By: Wesley Hurlock
As I walked through one of the many retail stores my wife and I have visited over the last several months to shop for our soon-to-be-born baby girl, I came across a sign. It said, “Did you know that some items purchased can qualify under your insurance?” I remember thinking, “No, I didn’t know that. What else am I missing out on?” As the last several months of my wife’s pregnancy have passed, I’ve realized how important it is for me to prepare for my family’s well-being. Now that my wife is seven months into her pregnancy, as a dad-to-be I’ve focused on three key things: planning time off, squaring away insurance and prepping our home for the baby’s big arrival. Making sure these to-do list items are discussed, reviewed and checked off before we bring our baby home has helped alleviate my stress and make me more informed as a father. If you’re an expecting mom or dad who wants to be prepared for the final stages of pregnancy, here are some important tips to keep in mind.
Plan Your Time Off
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides qualified employees with 12 weeks of job-protected leave during a 12-month period. To qualify for FMLA, you must have worked for a company for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months, and worked at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. The birth and care of a newborn child, along with possible complications involved with the pregnancy, allow for an employee to utilize this time under FMLA guidelines. Check with a Human Resources professional regarding FMLA and other employment related matters.
Now for some important things I didn’t know until now: FMLA is unpaid leave, so if you haven’t accrued paid time off or vacation time, you will not get paid while on FMLA leave. Another important tip: If you and your spouse work for the same company, you must share the 12 weeks of FMLA you qualify for. Since my wife and I both work for VyStar, we had to discuss planning our time off accordingly so that we could maximize our time with our child. Situations vary so please check with your employer or related professional.
Review Your Health Insurance Policy
My wife and I also made it a point to discuss our child’s healthcare and make sure we knew what the cost would be to add her to our insurance. We also wanted to know what the costs of care would be during my wife’s pregnancy. Once again, I was surprised by some of the information I found out. For one thing, breastfeeding materials and products (breast pumps in particular) can be covered under your insurance costs. Baby formula can also be covered under insurance, but this is typically only in situations in which the formula is prescribed by a doctor. Pregnancy classes can also be covered under your insurance; these classes are usually offered in the third trimester to prep the mommy-to-be to deliver the baby. Most of these classes are offered directly through the hospital in which the delivery will take place, so make sure to check when and where these classes are offered.
You only have a certain amount of time to notify your insurance company about the birth of your child. So don’t wait; costs for basic immunizations and screenings are relatively high, and you may have to pay for them out of pocket if your child isn’t covered. You could also face an IRS tax penalty if you fail to provide insurance for your child. When budgeting and considering the cost of adding our baby to our medical insurance, we did the following: calculated our premium increase, figured out who would carry the child on their coverage, decided what hospitals and doctors were important to us to make sure they fit within our plan, and determined a comfortable out-of-pocket budget for copays and prescription costs. Do your research and identify a plan that is cost-effective for you and meets your needs.
The costs associated with my wife’s delivery and doctor’s appointments were also discussed. Health insurance for these costs varies depending on the plan. If you don’t have insurance, talk with your doctor, call your local hospital or go online to get the information and assistance you need. Research and review!
Prep Now, Save Time and Energy Later
I can tell you that I felt overwhelmed by the number of nursery items we obtained and the amount of time that was required for their assembly. Not to mention the fact that the baby room needed to be decorated, painted and organized! I quickly realized that I had to get everything done before the baby arrived. Now is the time to assemble the furniture, figure out how to install the car seat, paint the room and put up the decorations. Waiting until the baby arrives to get these things done will just make the situation tougher later on when your baby is home and you’re sleep-deprived. I found that these tasks were not only essential, but also a great bonding experience for me and my wife. We grew excited with the reality that our little one was coming, and it made for a happy occasion amidst the many parts and instructions for assembling the baby gear.
It’s also important to make sure your house and all of the baby items are cleaned. The clothes for your baby typically require you to wash them in a special detergent that is hypoallergenic and gentle on sensitive skin. It’s important to remove any irritants, like pet fur or dust, from the baby’s clothes before he or she comes home. The same goes for the house and carpets: Make sure to do a deep clean of your carpets and other household items to make sure your little one doesn’t pick up anything while crawling on the floor. My wife and I also left the plastic on many items, including the crib mattress, so as to not have dust or dirt build up on them before the baby arrives.
Share with us in the comment section below: What else are you doing to prepare for the arrival of your bundle of joy?
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.