Preparing for parenthood isn’t just tiny clothes and heartwarming ultrasound photos; it involves a lot of financial preparation. This guide will lay out the most important financial tasks on your plate from pregnancy to baby’s first years, including:
- Estimating your medical costs
- Planning leave from your job
- Budgeting for the new arrival
Some parenting preparations are best learned on the fly — how to effortlessly and painlessly change the messiest diapers, for instance. But the list of things to do before baby arrives and within his or her first several weeks is lengthy, so tackling certain tasks now is a smart idea.
1. Understand your health insurance and anticipate costs. Having a baby is expensive, even when you have health insurance. You should forecast your expected costs fairly early in the pregnancy. NerdWallet’s guide to making sense of your medical bills can help as you navigate prenatal care, labor and delivery, and the bills that will ultimately follow.
2. Plan for maternity/paternity leave. How much time you and your partner (if you have one) get off work and whether you’re paid during that period can significantly impact your household finances in the coming year. Understand your company’s policies and your state’s laws to get an accurate picture of how your maternity leave will affect your bottom line.
3. Draft your pre-baby budget. Once you know what you’ll be spending on out-of-pocket medical costs, understand how your income will be impacted in the coming months and have prepared a shopping list for your new addition, adjust your budget accordingly. Babies come with plenty of expenses, so set a limit on both necessary and optional buys (like that designer diaper bag or high-end stroller with the LCD control panel), and consider buying used to keep spending under control.
4. Plan your post-delivery budget. Recurring costs such as diapers, child care and extra food will change your household expenses for years to come. Plan for them now so you aren’t caught off guard.
5. Choose a pediatrician within your insurance network. Your baby’s first doctor appointment will come within her first week of life, so you’ll want to have a physician picked out. Talk to friends and family to get recommendations, call around to local clinics and ask to interview a pediatrician before you make your choice. In searching for the right doctor, don’t forget to double-check that he or she is within your insurance network. Ask the clinic, but verify by calling your insurance company so you’re not hit with unexpected out-of-network charges.
6. Start or check your emergency fund. If you don’t already have a “rainy day fund,” now’s the time to anticipate some emergencies. Kids are accident prone, and with the cost of raising a child there’s no telling if you’ll have the disposable income to pay for any unexpected expenses. Having at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses covered is a great place to start.
While in the hospital
The main focus while you’re in the hospital is having a healthy baby. But there are a few loose ends that will need to be taken care of.
7. Order a birth certificate and Social Security card. Hospital staffers should provide you with the necessary paperwork to get your new child’s Social Security number and birth certificate. If they don’t or if you are having a home birth, contact your state’s office of vital records for the birth certificate and your local Social Security office to get a Social Security card.
Within baby’s first 30 days
8. Add your child to your health insurance. In most cases, you have 30 days from your child’s birth date to add him to an existing health insurance policy. In some employer-based plans, you have 60 days. Regardless, do it sooner rather than later, as you don’t want to be caught with a sick baby and no coverage.
9. Consider a life insurance policy on your child. No one expects the tragedy of losing a child, so many parents don’t plan for it. The rates are generally low because a child’s life insurance policy is used to cover funeral costs and little else. When it comes to covering children, a “term” policy that lasts until they are self-sufficient is the most popular choice.
10. Begin planning for child care. Finding the right day care or nanny can take weeks. Get started long before your maternity leave is over. You’ll need time to visit day care centers or interview nannies, as well as complete an application and approval process if required.
Beyond the first month
You’ll be in this parenting role for years to come, so planning for the future is crucial. Estate planning is a big part of providing for your children, but it isn’t the only important forward-focused task to check off your list.
11. Adjust your beneficiaries. Assuming you already have life insurance for yourself or the main breadwinner in your household — and if you don’t, you should — you may want to add your child as a beneficiary. The same goes for your 401(k) and IRAs. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to make adjustments elsewhere to ensure when and how your child will have access to the money. A will and/or trust can accomplish this.
12. Disability insurance. You’re far more likely to need disability insurance than life insurance. Make sure you have the right amount of coverage — enough to meet your expenses if you’re out of work for several months. Remember, your monthly living expenses have gone up since the new addition.
13. Write or adjust your will. Tragic things happen and you want to ensure your child is taken care of in the event that one or both parents die. Designate a guardian so the courts don’t have to. Your will is only one part of estate planning, but it’s a good place to begin.
14. Keep funding your retirement. When a child arrives, it’s easy to forget your personal goals and long-term plans in light of this huge responsibility. Stay on top of your retirement plans so your child doesn’t have to support you in old age.
15. Save for his or her education. College is costly, but you can make it more manageable by starting to save early.
Adding a new member to your family comes with a lengthy list of responsibilities, so don’t try to do them all at once. Prioritize and tackle the most important items on your financial to-do list first. Because medical bills and insurance claims will be some of the first financial obligations you’ll encounter while expecting, start there. Move on to budgeting for pregnancy and the first several months of your baby’s life.
With 18 or more years until your little one leaves home, time would seem to be on your side. But — as the saying goes — blink and he’s grown. Now is the time to start taking the steps that will set your family up for financial success.
The profession of midwifery has evolved with today’s modern health care system. But there are many myths about midwives in the United States based on centuries-old images or simple misunderstandings. You might be surprised to learn the truth about some of these common midwifery myths.
FALSE. Most midwives in the United States have a master’s degree and are required to pass a national certification exam. There are many different types of midwives, each holding different certifications based on their education and/or experience. Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) attend approximately 93% of all midwife-attended births in the United States, and as of 2010 they are required to have a master’s degree in order to practice midwifery.
TRUE. CNMs and CMs work with all members of the health care team, including physicians. Midwifery care fits well with the services provided by obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs), who are experts in high risk, medical complications, and surgery. By working with OB/GYNs, midwives can ensure that a specialist is available if a high-risk condition should arise. Likewise, many OB/GYN practices include midwives who specialize in care for women through normal, healthy life events. In this way, all women can receive the right care for their individual health care needs.
FALSE. Midwives have expert knowledge and skill in caring for women through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. But they also do much more. CNMs and CMs provide health care services to women in all stages of life, from the teenage years through menopause, including general health check-ups, screenings and vaccinations; pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care; well woman gynecologic care; treatment of sexually transmitted infections; and prescribing medications, including all forms of pain control medications and birth control.
TRUE. CNMs and CMs are licensed to prescribe a full range of substances, medications, and treatments, including pain control medications and birth control. They can also order needed medical tests within their scope of practice and consistent with state laws and practice guidelines.
Midwives cannot care for me if I have a chronic health condition or my pregnancy is considered high-risk.
FALSE. Midwives are able to provide different levels of care depending on a woman’s individual health needs. If you have a chronic health condition, a midwife still may be able to provide some or all of your direct care services. In other cases, a midwife may play a more of a supportive role and help you work with other health care providers to address your personal health care challenges. In a high-risk pregnancy, a midwife can help you access resources to support your goals for childbirth, provide emotional support during challenging times, or work alongside specialists who are experts in your high-risk condition to ensure safe, healthy outcomes.
TRUE. Midwives are leading experts in how to cope with labor pain. As a partner with you in your health care, your midwife will explain pain relief options and help you develop a birth plan that best fits your personal needs and desires. Whether you wish to use methods such as relaxation techniques or movement during labor or try IV, epidural, or other medications, your midwife will work with you to help meet your desired approach to birth. At the same time, your midwife will provide you with information and resources about the different options and choices available if any changes to your birth plan become necessary or if you change your mind.
FALSE. Midwives practice in many different settings, including hospitals, medical offices, free-standing birth centers, clinics, and/or private settings (such as your home). In fact, because many women who choose a midwife for their care wish to deliver their babies in a hospital, many hospitals in the United States offer an in-house midwifery service. And because midwives are dedicated to one-on-one care, many practice in more than one setting to help ensure that women have access to the range of services they need or desire and to allow for specific health considerations. In 2012, about 95% of births attended by midwives in the United States were in hospitals.
Many women including myself have swayed through life not understanding why we suffer from health disparities. We often face issues like PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PMS, Fibroids, experience miscarriages, and infertility for years without understanding why and usually are told to treat the pain and discomfort with drugs rather than being educated about the cause of the syndrome and encouraged to create a lifestyle suited for our personal predispositions.
An exam may be necessary
I was once lucky enough to have visited the most prestigious Emergency room I have ever been to. While living in Thomasville, NC when I started feeling lower abdominal pain in fear of it being cyst like I’ve had before, I was referred to an OB-GYN that was adequately trained. This OB was doing my follow up and wanted to thoroughly exam my pelvis to understand why I was having pain near my ovaries. After I mentioned having once suffered a horrific burst of an ovarian cyst that left me on bed rest for almost a month; She wanted to rule out all worst case scenarios. This doctor felt a sonogram was not sufficient therefore she went on to perform a vaginal sonogram on me. It was a bit nerve wrecking for me because I was not sexually active at the time but the information she provided me with during this exam made the whole examination worth it. My boyfriend at the time held my hand through the exam and made the experience less dreadful. This doctor proceeded to educate me about my uterus being retroverted.
A retroverted uterus (tilted uterus, tipped uterus) is auterus that is tilted posteriorly. This is in contrast to the slightly “anteverted” uterus that most women have, which is tipped forward toward the bladder, with the anterior end slightly concave.
Generally, a retroverted uterus does not cause any problems. If problems do occur, it will probably be because the woman has an associated disorder like endometriosis. A disorder like this could cause the following symptoms:
- Painful sexual intercourse
- The woman-on-top position during sex usually causes the most discomfort
- Period pain (particularly if the retroversion is associated with endometriosis).
- Natural variation – generally, the uterus moves into a forward tilt as the woman matures. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen and the uterus remains tipped backwards.
- Adhesions – an adhesion is a band of scar tissue that joins two (usually) separate anatomic surfaces together. Pelvic surgery can cause adhesions to form, which can then pull the uterus into a retroverted position.
- Endometriosis – the endometrium is the lining of the uterus. Endometriosis is the growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus. These cells can cause retroversion by ‘gluing’ the uterus to other pelvic structures.
- Fibroids – these small, non-cancerous lumps can make the uterus susceptible to tipping backwards.
- Pregnancy – the uterus is held in place by bands of connective tissue called ligaments. Pregnancy can overstretch these ligaments and allow the uterus to tip backwards. In most cases, the uterus returns to its normal forward position after childbirth, but sometimes it doesn’t.
In most cases of retroverted uterus, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are tipped backwards too. This means that all of these structures can be ‘butted’ by the head of the penis during intercourse. This is known as ‘collision dyspareunia’. The woman-on-top position usually causes the most pain. It is possible for vigorous sex in this position to injure or tear the ligaments surrounding the uterus.
In most cases, a retroverted uterus doesn’t interfere with pregnancy. After the first trimester, the expanding uterus lifts out of the pelvis and, for the remainder of the pregnancy, assumes the typical forward-tipped position.
In a small percentage of cases, the growing uterus is ‘snagged’ on pelvic bone (usually the sacrum). This condition is known as ‘incarcerated uterus’. The symptoms usually occur somewhere between weeks 12 and 14, and can include pain and difficulties passing urine.
- A retroverted uterus means the uterus is tipped backwards so that it aims towards the rectum instead of forward towards the belly.
- Some women may experience symptoms including painful sex.
- In most cases, a retroverted uterus won’t cause any problems during pregnancy.
- Treatment options include exercises, a pessary or surgery.
Since learning about being with a retroverted uterus I realized how my physiology differed from other women. 1 in 6 women are born with a retroverted uterus. Some may live their wholes lives not knowing unless they inquire to find out or they experience some of the disparities I was dealt. Some of the causes are, painful sex, yeast infections due to high levels of acid in your ph., and painful periods. Some women learn about having this, way into their pregnancy and if their lucky enough they will have a Doula, who will instruct them on how to minimize the nausea episodes and perhaps provide some insight on why it is detrimental to eat the right foods for a more comfortable and easy going pregnancy.
It is very important to understand that our body parts are not separated. We often lose sight of the truth being that everything is connected and in tuned especially when we are not in tuned with our own bodies. We often pop a pill an ignore aches and pains when it can very well be our body telling us to pay attention BEFORE something goes wrong. I was grateful to have learned about my beautifully unique uterus because I was able to change my diet and life style in order to prevent things like fibroids, endometriosis, PMS and more. I learned early that my diet effects my PH-balance and if my PH (hormones) are off then my body becomes a home for disease and ailments especially when I am already sensitive because of the way I was created.
Before we continue our lives not knowing how magical and intricate our bodies are I hope we can all become a bit more curious about our Uterus’ and how different they can all be. Perhaps now we can tend to our personal needs as women and not be shocked when sudden issues begin to effect our health during our child bearing years.
The good news is that in most cases it is possible to have a baby if you have one of these uterine abnormalities:
This is an uncommon abnormality where the uterus has two inner cavities. Each cavity may lead to its own cervix and vagina. This means there are two cervixes and two vaginas. It affects about one in 350 women.
A unicornuate uterus is half the size of a normal uterus and there is only one fallopian tube. Because of its shape, it is described as a uterus with one horn. It is a rare abnormality, affecting about one in 1,000 women. It develops in the earliest stages of life, when the tissue that forms the uterus does not grow properly. If you have a unicornuate uterus, you probably have two ovaries but only one will be connected to your uterus.
Instead of being pear-shaped, this type of uterus looks more like a heart, with a deep indentation at the top. It is called a uterus with two horns, because of its shape. It’s thought that fewer than one woman in 200 women has a bicornuate uterus.
This is where the inside of the uterus is divided by a muscular or fibrous wall, called the septum. About one woman in 45 women is affected. The septum may extend only part way into the uterus (partial septate uterus) or it may reach as far as the cervix (complete septate uterus). Partial or subseptates are more common than complete septates. A septate uterus may make it more difficult for you to conceive.
This looks more like a normal uterus, except it has a dip, or slight indentation at the top. It is a common abnormality, affecting about a quarter of women.
About one in six women have a uterus that tilts backwards toward the spine (retroverted uterus). This is not an abnormality. It won’t affect how your baby grows, although it may mean your bump starts to show later than for other women.