By Rachelle Fernandez Medina for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
The day I brought my newborn son home from the hospital was the happiest day of my life. It was also the most overwhelming—for on my night table, beneath the balloon-and-flower arrangements, the teddy bears, and the get-well cards lay a hospital bill that ran in the low (but still eye-popping ) six figures. As I cradled my swaddled child upstairs, my hubby stood downstairs at the hospital’s cashier, paying off the bill with thick, sweaty wads of hard-earned cash.
Admittedly, I had expected to pay such a sum. Midway through my pregnancy, I had placenta-related complications that entailed rather expensive prenatal care, and eventually, a Caesarean section. Thankfully, we had just finished a big contract project, so most of that covered the hospital bill. But once our little family got home, I knew I had to factor in pediatrician’s visits, diapers, the yaya’s salary—among many other things—into the equation. I wondered if there were strategies out there that could have kept me from bawling like a baby over my budget. Here’s what I found out.
Map out a birth plan
Contrary to popular belief, birth plans are not only relegated to control freak “momzillas”—in my opinion, all mothers-to-be should have one mapped out in their brains. A birth plan is basically a plan made by a mother declaring her preferences for prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care.
A birth plan will help you make important medical decisions (such as going to an OB-gynecologist or a midwife for prenatal care, deciding on a neighborhood maternity clinic, a public hospital, or a private hospital for delivery) and personal choices (like those who opt for a Caesarean section even though they can deliver normally, or taking Lamaze classes and foregoing pain medication in a normal delivery). This, in turn, will help you establish how much you will be spending for everything.
Lay a baby nest egg
Jen Suarez, an art director who is seven months pregnant, suggests starting a “baby fund” as a surefire way to save up for impending childbirth and beyond. “We started a baby fund as soon as I found out I was pregnant,” Suarez relates. “Half of my salary and a quarter of my husband’s salary go straight to this fund. And everything I earn from my sidelines goes to the fund as well.”
A portion of your baby fund should also be allotted for prenatal care, since a lot of the tests and the almost-weekly OB consultations can all add up in the end.
Know your benefits
Aside from the government-mandated maternity leave with pay (Republic Act 7322), that will help tide you by in the postnatal days and sleepless nights, there are other maternity benefits that you can get if you are gainfully employed.
One is the SSS Maternity Benefit that can be availed by any female employee who has given at least three contributions within a 12-month period prior to childbirth. Check out the salary compensation table on the SSS website (sss.gov.ph) or ask you HR department liaison officer to find out how much you’d actually get.
You can also inquire if your HMO carries maternity benefits, or you may opt to get a health card way in advance of planning a pregnancy. Take note that HMO card plans differ wildly—others cover the delivery only or discount it, while more comprehensive cards cover even the prenatal consultations and ultrasound tests—so choose wisely.
Scrimp in small (but meaningful) ways
“We canvassed around for hospitals to look for the best one that would suit our needs,” relates Suarez. “But we didn’t settle—we didn’t go for a cheaper one that was too far, or wasn’t reliable.”
Some major hospitals also offer maternity packages (including Caesarian sections) with an all-in (meaning: inclusive of professional fees) package, though you’d have to stay in an OB ward. These are a lot more affordable than just getting admitted without a maternity package and you’d be getting the same caliber of medical service.
There are also simpler ways to save up. “Every month, I buy something for the baby, to avoid cramming everything in the end,” Suarez continues. “I asked family members for hand-me-down baby things as well.” There is nothing wrong with using pre-loved baby items, and big, easily-outgrown nursery staples like cribs and bassinets are often passed down among relatives.
In the end, planning pregnancy finances is a personal (and personalized) choice. But remember, there is one thing you should never scrimp on—the safety of the mother and infant.
What to expect (in money matters) when you're expectingSavvy Living – Thu, Aug 9, 2012 5:36 PM PHT
By Rachelle Fernandez Medina for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
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