No matter what your situation is or where you live, with the right strategies, you can still afford to have a baby without breaking the bank.
Tough times Medical aid Birth & baby costs Rising food costs.
Bank collapses. The credit crunch. Job cuts. It seems like it’s bad news everywhere but there are some bits of good news – interest-rate cuts and those two blue lines in the window of your pregnancy test kit.
If you’re like most new or expecting parents (or even if you’re just thinking about having a baby) you’re probably wondering how, exactly, you can afford to raise your child.
But despite these fiscally turbulent times, there’s plenty you can do to reduce the cost of having a baby. We talked to experts about ways to make having a baby more affordable, even if you don’t make much money or you live in an expensive area.
To start, following these rules will help you keep your head when those all around you are losing theirs. keep your perspective “When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s absolutely, completely normal to say to yourself, ‘How in the world am I going to pull this off?’” says Amanda Clayman, a financial therapist and the mother of a toddler.
“Human beings have a process when faced with something that feels out of control – we freeze up for a second while we try to get our bearings.” The key to maintaining control, says Clayman, is to slow down that process and think reflectively rather than reflexively.
This, she says, will help you avoid anxiety and all-or-nothing reasoning. “It’s not a choice between your baby sleeping in an R4000 cot or a drawer,” she says.
Safe and affordable middle-ground options abound. Ask around, look around, and don’t get caught up in thinking the most expensive option is the only option.
learn to let go
Clayman also notes that having a baby means relinquishing some of the control you’re used to – financial and otherwise. “A lot of times, when people are faced with a new, unfamiliar experience, they try to create structure as a way of dealing with their anxiety,” she says.
“Sometimes that’s healthy and productive – if it takes the form of gathering information about childbirth or anticipating a baby’s needs and planning ways to meet them, for example.
But planning can only go so far; sometimes you just have to get comfortable with the unknown. For instance, what if you can’t breastfeed as planned but you didn’t budget for formula? You can’t control everything.” consider the unthinkable Financial coach Cindy Morus also recommends thinking about what would happen if you or your partner lost your job.
“When you’re evaluating whether to buy something, don’t just ask yourself whether you can afford it – ask yourself whether you could afford it if one of you didn’t have a job.” Losing a job, by the way, might not be the end of the world, says Morus, especially considering that one parent may choose not to return to work after having a baby. “It does cost money to work – child care, clothing, and dry cleaning, transport costs, taxes, maybe having someone help clean the house, eating out more.
It all adds up
get practical Smart spending starts when you’re pregnant, says Connie Brooks, a family’s financial advisor. Brooks recommends using your baby shower/registry strategically: “You’ll get plenty of layette items no matter what you register for, so don’t put them on your registry,” she says.
“Instead, pick out a few nice items – a cot that turns into a toddler bed, a baby swing, a car seat, a stroller, and a carrier or sling. Then let people know that it would mean a lot to you if they pitched in together on those items.” Morus also suggests taking a page from your grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ book.
“The things we think of as necessities today – cellphones, extra TVs, extra cars – people didn’t have them back then. So evaluate what you’re really getting for your money, and make a habit of putting whatever money you don’t spend into savings, even if it’s just R50 a month.”
And don’t be shy about asking friends, neighbors, and relatives for outgrown toys or clothes that are in good condition. “Passing on baby items is a rite of motherhood,” says Brooks, “and there’s no reason to pay for something you can get gently used for free.”
Just make sure everything meets today’s safety standards. work out solutions together Communication with your partner is essential, Morus says. “Talk about money – what you want and how you’re going to work together to do it. This is important because divorce is the biggest financial mistake you can make.”
Tough times Medical aid Birth & baby costs the highs and lows of medical aids If your pregnancy was planned, you’ll (hopefully) have checked your medical aid before you threw away your pill and assessed whether it will give you sufficient benefits to see you through pregnancy and childbirth.
This might mean upgrading from a hospital plan to one that offers more comprehensive coverage, transferring it to your partner’s name, or joining his medical aid if you’re not planning on returning to work. All medical aids have annual cut-off dates for switching plans and you can’t upgrade until the next year if you miss this window period.
With most medical aids, it’s a case of “you get what you pay for”. Typically, a medical aid staggers benefits it offers based on the option you choose and the contribution you make.
A cheaper plan may only cover the basics and could rule out the option of an elective Caesarean, while a top plan may even cover the cost of a doula.
Ideally, a couple planning to have a child should be on a plan that offers comprehensive cover, which provides for in-hospital and out-of-hospital expenses with unlimited hospital benefits and covers hospitalization.
If there is a maternity program (you need to register for the program between 15 and 20 weeks), you might get added benefits and discounts on anything from antenatal classes to car seats. how rates work It’s confusing but, in a nutshell, there are two basic price structures.
The first, which we’ll call “medical-aid rates”, are the prices your medical aid decides to pay for consultations and procedures, which are based on a price list issued by the Department of Health. The second is “private rates”, which are a guideline of fees published for health practitioners by The Health Professions Council of South Africa.
The rates your doctor chooses to charge can be up to three times higher than the medical-aid rates. The medical plan you are on will determine what percentage of the bill it will pay. So what does this mean for you?
If you have a cheaper plan that covers only 100 percent of the medical-aid rates, you might have to cough up to bridge the gap of what the doctor charges. If you only have a hospital plan or are not covered by 300 percent of your medical-aid rates, inform your doctor and he may negotiate a cash discount or reduced rate. need to know…
Don’t forget to register your baby with your medical aid within 30 days of the birth or you may have to pay for your baby’s hospital stay. Your medical aid could also subject your baby to waiting periods, meaning big bills if he or she needs medical care.
Check if your doctor will bill the medical aid directly or if you have to pay upfront. The delay in reimbursement can lead to a cash-flow crisis.
If you are not on a medical scheme and are pregnant, sign up anyway. The birth will be excluded but, when the baby is born, he or she will be covered. antenatal care Health care is free for pregnant women in the public sector (if you are not on medical aid) but, in the private sector, most medical-aid plans will cover only two antenatal scans and 10 to 12 check-ups, while further testing and scans, consultations and medication you may need will come out of your day-to-day benefits, which have a limit.
Even some hospital plans will pay for up to 12 antenatal visits if you sign up for their maternity program.
Some medical aids are more progressive and even include contributions for antenatal classes. costs Blood tests to confirm pregnancy R90 HIV R115 Antenatal classes R400-R700 Foetal assessment tests: 13-week scan R750; 22-week scan R950; amniocentesis (if needed) R1200 Antenatal visits: midwife, initial visit R250, R150 thereafter; obstetrician (depends on your doctor), R850 for the initial visit, R280 thereafter, plus R420 if a scan is performed.
Birth & baby costs
Tough times Medical aid Birth & baby costs You don’t always have the luxury of choosing your birth plan, but it’s good to know what the different outcomes will set you back anyway. Cesarean costs nearly twice as much as a vaginal birth with a midwife in a hospital and home birth are cheaper than hospital birth.
Having a natural birth with a midwife is by far the most cost-effective way to have a baby but it doesn’t mean your quality of care is any less if you choose this route, says midwife Kate Christie.
Nonetheless, some medical aids will pay a gynecologist’s full private rates, but will only pay a midwife the lower medical rate, meaning you have to pay the top-up. Do not assume your medical aid will pay for a doula either, although some top plans do.
Your midwifery fee may or may not include the hire of birthing stools and baths.
You probably won’t even see the bill for your stay in a general hospital ward, consumables, and the theatre costs of your birth, as this is usually settled between the hospital and the medical aid directly.
However, many medical aids won’t cover a private room. Remember to verify the checkout time of your hospital to avoid being charged an extra day’s stay.
Again, the plan you are on will determine what is covered, but should you require an emergency Caesarean or other intervention (such as an epidural), the difference between your medical aid’s rates and the fees charged could run into quite a few thousand rands. After-hours procedures may also have surcharges, which might not be covered by your medical aid.
If you’re having a home birth, expect to pay R200 extra for consumables such as a cord clamp and a vitamin K injection, and a further R300 or so if you require stitches. Your midwife may also require a deposit of up to R2000 payable at 36 weeks.
Having your baby “semi-private” at a government hospital will cost R4500 for a natural birth, plus R634 per day you spend in the hospital. costs Obstetrician (delivery and obstetric care) R1876-R5629 (may be up to R8000 if you have a Caesarean) Paediatrician (newborn attendance and hospital follow-up) R544-R1634 Anaesthetist (assessment, epidural) R400-R1200 (plus R265-R800 if you have a Caesar) Private hospital stay and nursery care: vaginal birth R8200 (three days), Caesarean R12500 (four days) Home or hospital birth with midwife R4600; doula R1200 shopping for baby When you have your first baby, you’ll want to give it the best you can afford.
But you can save a lot of money by putting aside your ideas of what is the best and accepting hand-me-downs or loans with open arms.
Apart from car seats and cot mattresses (which you are advised to buy new), anything that isn’t broken and has had a good clean is good enough.
Besides, it’s environmentally friendly to recycle. Entering a baby shop can be overwhelming. Take along someone who has had a baby to help you choose your baby gear and advise you on the best choices – buying the cheapest or most expensive item is not always the best idea.
Experienced moms are the best people to tell you what worked for them. What does a baby need?
Quite simply, a newborn baby needs warmth, food, and love. Put practically, that means clothing and bedding, breastmilk or bottle and formula, somewhere to sleep, and lots of cuddles.
Of course, you must have a car seat to transport your baby, nappies and clothing, a cot, a pram to push the baby in, or a sling to carry him in. We want the rest but much of it is not essential.