When a baby is on the way, there is a long list of necessary, fun, and adorable things to purchase in preparation for their arrival. From nipple cream and nursery decor to organizational totes and doctor bills, the cost can really begin to add up!
As a doula, I am committed to helping the mothers I support maintain low levels of stress during this season of growth for their family. One way to keep stress low is to maintain healthy spending habits by buying what is on your baby preparation shopping list yet saving money along the way. Here are some money-saving strategies for 4 of the big ticket items on your list!
One of the first things a midwife or doctor will recommend to an expectant mother is for her to take a prenatal multivitamin. Beyond that, there may be recommendations for taking additional supplements, such as calcium, vitamin D3, omega-3s, probiotics, electrolytes, and herbs.
When you consider the fact that you will be faithfully taking your personalized lineup of recommended supplements every day for the next several months, the cost of supplementation alone can be quite daunting! Here are a few ways to save money on your prenatal supplements.
Use Your Insurance: It may seem funny to think of your multivitamin as a prescription, but some Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) do allow you to purchase them as if they were a prescription. You might as well take advantage of this! (Side Note: Think twice before registering for a breast pump at a store, because many insurance companies will cover the cost of that too, and it can be sent right to your front door.)
Buy Large Quantities: Once you find the supplement that works for you, be ready to take advantage of sales or coupon codes by ordering several and stocking up for the next few months. Memberships (such as Costco, Sam’s Club, and Thrive Market) allow for every-day discounted purchases. Also look for larger quantity bottles, which are often priced cheaper than their smaller versions.
Spend Time Hunting: With just a few minutes of searching, you can often find the exact item you’re looking for at a competitive price! A great place to start is Vitacost. You can find most supplements and herbs on this site, and the prices are some of the lowest on the market. (For example, they sell a food-based prenatal vitamin from the company New Chapter for around $57 that typically retails for $115!) Their Set and Save order management system allows you to create a list of all your supplements and have them automatically ship out when it’s time for a refill at an even further discounted price. Even better, this site also regularly sends out coupons to those on their mailing list, which can then be applied to the Set and Save orders for greater savings.
#2. Cost of Birth
When it comes to the cost of the birth itself, this depends largely on the birth experience you have. Whether you’re planning to give birth at home or in a hospital, there are several ways for you to save!
Consider Your Facility: Generally, home births and birth centers tend to cost less than hospitals do. When comparing the cost of your top facility choices, ask yourself the following questions: Are the prenatal appointments included in the cost? What are the hidden, unexpected, or optional fees? Does your chosen facility accept your insurance? You could save thousands of dollars by choosing one that works with your insurance provider. If you have several months to plan ahead, you can try this approach: Find the birth center that you love and ask which insurance they recommend. They can tell you which ones work best with them, and you can try to get that insurance during the next open-enrollment season. If your insurance does not cover a birthing center then you could try contacting your or your spouse’s Human Resources department and asking if they would consider covering it. Some companies will work with the insurance provider and receive permission for coverage. I recommend that you listen to The Birthful Podcast, Episode #95 “Birth Finances, with Nate Dallas.” In this episode, the speaker goes into detail about how you could potentially save thousands of dollars (specifically when planning to give birth in a hospital).
Know the Difference between Low Risk/No Complications and High-Risk/Complications: If your midwife of OBGYN determines that your pregnancy is considered high risk – or if complications arise at any time – there may be extra costs associated with measures of caution, additional tests, special appointments, a change of plans, etc. The best way to avoid these unforeseen costs is to live in a way that decreases the chance of risk and complications and to research your options when unexpected circumstances do arise. (Accounting for a category of “Miscellaneous Birth Costs” in your budget can also be helpful in the case that extra costs are unavoidable.)
#3. Baby Essentials
Let’s face it, in America, we use A LOT of baby gear. From tricked-out strollers to well-equipped diaper survival bags, the list of baby essentials can be seemingly endless!
What is “essential” will vary from one parent to another. If you’ve watched the documentary Babies (available on Netflix), you’ll know just how vastly it can vary! In fact, if you haven’t seen it already, watching it can be a great way to destress while you’re browsing for items to add to your baby registry. It follows the lives of 4 babies from birth to age 2 – all from very different parts of the world.
Use Your Registry to Prioritize: If you start your baby registry early on in your pregnancy, you can use it as a complete baby essentials list! As the months go on, identify the most important, immediate, and expensive needs to purchase yourself. Once you purchase each item, remove it from your registry! This will help you prioritize your purchases rather than buying items out of whim that could have been saved for your friends and family. It will also ensure that your friends and family have plenty of variety to choose from when they’re picking out the items they want that fit within their budgets.
Get Creative with Your Registry: Babylist is a wonderful baby registry that allows you to link all of your registries together, add products from any website (think Etsy!), and add services on top of that! Will you need help cleaning your home? How about dog walking or meal preparation? Could you use some gifted babysitting for your older children while you rest, recover, and bond with baby? You can even add a spot for loved ones to give towards the out-of-pocket cost of your birth center, midwife, and doula services!
Think with the Future in Mind: Rather than buying a bassinet, consider choosing a convertible baby crib that could be transformed into a toddler bed. Keeping in mind just how quickly your Little Lilac will sprout from a tiny baby to a bouncy toddler, look for clothing that adapts with time, such as the Wild Carrots line. Since babies grow so incredibly fast, it can help to buy gender neutral onesies for everyday use, then go all-out on a few special outfits and accessories such as headbands, shoes, and blankets. If you’re planning on your baby sharing their nursery with a future sibling, explore gender neutral colors and decor themes that will be ready to welcome any baby girl or boy that arrives.
Buy Pre-Loved Gear Online: A LOT of money can be saved when you buy secondhand baby items rather than brand new. Along with Craigslist Dallas/Fort Worth and Ebay, social media networks like Nextdoor and Facebook can be surprisingly great places to look. The Facebook app has a Marketplace feature that allows you to search for specific items by keyword (click the icon at the bottom of the screen that looks like a street vendor tent). If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there are also a few exceptional local buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook, such as the “NRH/Colleyville/Southlake Stuff for Sale—Kids, Baby, Accessories, Clothes” group.
Buy Pre-Loved Gear in Person: If you have time for some in-person hunting, pop into a Kid to Kid or a Once Upon a Child, consignment stores that are specifically focused on newborns to young children. Don’t forget to check out the maternity section at these stores too! Garage sales can be hit or miss, so look for entire neighborhood sales in areas of town that seem to have a lot of young families. Consignment events, on the other hand, can be a lot more successful. There are regional consignment events where once or twice a year a huge child’s sale will take place. Just Between Friends is a franchise that regularly has consignment sales in the DFW (and beyond) where you can find children’s clothing (infant through teen sizes), infant care items, furnishings, books, strollers, and more – all discounted 50-90% off retail prices. Rhea Lana, Romper Runway, and Three Sisters Consignments are other companies that hold consignment sales in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Being pregnant and caring for a newborn can be a huge learning curve. Now more than ever, there are so many ways to research and learn for free!
Downloading a Pregnancy App: Many pregnancy apps are free and give you amazing insights into what is happening in your body and the baby’s each week. Ovia even shows you what your baby’s hand size is!
Borrowing from Your Doula or Midwife’s Collection: Over the years, I have gathered a library full of pregnancy books that I lend out to all of the expectant mothers I work with. Feel free to ask me about the collection! If I do not have a certain book that you’re looking for, or if you know you will want your own copy, try searching for them used at Half Price Books before paying full price for brand new. Speaking of libraries, local public libraries are another great place to learn for free!
Listening to Podcasts: Pregnancy podcasts can be such a great way to learn, because you can listen to them while you’re driving, cleaning, cooking, or getting ready for your day. Check out The Birthful Podcast and The Birth Hour.
Join Your Local La Lecha League Group: Finally, I’ll put in a plug for your local La Leche League group! This nonprofit organization offers local group meetings that support mothers in the art of breastfeeding. Once you find your local group, you can attend the meetings both before and after you give birth to receive free mother-to-mother support, encouragement, and education. This sort of support may even prevent you from hiring a lactation consultant post-birth. If you do end up struggling with breastfeeding and need to hire a lactation consultant though, don’t worry about the expense! If you can save your breastfeeding relationship with your baby, you will save yourself so much money on formula!
I hope you found some of these tips helpful! Do you have any cost-saving advice to share? Little Lilacs would love to hear it, so we can pass it on to all our expectant mothers who are buying on a budget. Please email us your tips!