If you're thinking about having a baby, you're probably thinking of the joy of holding your newborn in your arms -- not the financial costs.
But sooner or later, you run into the expenses involved with a pregnancy. And although the experience of becoming a parent is priceless, you'll also want to make sure your money is well spent.
From the price of diapers to the going rate for a cesarean section, here's the bottom line on what it costs to have a baby, as well as how to save wisely on those costs.
The Price of a Healthy Pregnancy
It's easy to get excited about buying baby supplies. But your top priority for pregnancy spending should be on health -- of mother and baby.
"Early and continuous prenatal care is essential both before and throughout your pregnancy to help ensure a healthy delivery and healthy baby," says Jeanne Conry, MD, an obstetrician with Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, Calif.
If you have health insurance, prenatal visits and any diagnostic tests (such as ultrasounds) will likely be covered. They are generally considered "preventive" care.
If you don't have health insurance, the average cost of prenatal care is about $2,000.
One of the most important parts of prenatal care is a prenatal vitamin. You need one that contains at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid to help prevent neural tube birth defects.
This is one cost you should start paying even before you get pregnant. About half of all pregnancies are surprises. So all women of childbearing age should take a multivitamin that contains folic acid, Conry says.
For an over-the-counter option, the cost ranges from $10 to $20. If it's prescribed by your doctor and covered by your insurance you'll pay whatever the co-pay price is. Either way, this could be one of the most important pregnancy investments you make.
Preparing for Baby
Shopping for a newborn baby can be overwhelming. You don't want to go overboard on expensive baby luxuries that aren't must-haves.
"There are thousands of baby products on the market for new moms to consider, but frankly speaking, most are nice-to-haves," says Lori Hill, a certified doula in Williamsburg, Va.
You should first focus on what you and your baby must have, she says. Then figure out how much you have left over to spend on accessories.
Some basic supplies to consider buying include:
- Car seat
- Diapers and wipes
- Changing table
- A few baby clothes to get you started
- Baby monitor
A thrifty parent can buy these for about $450 by shopping for bargains.
But don't sacrifice safety to save a buck, especially on the car seat and crib. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you avoid older, used car seats to get maximum protection for your child. Use cribs certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).