Cost of a baby

Pregnancy is a time of joy. We tend to focus on the excitement of a new baby. There’s anxiety, too, but it’s mostly around what kind of parent we’ll be. Most of the time, we’re not thinking about how much a pregnancy will cost us. But should we?

On the face of things, pregnancy doesn’t cost much. It’s not until the baby arrives, we figure, that the costs will start to add up. The truth is, though, that if we don’t think about the expense of having a baby right from the start, or even before conception, the costs could add up. When people talk about planning a pregnancy, they don’t have this in mind – but maybe they should!

Costing out your baby before you begin

You know you want to have a baby and you’re all ready to start “trying”. Whoa there! Experts recommend you consider how and where you want to have your baby even before you get pregnant. There are different “models of care” for birth in Australia, and the cost of your pregnancy will differ, depending on which you choose. Options can vary from state to state, and even within states. Some options include:

  • In a public hospital, attended by a midwife or the obstetrician on duty
    This is the most budget-friendly option. There is no charge for labour and birth care in public hospitals, and, if you attend a clinic at the hospital, pregnancy care is also free. There may be some out-of-pocket expenses or costs for pregnancy care provided by your local GP, pathology tests, ultrasound procedures, antenatal classes.
  • In a public hospital, with a private obstetrician
    You will pay no accommodation charges if you are eligible to attend the hospital as a public patient, but there will be costs involved throughout your pregnancy and for the birth itself.

*In a private hospital, with a private obstetrician
This is the most expensive option. Private health cover is recommended if you choose this option. Check for more details on private health cover during pregnancy. The Daily Telegraph reported earlier this year that it could cost up to $20,000 to give birth in a private hospital.

If you choose a private practitioner for any aspect of your pregnancy care (see here for more details on choosing a private obstetrician (link to /parenting/family-budgeting/cost-of-pregnancy/private-obstetrician), or if you wish to have your baby in a private hospital, private health insurance is recommended. Be aware that some policies require a waiting period of up to three years before your baby’s due date. Also remember that coverage varies and that the “gap” you have to pay may prove costly. Double check that you are covered for transport by ambulance, in case of “last minute” emergencies.

The daily cost of pregnancy

At no other time in your life will your body change as much as it does during pregnancy. It can be hard to keep up! An entire new wardrobe is necessary – and while budget-friendly maternity wear is available, it’s advisable to invest in quality basics, such as maternity jeans, maternity bras and maternity leggings. These pieces will be on high rotation during your pregnancy and you may be surprised how long you are still wearing them after the birth. Look here for more information on budgeting for your maternity wardrobe.

The unexpected cost of pregnancy

While most women these days plan to stay at work right up until a few weeks before they give birth, it pays to remember that this isn’t possible for everyone. Sheer fatigue can be a factor, but so can unexpected pregnancy complications. Even morning sickness can play havoc with your wages if it’s severe, particularly if you work on a casual basis. Get your family budget in order early on, just to be on the safe side.

Then there are the little extras that you might need during your pregnancy. A high-dose vitamin supplement will cost around $30 a month. A special pregnancy massage to lift your spirits when you’re feeling large and ungainly will cost around $60-90 a pop. You might require osteopathy or physiotherapy to keep everything in working order (most health funds cover these so make the most of them). Pregnancy yoga classes are a great form of exercise for mums-to-be, at around $15 a class on average.

You’ll also need to put your unborn baby down on some childcare waiting lists, particularly if you live in high-demand areas. Many centres require a fee (around $20-25) to cover “administration costs” to put your name down, so be prepared.

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