There are different schools of thought on how much it costs to birth and take care of little people, especially through their first years. The first child will be more expensive than subsequent kids (all things being equal). I think that the effort people expend in planning for weddings is better used to plan for the arrival and the first year of their kids.
Why do I think you have to save and plan?
- As a man, most people will shame you if you have to ask for help to offset costs during pregnancy and childbirth, especially if complications arise. You will hear things like didn’t you know she was pregnant, why is it just now you are raising funds? What kind of man cannot even pay for the birth of his child? Go to public hospital, must you use private? The reflex action is to say God forbid, but complications have been known to arise. I have a friend who went to deliver, had emergency CS and behold, it was twins. Apparently, one had been hiding (don’t ask me how it happened).
- As a woman, when time comes to cut costs, the unfortunate reality is that anything that affects you or helps you recover fast, etc. will be the first thing to be cut off. There are all these little things that you can buy to make your recovery easy but when you don’t even have money to pay for a proper hospital, how will you be buying pre-made baby formula simply because you want to sleep longer?
How do we go about it?
- Educate yourself on what it takes and costs to go through pregnancy, delivery and the first one year. Do you know what the baby needs? What have other parents bought, what was useful and what was not? What are the options? Talk to people who are in the same circumstances as you and see how they managed. For example, if you are working parents with no family support, talking to someone who had mothers and sisters and maids may give you unrealistic views. Educating yourself gives you an idea of the costs you may incur. Talk to other new parents about their experiences so far and even have a practice run with your partner if possible (Babe, today we are going to pretend we have three-month-old triplets in the house).
- Consider getting medical insurance to help cut down on costs. Most HMOs cover delivery and prenatal care in most of their packages; however, do make sure you read the fine print on what mommy and child post-natal services are covered.
[READ MORE: How you can shop on a budget this Christmas season]
- Create a baby-fund for miscellaneous baby and mommy expenses. E.g., a mutual fund account where you can save money. Having 100k extra to spend on maternity and infant gears can go a long way. You can decide all the money sprayed at your wedding will be put into a childcare fund (really you shouldn’t be using wedding cash gifts to pay wedding bills). If you can, start saving while single, especially if you are already in a relationship, and please don’t use that money to do wedding o!
- You can save costs by getting people who have had kids to sell or give out what they are not using. Maternity and baby gears are limited duration items. Kids outgrow car seats, even outgrow clothes before wearing them. You will be surprised what loot you can get by just asking.
- Have a plan on childcare for the first year. For a lot of us, the days of Grandma or one sister staying to help have gone. You need to make plans now before baby comes (e.g. visit creches and decide which you will use). Plan because if you must make these decisions under pressure like impending work resumption date, you will most probably make a mistake. Any nanny who will stay at home with your baby should ideally have started staying with you before the baby comes.
- Write your will: this is for the ladies… NIGERIA has a high maternal mortality rate. And it cuts across all demographics. Rich, middle class or poor, write your will and designate caregivers for your child, keeping in mind the realities of Nigerian society.
- Old but gold advice: Reduce debt and always have a realistic view of where you stand financially. You may need to put off pregnancy for a few months while you save some more. If you are a self-employed woman, you need to recognize that having a baby may reduce your income stream for a few months, and even longer if you are on bed rest. Will your savings be able to cover the additional costs of having a baby?
This list isn’t exhaustive and should be tweaked to align with your own personal realities. Some of us will give birth overseas, while some will opt for general hospitals locally. Also, always remember that surprises happen so you may find that your reality ends up different from what you imagined. However, if you take the time to plan, you’ll be less stressed and more at ease when the baby arrives.
I am looking forward to having a conversation on this.
Written by: Stella Ogbodu