These bullet points have come about through my experience with my pregnancy and could differ greatly from your experience. Most of these I’ve had to learn the hard way (but thankfully not all). When you think that you’re ready for a baby, it’s easy to miss all of the hidden fees and fine print until you get hit in the face with them. This is my attempt to help others, so that they won’t be in the same position as I was (and I thought I was ready to have a baby). If you can think of anything to add, please share! I think that we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.
- Have insurance – and good insurance if you can get it, the lower your deductible and percentage that you have to pay, the better.
- Know how much your insurance deductible is, and have that money on hand ready to go. Your doctor might have you pay it upfront (mine did), or after the baby is born, each practice is different.
- Find out if your insurance deductible will cover all of your doctor costs, if it doesn’t, find out what the difference is (usually it’s not much more than your deductible or at least mine wasn’t).
- Estimate the type cost for the type of birth you’re having: i.e. a hospital birth (around $7000 before insurance for a vaginal birth, a C-Section cost can go anywhere from $14,000 – $25,000 before insurance) or Birthing Center (around $4000 before insurance) or home birth (I have no idea what that cost is) and have that money on hand ready to go. Your doctor’s or midwive’s billing center should be able to tell you a rough estimate (they don’t like to be specific), and all the birthing centers that I’ve seen list their costs online, and if they don’t you can easily call and ask. These are rough estimates that don’t include things like epidurals or other medications, and it can often differ greatly depending on where you live.
- Find out your maternity benefits (if any) and plan for your maternity leave. If you don’t receive any benefits make sure you will have enough money to cover at least 6 weeks of unpaid leave (or more if you can afford it), no matter what, by law (in the US) you’re allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and more if your employers are awesome.
- If you don’t have any maternity benefits, look into getting disability insurance on your own, so that you can be covered after the baby is born. I’m fairly center that if you’re already pregnant, it’s too late to get this. Also, it’s fairly expensive so be sure to weigh the cost to see if it’s worth it. Also also, be sure that your state recognizes maternity leave as a disability (some don’t).
- Estimate the cost of the birthing classes that you want to take (and yes, you NEED to take them). The ones offered by your doctor’s office or hospital are way cheaper than ones like Hynobirthing, Lamaze or the Bradley Method. However, those aren’t as in depth as the higher cost classes, and therefore may not prepare you adequately, or help you achieve the type of birth that you want.
- If you want a doula, find out how much they cost (usual range is $500 – $1000). If you can’t afford a doula and want one, most will be glad to work something out with you. Most (if not all) strongly believe that any woman who wants a doula should have one, regardless of their ability to pay.
- Watch “The Business of Being Born,” followed by “More Business of Being Born.” I found these documentaries really informative and honest and I learned a lot from watching them.
- If you want a birthing pool that the hospital or birthing center or your home don’t have, you need to factor that cost in as well. You can easily rent or buy them, but if you’re renting you’ll have to get a liner for it, so keep that cost in mind as well.
- If your current doctor does not do obstetrics or you don’t like your current doctor, you need to start looking for one you do like that does obstetrics or find a midwife. Be sure to interview them too, to find out what their beliefs and practices about birth are (if you want a natural birth and they look down their nose at it – you know you’re in the wrong place, and visa verse too). If they don’t do interviews, scratch them off the list. If you’re not on the same page, scratch them off the list. If there is anything about the appointment that makes your weary – even if you can’t name what it is, scratch them off the list – you will be working very closely with this person and you want THEM on YOUR team, not the other way around.
- This one is kinda morbid, but if you and you’re partner don’t have life insurance, get it, and enough to cover all debt and then some. You’d want enough to pay off your mortgage, student loans, car loans, credit cards and any other debt you have. You probably also want to have enough so you can set some aside so the baby can go to college. Once you have that figured out, add on a little more, because you just never know.
- Also along the same lines as number 12, is to have a will made up. Not only do you need a last will and testament, but also a living will (yes, you really do need both).
- I know that this one applies only after you’re pregnant, but if you become unhappy with your health care provider, you can always switch. It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 weeks or 41 weeks pregnant, if you’re high or low risk. It’s never too late to find a doctor or midwife that will be your cheerleader.
- This one may also only apply after you’re pregnant, but write out your birth preferences. If you know you want a natural birth, that will give you a direction in which to research different birthing methods etc.
- I can’t stress this one enough: RESEARCH, RESEARCH RESEARCH!