Mamas on Bedrest: Babies or Bankruptcy?

December 9th, 2011

They are e-mails that just break my heart.

“I have just learned that I am pregnant with triplets and have been put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. This is a huge financial blow as we were living paycheck to paycheck when I was working and barely making it. We  didn’t plan this pregnancy, and we knew that it would be a financial stretch. But Triplets??? I am completely overwhelmed! I have no idea how we’ll make it.”

At a time when this mama to be should be experiencing great joy, she is instead overwhelmed and quite possibly panicked. More and more I see couples delaying childbearing or abandoning the families of their dreams due to finances. But sometimes, as the above e-mail illustrates, life just throws  you a curve.

While the decision to have a child is a very personal one, in the United States, without paid family leave, its becoming a luxury. That’s not to say that people aren’t having babies. But more and more, having a child is an additional burden that many couples are woefully unprepared for. Now granted, triplets are not common and are almost always a surprise to the parents to be. But something like bed rest is common (and increasingly more with women waiting later to have children, fertility issues, etc..) yet it catches most couples unaware and unprepared. So what should a couple do when a pregnancy presents unexpected circumstances that create a financial burden?

First and foremost, take a deep breath. Okay, have your meltdown first, then take a deep breath. Surely things seem overwhelmingly bleak, but you can survive. Hundreds to thousands of couples have weathered complicated pregnancies, multiple pregnancies, bed rest, complicated labors and deliveries, NICU babies and survived. Truth be told, many couples have been devastated financially. But others have actually survived the storm. How? Here are 3 steps to take to get a realistic assessment of your finances as you approach your pregnancy.

  1. Make a list of all your monthly income, every dime you receive.
  2. Make a list of all your monthly expenses. As much as possible, list everything that you spend money on from bills, to gas, to gifts to “that morning latte”.
  3. Make a list of all of your outstanding debt; mortgage, car notes, school loans, credit card debt and the like.

Once you make these lists, you’ll have a clearer picture of how much money you make, how much money you owe and how much money you spend. The task then becomes separating the essentials from the non-essentials. Rent/mortgage is an essential. Daily lattes or lunch out is not. Where can you trim? Couples will have to look at everything and make some tough decisions. I can recall one couple who was having financial difficulties when mama went on bed rest. For them, one solution was to move back in with parents. Was it their first choice? Most certainly not! But they saved a lot of money on rent and utilities and also, since the parents were retired, mama had a lot of care and support while on bed rest.

Pregnancy can present some unique challenges, especially when they are multiple and/or high risk. Couples will have to be creative when it comes to finding solutions to managing the financial burden these challenges bring.

Over the next several blog posts, we’ll share various tips we’ve learned about financing bed rest. We want your input. What are your financial concerns? What has worked for you financially? Share your story below as it will most certainly benefit another mama.

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