obvious things that I expected to spend money during the pregnancy. You know, things like, maternity clothes (which I didn’t end up spending much on) and a zillion appointments… but other expenses caught me by surprise. Things like, prenatal vitamins have turned out to be shockingly pricey at $40 a bottle. I know there are over-the-counter versions but since this is my first time doing this I’m being super careful and taking the prescription ones. Once the baby is born I’ll probably switch to the over-the-counter ones since I don’t think it seems as vital at that point (maybe I’m wrong about that?). Oh, and then there’s that thing about me wanting to eat ALL THE FOOD. Turns out, that adds up quick!
What I’ve learned about the cost of pregnancy and some tips to save money during the pregnancy and birth…
#1. Get pregnant at the tail-end of your friends pregnancies
Something that I hadn’t planned on was getting pregnant towards the middle to tail end as a lot of my pregnant friends (and sister). This means that I have been able to borrow a ton of maternity clothes and other random things from them. So, if you can get pregnant towards the middle/end of your friend’s pregnancies do it:) They will also be able to give you invaluable insights into what you really need and don’t need for both you and the baby. Every website and blog will tell you that every pregnancy and baby is different and that your needs will be different from everyone else’s. They say that because it’s the truth. What works for them might not work for you. The best thing about having friends/family members go through the pregnancy and birth before you is that there is a higher likelihood that they’ll have a similar lifestyle to you. You don’t want to take buying advice from someone who buys everything brand-name and brand-new if you err on the side of being a minimalist who’s totally okay with used stuff. See what I mean?
#2. Give birth at the end of your insurance companies fiscal year
Another surprise in the whole cost department is the actual birth. Turns out, many hospitals and birthing centers require the cost of the birth to be paid for before the birth. I don’t know what that’s all about but it seems to be the norm (does anyone know what that’s all about?). So around the 32 week mark they want 80% of the anticipated cost and then a few weeks later, still before the birth, they want the remaining 20%. The whole pre-pay thing wasn’t something we knew about but we lucked out because our insurance companies fiscal year restarts in January. Having a baby due in November means that we’ve been able to meet most of the required deductible (by the time the baby is born we will have met the entire requirement) so our out-of-pocket cost will be far less than if we had the baby in January. In turn, our anticipated pre-pay cost of birth is less since we’ve met so much of the required deductible at this point. If there’s anyway you can plan to have your baby towards the end of your insurance companies fiscal year that’s a great idea. Also, some insurance plans restart in June/July so be on the look-out for that possibility.
#3. Choose a birthing center over a hospital (if you and baby are healthy and it’s a good fit)
We’ve decided to go with a free-standing birthing center rather than hospital, and it turns out, birthing center births are quite a bit less expensive than hospital births (we didn’t choose the birthing center because of the cost). At birthing centers you don’t have anesthesia, doctors, or a long hospital stay so the cost is significantly less than that of a hospital.
(Where and how people give birth is a super personal decision. I respect everyone’s decision to do what you need/want to do to birth your babies the way that you need/want to. Ultimately, we all have to do what we feel is right for ourselves. We’re open to a hospital birth for ourselves, if it’s needed, but so far everything is looking good and healthy for me and the baby so we’re sticking with the birthing center as the plan. We ask that you please respect our decision… )
#4. Get a doula in training
Doula’s are kind of like informed, educated, super supportive, cheerleaders who help women labor. Their prices range from $300 to over $1000 depending on their experience and where you live. There is a doula that came highly recommended so I called her up and that’s when she told me that she charges $950. That was completely over what we thought we wanted to spend and she must have sensed my shock/hesitancy at the price so she started telling me about a doula/mentor program that she and another doula run. In exchange for letting the doula-in-training be with us during the birth we get her and the mentor’s services free of charge. The doula-in-training has been through all of the required classes and certifications and assisting at a number of actual births if one of the last requirements. We still need to meet with them and discuss the details but so far, that’s the plan regarding the doula.
#5. Take advantage of the free breast pump through your insurance
This is a new thing that is available to most insurance holders now because of Obamacare. I would recommend calling your insurance company before you have the baby. Our insurance (United) offers two different pumps (both are over $200) and the one that I would like to get is back-ordered. Also, they won’t actually send you the breast pump until the baby is born so that means you’re looking at getting the actual pump quite awhile after the baby is born (maybe 30 days after). They have paperwork that needs to be filled out so I’m going to have that ready to be sent as soon as I can so the process can get underway without delay once the baby gets here. If you don’t have insurance I’ve heard that you can get used breast-pumps and just replace the tubing. I’m not sure how that works exactly but it sounds like it could be a good option, if needed.
How it shakes out…
Overall, I’d say we’ve done pretty good and have spent a low to moderate amount on the pregnancy. While I don’t have an exact number, I would guess that it’s under $650. That includes: some maternity clothes, ultrasound co-pays, prenatal vitamins, more food than I would usually eat, birth/breastfeeding/newborn care classes (most expensive thing at this point), a prenatal massage (had to), a couple of prenatal yoga classes, 2 pairs of new shoes (my feet grew/flattened to an extra a size-and-a-half= omg!), cocoa butter, body pillow, and random/miscellaneous things that I normally wouldn’t have bought had I not been pregnant.
This article was recently posted by the New York Times and highlights the cost of childbirth in American: American Way of Birth, Cosliest in the World and this infographic is really eye-opening too: Royal Baby Puts Cost of Giving Birth in the U.S. to Shame.
Do you have any tips for me? Thoughts/ideas/other ways to save money on the pregnancy or birth that I don’t know about? I’d love your insights and advice.