If you’ve lived on planet Earth for a while, you probably already know having a child is one of the biggest expenses a person will ever have in a lifetime.
When we think about the cost of raising a child, we tend to focus on the usual suspects: child care, the cost of food and clothing, education and other expenses.
But what didn’t cross my mind before I had my first child were the whopping hospital bills I received after I delivered my baby.
About a month after my baby was born, I received the first bill from my doctor for the labor and delivery.
A week later I received my epidural bill — and a week after that, another bill for room and board.
I ended up with a stack of bills for thousands of dollars — even after my insurance paid a portion.
While many of the expenses were necessary for my baby’s health and safety as well as my own, I could’ve skipped a few of them. Here are five ways to save money on hospital bills after having a baby.
Of course, every pregnancy and childbirth experience is different. What works for one may not work for another, so consider what’s best for you and your child.
1. Shop Around for a Delivery Doctor
Like any other service, prior to delivering a baby, you can shop around and get quotes from doctors to get an idea of what you’ll owe.
Many doctors’ offices charge a flat rate for delivering babies and can provide the information at your first visit.
If you plan to follow this strategy, I highly recommend shopping around and settling on a doctor before the end of your first trimester. Most doctors won’t take new patients past that stage in their pregnancies.
My doctor charged $4,500 for delivery. It’s no small expense, so it’s worth looking around.
2. Skip the Epidural
If you’re a brave soul, opting out of the epidural will shave a few dollars off your hospital bill.
These days, more women are opting for natural ways to relieve labor pain, such as meditation or rhythmic breathing.
I must warn you, childbirth will probably be one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences of your life. So if you know you don’t handle pain well, this may not be for you.
But if you think you can handle it, go for it. You’ll be my hero.
Skipping the epidural would’ve saved me more than $400.
3. Don’t Circumcise Your Baby Boy
Studies find there are some health benefits to circumcision, but not enough for doctors to recommend it, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Circumcision is a heavily debated topic and it’s a deeply personal choice for parents to make. If the procedure is important to you for religious or cultural reasons, that should take precedence over everything — including saving money.
But if you’re on the fence and leaning towards not circumcising, consider the savings a benefit. You can save $400 to $500 dollars and your baby boy will still be perfectly healthy.
4. Skip the In-Hospital Photos
Most hospitals offer new parents the option to have professional baby photos taken in the hospital — for a fee.
But you probably have a pretty decent camera on your phone. Do yourself a favor: Channel your inner photographer and take your own baby pictures.
I went on Pinterest and found a ton of tutorials on how to set up a newborn photo shoot. I ended up with some really adorable pictures — for FREE.
If you insist on having photos done professionally, wait. Leave the hospital and visit a photography studio — or find a friend who’s handy with a camera.
5. Take Advantage of Your HSA
If you’re a healthy person under the age of 40, you probably don’t visit the doctor very often — and a health savings account (HSA) isn’t something you think much about.
But if you’re preparing to have a baby, saving pretax dollars in an HSA will be your savior — especially if your HSA includes an employer contribution.
Each pay period, I put away $50 on top of my employer’s $25 contribution. By the time I gave birth, I had saved more than $2,400 in my HSA and used it to pay some of my medical bills.
If you don’t have access to an HSA, deposit money from each paycheck into a separate savings account dedicated to saving for medical expenses.
You can even take advantage of new account signing bonuses to jump-start your savings.
Your Turn: If you found a way to save money when you had a baby, we’d love to hear about it!
Candace Berry is a new mommy who loves writing about all things related to motherhood. In her free time, she can be found crocheting, binging on Netflix series and enjoying life with her hubby and baby boy.