“Michelle, we have the test results back from the lab. You’re pregnant!”

I’ll remember those words for the rest of my life. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for almost nine months before we received our plus sign.

We celebrated by buying every single pregnancy test we could find and watching in rapt attention as the positive appeared.

Once the excitement died down, though we were left with the strange reality of having nine months to prepare to add a new member to our family. So I did what most pregnant women do: I read everything – books, websites, blogs, testimonials, pamphlets… If it had a baby or an expecting mom on the cover, I devoured it.

One thing nobody seemed able to agree on was the cost of a baby. One site stated the birth would cost $10k, another quoted $2k, a third said $5k.

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With such huge discrepancies, I was dismayed. I wanted to save up for the baby’s arrival. How could I do that when no one could tell me how much it cost to have her?

Hard Lessons On Baby Savings

I’m not one of those personal finance people who believes you must have a specific amount of money in the bank before you conceive. In reality, there’s a ton of factors that make it impossible to come up with the perfect amount to save.

The truth is, you can’t ever save enough when you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Take my case. Because I received infertility treatments, I needed to pay for extra everything: ultrasounds, medications, testing, etc. My health insurance deductible disappeared in about three weeks, setting us back roughly $500 before our 80/20 insurance kicked in.

Then, near-disaster struck. At 32 weeks, my baby’s heartrate dropped, requiring an immediate emergency c-section delivery. Because she was 8 weeks early, she required a month-long NICU stay plus another two weeks in and out of the hospital for complications related to being a preemie.

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Want to guess how long it took for her to meet her $2,500 out-of-pocket insurance cost? I’m pretty sure it was less than an hour.

Baby Cost

If my story proves anything, it’s that anything can happen. No one is guaranteed a perfect pregnancy or Hollywood-worthy labor. As I learned, you’re not even promised a healthy baby.

Because of that, there is no set answer for how much to save for a baby, no matter what the books and experts say. Every individual situation will be vastly different.

Instead of planning for how much to save for a baby, I advocate saving for everything around the baby:

  • Save up the amount of the out-of-pocket costs for you AND your baby. If your insurance or doctor provides a quote for your labor and delivery, ask what is included so you can prepare better.
  • Stash away 1-2 months of salary in case you are unable to work.
  • Have a small contingency fund (say $250-500). This could include money for gas to go back and forth to the hospital, babysitting for older kids, or medications for you.

If I had used this method, my pre-baby savings would have been around $8,500, giving me enough padding to handle anything. But yours might be different.

Saving up for a baby’s arrival can be scary. However, by keeping in mind a safety net and planning for the unexpected when you’re expecting can help you birth a baby without having to worry about the price tag.

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