From conception to birth: Financial strategist breaks down the cost of pregnancy

It’s advisable to set aside some money for the big-ticket items early on in your pregnancy. Picture: Serdi Nam/Pexels

It’s advisable to set aside some money for the big-ticket items early on in your pregnancy. Picture: Serdi Nam/Pexels

Published May 20, 2024


Raising a child is a rewarding journey, marked by milestones and memories that are cherished for a lifetime. However, beneath the surface of these joyful experiences lies a financial reality that can be daunting for many parents and prospective parents.

The financial responsibility is wide-ranging and it’s important to consider the costs of care during both the pregnancy and after delivery.

Lee Hancox, who leads Channel and Segment Marketing at Sanlam, has some essential advice for future parents on managing finances before, during and after having a baby.

She stresses the importance of coming up with a detailed financial plan early on.

This involves talking things through with your partner, checking in with your employer, understanding what your medical aid covers and getting advice from a financial expert.

Hancox explains that costs can vary, especially when choosing between public and private health care, different medical aid plans and the various service providers out there.

Before you even start trying for a baby, it's important to make sure your medical aid plan covers everything you'll need for pregnancy.

Watch out for waiting periods—usually, pregnancy coverage doesn't start until 12 months into your plan—and check what the limitations are.

You'll also need to put aside some money for doctors' visits and important prenatal vitamins, like folate.

You may need to consider budgeting for fertility treatment – IVF can cost up to R100,000 per cycle. Picture: Mart Production/Pexels


Not everyone's path to pregnancy is the same, and some might need to consider budgeting for fertility treatment.

Treatments, such as medication for ovarian stimulation, and procedures like intrauterine insemination could cost up to R10,000. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is another step some might need to take, which can cost up to R100,000 for each cycle.

This includes around R90,000 for the procedure and the medication, with an extra R10,000 depending on how many embryos you need to freeze — at about R1,500 for every straw. To be on the safe side, it's a good idea to budget about R100,000 for IVF.

During pregnancy

Many women might not foresee how intense those early stages of pregnancy can be. Your first medical check-up is crucial, introducing a series of health assessments to ensure you and your baby's well-being.

However, be prepared: these initial tests, including checking your blood pressure, blood sugar, immunity to German measles, and the first peek at your baby through a sonogram, could set you back by as much as R2,500 or even more, especially if your medical aid doesn't cover them.

To help navigate these early days, here's what you need to know:

Finding the right gynaecologist is essential. Look for someone reputable, with whom you feel at ease, and whose fees don't break the bank.

It's also important they share your vision for the birth process, whether you're leaning towards a natural birth or considering a C-section.

Keep in mind that antenatal visits can vary in cost.

A basic consultation may go up to R2,500, with additional appointments possibly reaching R850 each. Knowing these costs up front can save you stress later on.

It's wise to get acquainted with your medical aid's maternity coverage early to dodge any financial surprises. Also, start setting aside money for the big-ticket items your baby will need, like prams and baby cots.

These can range from a modest R500 to R10,000 plus. However, there's a silver lining: the second-hand market for baby gear is vast and vibrant. You can find high-quality items at a fraction of the cost and connect with a community of fellow moms-to-be, explained Hancox.

“Your doctor may recommend starting additional supplements like omega-3, calcium and multivitamins during this trimester. Specific pregnancy-designed products can cost up to R350 for a month's supply,” she said.

Second trimester

In this trimester, you can also opt for additional tests for foetal anomalies like Down’s syndrome. These often fall outside medical aid limits and can cost up to R2,400.

Third trimester

Expectant parents should first get a clear picture of their medical aid benefits, especially what's covered for hospital stays and understand any additional costs for extra comforts, such as choosing a private room.

Knowing these details up front can help manage finances more effectively during this important time, Hancox shared.

Antenatal classes come highly recommended, and not just for the vital childbirth and parenting information they provide.

For those looking for extra support, finding a trusted doula can make a significant difference. While there is a cost involved–starting at around R3,000–many find the investment worthwhile for the added comfort and assistance.

Just before birth

When planning for the arrival of your newborn, it's great to have a birth plan in place, but be ready for unexpected twists, such as health concerns or the need for a surgical delivery.

Financial preparation is as crucial as having your baby bag packed. The cost of welcoming your little one can vary greatly, with a normal delivery in a private hospital setting you back around R20,000, while a planned C-section could cost R25,000 and an emergency one even more.

These costs can climb, especially when specialists' fees surpass what your medical aid covers.

Talk to your obstetrician early on to understand the charges and ask about possible discounts if you're not protected by additional health insurance.

Unexpected expenses, such as an extended hospital stay or treatment for common conditions like jaundice, should also be considered in your budget.

Be kind to yourself, allowing for recovery and being vigilant for signs of post-partum depression.

Additional expenses, such as hiring a nanny, which can cost over R6,500, or daycare at more than R2,200, may be necessary investments for your well-being and that of your baby.