8 Unexpected Costs of Pregnancy (and How to Plan)

by Randle Browning

A woman holding her full-term pregnancy

Psst… We also have a companion article on unexpected costs during childbirth.

If you’re expecting or considering becoming pregnant, the financial cost of pregnancy probably isn’t news to you. 

It’s common knowledge that raising a child is expensive. According to the USDA, a married couple of middle income could expect to spend almost $13,000 per year in 2015, and that doesn’t include paying for college. But I didn’t realize until I was expecting my daughter in 2019 that pregnancy itself can be expensive.

The good news is that you can learn more now about what costs of pregnancy to look out for, and make plans to save for them or avoid them.

You’re probably already thinking about prenatal care costs, but what about the expenses no one talks about? Here are some to watch out for.

1. Income loss during pregnancy

If you’re paid hourly or don’t have paid medical time, you may be forced to take unpaid time off. Prenatal doctor visits can add up to a lot of hours, with many people heading to the obstetrician or other specialists several times monthly, or even weekly. And you’ll of course be out of work during labor and delivery. You may also need more sick days while pregnant. 

Talk to your employer in advance to set expectations, and know your rights in your state. You could be entitled to paid medical time off during pregnancy. 

2. Eating during pregnancy

You’ve heard of the pregnancy cravings, but late night hankerings aren’t the only lifestyle changes you might have to shell out for. When I was pregnant, I found myself eating a lot more food, and craving meat and dairy I wouldn’t have purchased otherwise. All the prenatal supplements your doctor may suggest you take can add up as well. 

3. Maternity and nursing clothes

Maternity clothes can be expensive, especially if it’s winter and you need a lot of layers, or live in a climate where you’ll need a new parka. Depending on your work situation, you could need office attire to accommodate the bump too. Once the baby is born, you’ll need clothes that both fit your postpartum body as it changes and make it easy to nurse, if you’re planning to breastfeed.

I’ve heard more than one mom tell me that during pregnancy, their feet grew and never shrunk back. You may need to budget to replace staple shoes in your closet once you’re postpartum.

Being smart about your wardrobe is an easy opportunity for you to reduce the cost of pregnancy. Opt for stretchy fabrics that grow with you, find thrifted clothes, and look for options that could work after pregnancy as well. Many maternity clothes are also nursing-friendly.

During pregnancy, you could be dealing with swollen feet, too. So it’s smart to plan to buy one or two pairs of comfortable shoes. And — one more kick in the pants — I’ve heard more than one mom tell me that during pregnancy, their feet grew and never shrunk back. You may need to budget to replace staple shoes in your closet once you’re postpartum.

4. Transportation costs

While pregnant, I also wasn’t expecting to need to pay extra for transportation. Living in New York City, I walked and took the subway to get most places before I was pregnant. In July, seven months pregnant, with complications, I couldn’t spend much time in the heat or trudging up and down subway stairs. I had to take pricey taxis and cars (or bring someone along to assist me with carrying bags). To plan, find out if your office will accommodate you or chip on the price of taxis.

5. Pregnancy complications

No matter how well we plan, there are some things we can’t prepare for in advance, like unexpected pregnancy costs due to complications. Prenatal care costs can stack up even if everything goes to plan, and issues like gestational diabetes or asthma can mean paying for extra testing, prescriptions, ultrasounds, and doctor visits. Seemingly unrelated issues can introduce costs too, like surprise visits to the dermatologist due to flaring hormones. 

6. Genetic testing

These days, genetic tests may be available to you at different stages of pregnancy that can determine your child’s likelihood of developing specific conditions. Depending on your age and other risk factors, these may or may not be covered. 

Before agreeing to genetic tests, always ask your provider what’s required and what’s covered. That way you won’t end up with an unexpected bill.

7. Birthing classes (and other training)

On TV, you have probably noticed pregnant women and partners in birth classes, doing the classic ee-ee-oo-oo breathing. In reality, there are seemingly endless strategies for preparing to deliver your baby, from HypnoBirthing to Lamaze. The hospital where I delivered my baby offered a free course on what to expect once admitted, but I had to pay out of pocket (about $150) to attend a day-long birthing workshop.

On top of birthing classes, you might need education in other areas. My hospital offered classes on everything from infant CPR to bringing home a baby with a dog in the house. Note that if you have a high-risk infant, you may be required to take a CPR class before leaving the hospital. 

There are usually free and low-cost options for prep classes, but make sure to sign up early in pregnancy, as they can fill up fast. 

8. Mental health care

You have likely heard of postpartum depression and anxiety, but it’s not unusual to struggle with your mental health while pregnant too. At least 7% of women experience depression during pregnancy. Anxiety may be even more common, affecting more than 10% of people during pregnancy

If you need extra help protecting your mental health while pregnant, you’re not alone. You may need to budget for extra therapy or prescriptions. Check in advance if your insurance covers treatment or has in-network providers you can pick from, and see if your obstetrician’s office offers any support groups or free consultations with therapists or counselors. 

Planning for the arrival of a child can be overwhelming, especially when you consider all the costs of pregnancy you could encounter before the baby is born. But, knowing your options and planning ahead can help you manage it all. If you are looking for professional financial advice, My Financial Counsel offers matching with fiduciary advisors who have your best interests at heart. You can take a quick and easy questionnaire here.

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