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Getting pregnant and having a child are some of life’s most exciting, scary and challenging experiences. And if you find yourself in this position, it’s important to prepare yourself as best you can.

But this goes beyond decorating the nursery and choosing the perfect baby name and preschool.

In fact, most parents don’t realize just how expensive having a child can be. Knowing about all the different costs beforehand can make a big difference in this new and wonderful experience.

How Much Will You Spend?

It’s difficult to give an exact answer because it depends on a lot of different factors. For example, where you live and what your insurance plan covers will influence the grand sum.

How you prefer to give birth, and how you actually end up giving birth also impact costs, too. But if you fall into the mid-income range, you could easily spend up to $12,000 dollars in your child’s first year, according to this report from the USDA.

The Cost of Prenatal Care

It’s impossible to give one flat rate for every woman’s prenatal care expenses.

Your prenatal costs mainly depend on whether your insurance company covers prenatal care. (In some cases, when insurance companies cover prenatal care, they consider it a form of preventative care.)

Usually, if you have health insurance through a company that employs more than 15 people, your insurance will cover maternity services.

Having this coverage can save you thousands of dollars, so it’s worth looking into as soon as possible.

How soon?

Some experts recommend finding out what your insurance covers before you even get pregnant. This is because some companies may consider your pregnancy a pre-existing condition. And if that’s the case, they may not cover you if you switch to a new company while pregnant.

Even if you have insurance to cover prenatal care, that doesn’t mean your expenses will be covered completely. So, be prepared to pay a deductible and other out-of-pocket expenses.

By speaking to your insurance company, you can better understand what these costs look like in real numbers.

Your prenatal care should also include a healthy diet. This might mean taking daily supplements, which can be quite pricey. And since birth is a new experience for first-time moms, birthing classes can be very useful.

These are all going to be new expenses in your life, so it’s important to be aware and plan accordingly.

The Cost of Giving Birth

The stork brings the baby and the bill! Different reports show different costs for birth, but one thing’s for sure: it’s not cheap.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, parents can spend $3,500 for your typical, uncomplicated vaginal birth. Other sources show that vaginal births can cost up to $9,600. Cesarean sections can increase the cost to nearly $16,000.

While the insurance may cover some expenses, you will likely have to foot some costs yourself. And spending thousands of dollars is usually something young couples aren’t prepared for.

If you opt for a home birth or a birthing center, they are generally less expensive than hospital births.

However, insurance companies don’t always cover these choices, so you might spend more of your own money if you go this route.

Planning Your Finances Before Childbirth

Once the baby’s born, at least one parent will be taking some time off. This boils down to more expenses and less income. So, the more preparation you can do before the baby arrives the better.

Here are three simple ways to do that.

  1. Get out of debt and/or refinance any debts you may have.
  1. Does your job offer paid family leave, or consider childbirth a short term disability? If so, take advantage of these benefits.
  1. Start a budget and save for child care. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, parents can spend anywhere from $3,500 to $18,000 on childcare in one year alone. As always, this figure will depend on many factors, but with a little research, you can understand the cost of your baby’s care.

How to Offset Common Expenses After the Baby’s Born

Even though there are inevitable expenses that come along with your new baby, you can offset some of them. Here’s how:

Plan a Baby Shower

Some items are absolutely necessary, and they need to be high quality and fit the latest safety requirements. You can plan a baby shower to help offset the costs of these necessities, like strollers, cribs, car seats, baby monitors, and changing tables.

Go Thrifting

Your baby doesn’t need luxurious and trendy pieces. And you can find high-quality items at a fraction of the cost at consignment stores. With a little research, parents can usually find clothing, blankets, strollers and baby monitors at a more affordable cost this way.

Hacks for Baby Necessities

How can you offset the cost for things you can’t buy second hand, like diapers, wipes, formula, and food? Babies need these, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get them.

Here are some suggestions to make it easier on your wallet.

  • Buy store brand over brand names. There is often very little difference between the well-known brand and the store brand, except their cost. If you’re satisfied with the store brand quality, take that instead.
  • Diapers can cost up to $70 a month. You can offset this by using cloth diapers, or by using them along with regular diapers.
  • You can easily spend $20-30 each month on wipes that you’ll throw away after each use. By making and reusing your own, you can save close to $360 a year.
  • The formula can cost up to $100 per month. And that’s an expensive diet for a growing baby. But if it’s possible and you’re interested, breastfeeding is free.
  • Baby foods ring in at about $50 every month, but with time and planning, you can prepare your own.

There’s no question about it. Babies are expensive, but don’t let all of these costs rob you of wonderful parenting experience.

By planning smart and early, you’ll be ready for both the baby and the bill.

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