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How to budget for baby, from a positive pregnancy test to labor + delivery

So you’re having a baby!

Life is about to get a lot more exciting (and fun! and exhausting!). But before we get to the fun stuff, let’s make sure your pregnancy is as financially stress-free as possible.


As a financial planner who focuses on helping millennials get smart about their money, I know lots of women wonder how they can budget for life once they find out they’re having a baby. I’m sharing my answers to many of FAQs I get from new moms on you can focus on having a healthy child instead of worrying about how you’re going to pay for it all.

Where do I start?

First things first: When you get the good news, call your insurance company and find out exactly what they cover, including ultrasounds and c-sections. If you have a good relationship with your OB-GYN, you could also ask them to call on your behalf. Some insurance plans will cover everything and you are just responsible for the co-pay, others will only cover part of the services you need.

How much are all these doctor visits going to cost me?

You will need to go to the doctor at least once per month while you’re pregnant and every week towards the end of the pregnancy. Even if you have good health insurance, this can add up. Once you get information from your insurance company, add up what you expect each visit to cost so you have a clear idea of the number going in and can set aside extra funds for it.

Visits for a low deductible plan with a co-pay can run you as little as $15 per visit. If you have a high deductible plan or your insurance doesn’t cover certain tests or procedures, you may have to plan for each visit costing between $150-$300.

Are there any tricks to spending less at the doctor?

If you can, pay with pre-tax dollars, If your insurance is through an employer at work and you have a low or no-deductible health plan, max out your Flex Spending Account (FSA). The max contribution in 2017 is $2,600 and you will most likely go through all of it! This will allow you to pay for doctor’s visits and other medical bills with pre-tax dollars which can save you 25 to 40% of every dollar you put in. Also, since it comes out of your paycheck before it hits your direct deposit, it’s like a secret savings account.

If you have a high deductible health plan (deductible is $2,600 or more for a family), you can contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and can contribute up to $6,650 to this account. It works similarly to an FSA, except you’re not required to spend the funds down at the end of every year. This means if you don’t use all your HSA money, you can put it towards post-baby medical care.

How can I get great maternity clothes on a budget?

It can be tempting to stock up on maternity clothes, especially as your belly starts to show (and no, these aren’t covered by your FSA!). But keep in mind that in a few months, you may be sticking them in the bottom of a suitcase. Many budget-conscious moms-to-be will buy a pair or two of maternity pants and stick to dresses and flowy shirts they can slip back into their wardrobe once the baby is out. Other mamas use sites like ThredUP which let you rock pre-loved maternity clothes at a much more affordable price point. Go wherever your budget takes you mama, but know that you can find relatively inexpensive maternity clothes, and even rock skinny jeans for about $40.

What about extras like prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are relatively inexpensive (even on the high end, a four-month supply will run you about $40) and will help ensure that you cover any nutritional gaps you may have during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the prenatal vitamins she or he recommends and buy a few bottles. Bonus! Prenatal vitamins can actually be paid for using your FSA or HSA so they’re a health and financial win.

What will childbirth education classes run me?

Especially if you’re a first time mom, it will most likely be worth it to take a few childbirth education classes so you have an idea of what to expect when you’re giving birth. Your hospital may offer these classes for low or no cost to you. Sometimes, insurance will also cover some or part of the cost (ask your insurance company this too!) You can also use your FSA or HSA to pay for the classes, as long as the class is related to the process of childbirth (which means classes on your emotional state, potential pregnancy discomforts, post-baby care, etc. won’t be covered). On the high end, you can expect a place like Stork and Cradle in NYC to cost $350 for four classes, but they also take some insurance, so it’s always worth checking out.

So, how much will labor + delivery cost?

The Big Day: Even with insurance, the average cost of actually giving birth is about $3,400, with vaginal births averaging about $2,600 and C-sections about $4,500. Most hospitals will allow you to go on a payment plan to cover the costs, but since you have nine months, see if there’s any wiggle room for you to set aside some of the money now to cover the big bills.

Ask your insurance company if they can help you estimate this amount too. Once you’ve recovered a little from the sticker shock, divide the number by nine to get an idea of what you would need to save monthly towards the hospital bills. Then cut that number in half and make it a mini-goal to save at least that amount each month so when the hospital bills do come, you’ll be able to cover a portion of them and pay significantly less interest on any funds you do need to borrow to pay for the rest of the bill.

A special note on insurance

Without insurance, it can cost between $30,000 and $50,000 (not a typo!) to give birth to a child. Luckily, with the Affordable Care Act, having a baby qualifies you to participate in a special enrollment period, and you can purchase health insurance within 60 days of conception, even if it’s not during the regular open enrollment period between November and February. Premiums range between $200 and $500 per month, depending on the plan you choose, and it’s much more manageable than going without a healthcare plan.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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