Financing Pregnancy

Can You Afford to Have a Baby?

Couple discusses pregnancy costs
Photo © LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images

While many people think that most of the decisions to have a family are purely medical, taking into consideration the financial obligations of pregnancy and children is well advised. You may hear people retort when told you're waiting to be more financially secure before having children that there is never a perfect time, financially or otherwise. They may even say that if you wait you will never have children.

Insurance Concerns

Just as I would advise a preconceptional health check-up prior to pregnancy, it's also wise to give your insurance a check-up.

Call your current company and ask about maternity benefits.

Some good questions to ask:

  • Figure out co-payments versus paying a certain percentage.
  • What types of practitioners will they cover (perinatologist, FP, OB, midwife)?
  • Will they cover routine procedures and blood work in pregnancy?
  • Will they cover specific testing (Amniocentesis, AFP, etc.)? If not, will they cover it under certain conditions?
  • Will they cover prescriptions? If so to what extent? Co-pay?
  • What are your responsibilities for notifying them of admittance to the hospital or birth center?
  • Will they cover childbirth classes?
  • Will they cover doula services?
  • Are there particular facilities that you must use (hospitals, birth centers, labs)?
  • What newborn care will they cover (routine, NICU, circumcision, etc.)?
  • Will they cover lactation support or consultants?
  • Do they offer postpartum assistance in the form of visiting nurses, postpartum doulas or house care?

Sometimes you will find that you need to consider changing insurances or plans within your company. Many companies will have an open enrollment period.

If you are planning a pregnancy look in to this prior to the enrollment period so that you can take advantage of the timing, even if you are not intending to get pregnant until later in that coverage year.


Many couples are without insurance or are choosing to pay for expenses out of pocket, either to be in a facility or with a provider that they prefer.

Self-pay is difficult in some areas because many practitioners will not accept you into their practice without insurance. That leaves you with fewer choices in practitioners. Others are very friendly and open to working with you. Payment plans should be discussed initially and something should be found that you can both agree on.

If you are having a hospital or birth center birth you will probably need to make separate plans for payment with them. There has been much debate over pre-payment of epidural anesthesia for labor. This varies from facility to facility as does the amount. If you do not use the epidural in labor the money is then refunded. Average costs right now are about $1200 for the epidural alone.

Some couples have great insurance that would cover nearly all of the costs of having a baby, but they have such a limited selection of facilities and practitioners that they choose to pay for the birth out of their own pocket to have the facility or practitioner that they want.

Costs in Pregnancy

Once you get your clinical concerns out of the way you need to think about what it will cost you to be pregnant. Will you have sick leave or maternity leave available if you need it or if your pregnancy becomes high risk? What will you be paid, if anything, during these periods?

Maternity clothes. Hey, they aren't cheap, but you don't have to spend an arm and a leg either. Financing a wardrobe can be less costly if you borrow from your family and friends, shop for clothes on sale or at consignment shops and yard sales. Some women even do a really great job of making their own maternity clothes.

Some women will spend as little as $100 on maternity clothes, while others will spend thousands. Mostly this depends on your type of employment and your budget.

Books. If you're like me you probably spent more on books during pregnancy and parenting than clothes! I suppose we can add software to that list nowadays. Again friends and family come in very handy here, as well as your local library. Many childbirth educators and doulas offer lending libraries.

Baby Bargains

This is the one that people spend the most time thinking about. This involves the cost of the nursery, car seat, outfits, diapers, etc. And this can really add up.

What exactly will your baby need? Talk to other parents and find out what they really have used and what they haven't. Also realize that your baby may be totally different. Your baby might hate a swing, while your neighbor's child practically lives there. Take a test drive! That means wait until baby is here and then let baby decide which s/he prefers.

Here is a list of some items that are almost necessary for babies:

  • Outfits
  • Diapers
  • Car Seat
  • Stroller
  • Sling or other carrier

Items that are possibly handy to have:

  • Changing Table
  • High chair
  • Swing
  • Baby Monitor
  • Bassinet
  • Crib/Cradle

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