Pregnancy Essentials on a Budget
Planning for a baby or when you have just found out you are pregnant is exciting but also for many, financially daunting. I’ve had 4 kids, my older 2 are 13 and 14, my younger two are 2 weeks old and 1 year old. Yes, I had them super close.
I can tell you now, pregnancy, birth and babies can be the cheapest time of the kids lives. Teenagers are expensive with their activities, requirements for school and how much they eat!
That said, the first focus for many is pregnancy. I want to make it clear, this is relating to once you are pregnant. Be prepared, you may not fall pregnant as easily as you think you will if you are in the planning stage.
I have PCOS and took 1.5 years to fall pregnant with my first after being told at 17 I probably wouldn’t have kids. Close relatives of mine have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatment.
Getting pregnant is not always a given. So when you start budgeting and planning, make sure you are prepared for that scenario too.
That said, here are my tips for saving money when you are pregnant.
Disclosure, this post may contain affiliate links to products and services I personally use.
1. Plan Ahead
Work out what you are doing for maternity leave and what you will do if the pregnancy has issues. My 1st and 3rd pregnancy had numerous issues, both reducing my capacity to work. In my 2nd pregnancy I was paralysed and in excruciating pain from sciatica towards the end. You never know what will happen.
Create a budget, get healthy, quit alcohol and other vices before you decide to get pregnant. It is much easier to do in the planning stage so your body is ready and at optimum health for the pregnancy.
Decide on the type of labour you want but be prepared for it to not go as planned. My first birth should have been c-section due to issues, as well as my second but no staff were available both times causing numerous issues. The third birth was incredible and went perfectly.
However, number 4, the birth was so traumatic I cannot talk about it. You never know what will happen, even if you are healthy and all has gone well before so plan for everything.
Also, plan financially. How will you get superannuation while off work? Are you eligible for maternity leave? And get everything in order to apply immediately for Family Tax Benefit etc if you are eligible.
2. Budget For It
As mentioned above, you may need to budget for fertility treatments but there are other costs involved in pregnancy. Australia is amazing with our healthcare and how much we can access. That said, not all hospitals are equal and I would strongly advise you do your research.
Decide if you want to go public or private and plan your health insurance accordingly. I went public with all of mine in 3 different hospitals. 1 was amazing, 1 was ok, 1 was atrocious and caused severe mental health issues.
Obviously, accessing your local public hospital and midwife program is the cheapest as it is free. If you go private, there are out of pocket expenses. It’s your choice.
Ultrasounds, medicine e.g if you get gestational diabetes or thyroid problems or your blood work shows deficiencies, you will need to pay for all of these.
You may need more time off work than you anticipated due to illness or pregnancy issues so budget for that too.
Start living on one wage now and saving the rest so when you get pregnant and are on maternity leave, it is easier. Read how to survive on one income for tips.
3. Be Flexible with Clothing
For starters, do not wear a dress to your check-ups. It is so much easier in a skirt or pants and a top. They need access to your belly from your pubic area to under your ribs. A dress means they have to put a sheet over you.
Maternity clothing is expensive and not always used as much as you assume. It depends on your baby’s size, how much weight you put on etc.
For me, I lived in a stretchy skirt and singlet top, a few dresses and that was it. I hated pregnancy jeans or pants. Some mums swear by leggings but as I wear dresses most of the time normally, that is what I was comfortable in.
With my last pregnancy, I was able to hide it well past 20 weeks. Until the last few weeks, I didn’t really need pregnancy-specific clothing and she was a little over 4kg at birth! Wear what you are comfortable in and dress for the weather.
Check op shops, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and ask around. I spent less than $100 on my maternity wardrobe and most of it was flexible so I am wearing it now and since it wasn’t maternity, it doesn’t make me feel frumpy.
4. Be Aware you Might not be Able to do What You’re Used to
We all want to think we will breeze through pregnancy and some lucky women do. Most do not and the bigger baby grows, the harder it is.
If you can keep up with your work and exercise, that is great. Do it. But if you find it too hard, ease off and focus on pregnancy things you can do.
Often you will feel sick, tired, not be able to sleep, your organs are rearranging themselves, ligaments loosen etc. Read up on what the body actually goes through in pregnancy to see it is unrealistic to expect to be able to do everything you used to.
Because of this, plan ahead. Take advantage of any offers of help. On days you feel great do what you can such as cook a few meals for later.
Work around your symptoms and take it easy on yourself.
5. Know Maternity Leave Entitlements
Check your company policy to see what your entitlements are and check the options with Centrelink. If you are self-employed, you can get maternity leave through Centrelink as well. There are quite a few payments available so be sure to check out what you are eligible for.
This also comes with planning. You will not be eligible for maternity leave as soon as you start a job. There is a set period of time you need to work there before you will be covered so check that as well as the length of maternity leave and payments.
If you want longer, budget for longer.
6. Get Good Underwear!
Your hips will grow, you’ll put on weight, now is not the time for sexy stuff. Get comfortable underwear for the pregnancy and after. You will absolutely need it. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just comfortable.
7. Allow Some Luxuries
Even if you are a DIY queen and do all your beauty yourself, by the end of the pregnancy, this won’t be practical and if you are used to having it done, you will want to pay for it.
Towards the end, bending over, stretching, moving etc all become harder so pedicures, hair removal etc all become quite difficult. Budget to get these done in a salon or your local Tafe/beauty school for the pregnancy.
You will be sore and while partners are great for a massage (if you have a partner) pregnancy specific massages are even better. They will ease pain and make pregnancy easier. If you feel better about yourself, you are also going to make better decisions that flows through to your finances too.
8. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Whatever you need help with, ask for it. This might mean you book a cleaner or a family member makes some meals or something. Whatever it is, ask for it. Pregnancy can be tough. Your body is going through so many changes making life quite different for this time.
Asking for and accepting help can save you time, energy and money, not to mention be good for your health.
9. Know Your Mental Health
Be aware of your mental health throughout the pregnancy and after. Get help when and if you need it including therapy and medication. Taking supplements, eating and sleeping well, exercise, getting outside and having a community all help.
However, many women, including myself, have issues throughout and/or after the pregnancy. This is ok, it is normal but you need to get help. Too often, I would try to be strong only to break down in a big way especially when pregnant.
I struggle significantly during my pregnancies as it also brings up a lot of trauma from my past (abusive first marriage). My family is incredibly supportive though and we know what to do to help me.
Be open and honest with your medical team and if you are not comfortable with them, or if they are the cause of some of the issues (as it was for me) then be open with someone. Seek out your own psychologist or counsellor but do not do it alone!
Get a mental health plan from your GP or access the free mental health service through your hospital for pregnant mothers. Do what you need to take care of your mental health.
Having done it a few times, I can honestly say, one of the best pregnancy books for helping me do it mindfully and have an easier birth is Mindful Pregnancy. There are loads of books that get into the nitty gritty of the stages of pregnancy, this book was more about doing it mindfully and ways to maintain optimum health and wellbeing through pregnancy and birth.