The real cost of having a baby
I remember the morning I found out I was pregnant with my first born. I had butterflies in my tummy just thinking about how much life was going to change with a little human arriving in about eight months.
I’m not one to plan ahead, so I had no idea how much baby products would cost and what the big difference there was between a private and a public hospital.
When you fall pregnant, you are bombarded with information, from pregnancy vitamins to antenatal classes and decisions about your doctor, your birth and the hospital.
The biggest mistake I made was that I did not do enough research. I did not budget for baby products and how much I was willing to spend on my pregnancy above what my medical aid was covering.
Today everything has a hefty price tag, including the type of birth and the room you stay in. You need to plan for unexpected costs like an emergency C-section, extra hospital stay and any complications that may arise during delivery.
I am on a medical aid and even though I assumed everything would be covered, it wasn’t. I paid a hefty amount from my pocket because of the decisions I made, including the gynaecologist I chose.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ON A MEDICAL AID:
The type of medical scheme you have on your medical aid determines your benefits and the cover you will have during and after your pregnancy.
- Know your benefits. It is important to find out immediately what will be covered during this time. This way you can narrow your search for hospitals and gynaecologists in your area and work with the best rates that your medical aid can give you.
- Find out if the hospital you are going to offers a baby passport. This has some added benefits like a 4D scan and hospital bag filled with sample products for a reasonable amount.
- Many medical aids do not cover the booking fee for your bed in hospital.
- Check the amount available in your medical savings quite regularly. This can easily get exhausted.
- You will have a limited amount available for antenatal classes – if you are a first-time parent, take advantage of this.
- Most medical aid packages only cover 100 percent of the health rate for a gynaecologist/obstetrician in a key care network hospital, selected blood tests that your gynaecologist/obstetrician or GP requests and the important scans.
- Private hospital gynaecologists can charge you up to 400 percent, so you may need to pay a big portion from your own pocket for every visit.
- For some doctor’s appointments, you will need to pay cash and then claim from your medical aid.
- Gap cover was extremely important for me. It helped a lot during and after my pregnancy. Consider taking this when you start family planning. Government hospitals offer most treatments at a rate that is reasonably cheaper compared to private hospitals, with added benefits like free maternity pads etc after your delivery, but that is a big personal decision you and your partner need to make.
YOU NEED TO ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS IF YOU DON’T HAVE MEDICAL AID:
- Can I afford a private hospital?
- What’s the big difference between public and private hospitals?
- If I need to choose a public hospital, which would be a better option?
- Note the distances to and from the hospital.
- Does it matter to me where I have my baby?
I am pregnant with my third baby and from experience I can tell you that pre-and post-baby check-ups are expensive.
My gynaecologist check-ups range from R850 to R1 650, including the important fetal growth scans.
My last delivery (C-section) roughly cost me R41 000 including the “luxuries” I opted for.
SO HOW MUCH DO BABY PRODUCTS REALLY COST?
Well, if you are one of those moms who decide on brands, then you are going to pay some ridiculous amounts. A luxury pram can cost you up to R25 000, including a car seat.
I made the mistake of purchasing a pink pram for my daughter, which cost me about R18 000 and then my second born was a boy.
I’m sure this explains the rest.
- When you are purchasing baby products, try to think long-term and stick with neutrals for the big buys. This will help you save a ton of money for your next child.
- Don’t just buy something because it looks pretty. Be practical. How much space is it going to take in a room or car?
- Invest in products that will assist you by making travelling with a baby easier.
- Check out sales and baby expos – you do end up saving a little.
- Sign up for reward cards at your local stores.
- Plan and create lists before you visit a store!
- Research the brand and compare other moms' reviews before purchasing a product.
Babies are expensive!
You need to think about nappies, vaccinations (personal choice), doctor visits and medicine on a regular basis.
Every little purchase adds up, so don’t just buy something because you “think” you will need it.
I ended up spending unnecessarily for my first-born because I was sucked into believing I needed everything everyone else had for their newborns.
The truth is you don’t.
Half of the time babies don’t even like what we want them to.
They decide on the bottles and pacifiers, so don’t spend too much before baby comes.
* Shanêy Vijendranath is a parenting and lifestyle blogger.