A new baby brings all sorts of surprises … one of them will probably be how many unplanned expenses pop up in the days and weeks after your new son or daughter is born.
An even bigger surprise? The amount of money you’re going to spend on yourself after the delivery.
The best way to prepare for this financial challenge is to make ample room in your budget to cover the most common new mom expenses that crop up.
Consider this a rundown of what to expect to spend when you’re expecting.
Anything but Hospital Food
Hospital food isn’t the best, and you’ll quickly realize that you don’t have to eat it. From then on, you might be tempted to order in. But those morning egg sandwiches and evening trays of sushi that you can finally eat again do add up. Try to save up a "good food" fund in advance of giving birth: Two or three nights in the hospital can set you back $50 to $75.
Getting Out of the House
Being on maternity leave feels kind of like being on vacation (except for the lack of sleep and crying baby). You will have a lot of free time, and after a week or two of adjusting, you’ll need to get out of the house and find things to do. You might want to meet friends for lunch and generally see some grown-ups once in a while. You also might want to go for an early evening drink or even dinner with your spouse since the baby sleeps in public right now, and it won't always be like this. Try budgeting $25 to $50 a week in pocket money for small outings.
Made-for-Nursing Tanks, and More
If you’re planning to nurse, you’ll want some of the gear that’s designed to make it easier, like nursing tanks and tops. These will set you back anywhere from $20 to $60 a pop.
Even if you skip the made-for-nursing fashions, you won’t be ready to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes for at least a couple of months. But you will be more than ready to ditch your maternity duds.
Shop for a few versatile pants, skirts and tops to get you through the next few months (button-down shirts are handy). And make sure you pick items you can wear out and about, not just around the house. This isn't the time to splash out, since these will only be transitional pieces, but even keeping your shopping to places like TJ Maxx and Target, this could quickly add up to $100 to $150, or a little more if you’re returning to work. Don't forget to factor that in.
Body Before Baby
When a month or so has gone by and you aren’t back to your old self yet, you might be tempted to embark on a new get-fit-quick routine.
Activities like Strollerstrides, Baby Boot Camp or mommy-and-baby classes at your local yoga studio can cost anywhere from $12 to $25, but there's also a hidden benefit: You're likely help to meet other moms also in the process of getting back into shape. Keep your budget in check by mixing pricey classes up with naptime workout DVDs (try Netflix if you already have an account) or walks around the park with your stroller.
LV Tip: The BellaBand that helped you get a few extra weeks out of your clothes at the start of your pregnancy will help you get back into your jeans a few weeks sooner, too.
And then there’s your little bundle of joy. No matter how great your baby shower was, you are probably going to wind up scrambling for something he needs. Your son might quickly outgrow the newborn diapers you stocked up on, or your daughter will hate her bouncy seat but sleep like an angel in her cousin’s swing. And there’s a good chance the stroller or baby carrier that seemed ideal in the store won’t work for you after all.
LV Tip: Before heading out to the store, troll Craig’s List, Freecycle or your local parenting website for used baby equipment. We found a stroller frame for our car seat for half of what it would have cost new.