Having a baby is expensive. Considering hospital costs, prenatal care, diapers, carriages and cribs, many new parents anticipate paying a steep bill when expecting an addition to the family. Yet, when it comes to saving money, people often overlook an important variable: the season of conception. Not only can your baby's time of birth affect his or her health -- there may also be a big impact on your wallet.
Thinking About Having a Baby in Winter? Consider the Following:
Of course, everyone wants a healthy baby. Besides the obvious, a healthy newborn means less hospital care and fewer related expenses. When planning for a baby, you should consider the impact of the season your little one will be born into. Seasonal diseases such as the flu (for which newborns cannot be vaccinated) may be worth avoiding. Research has shown that May is the worst month to conceive, with a significant decrease in gestation length that corresponds to an increase in prematurity of more than 10 percent. This phenomenon coincides with the higher prevalence of influenza in the early months of the year -- when babies conceived in May are approaching full term. In the U.S., flu season occurs between October and March and peaks in February. Incidences of newborn influenza also peak during January and February.
Money is the last thing on a parent's mind when their child is born premature, but the bills from having a premature baby can be crippling. To get an idea of how much a preemie can cost, consider a March of Dimes report that estimates employer expenditures for the first year of life for a premature or low-birth-weight baby to be $54,149 -- as opposed to $4,389 for an uncomplicated birth. The cost of having a baby can vary greatly, but it is almost guaranteed that the bills from having a healthy baby will be lower.
So when should you plan to conceive? The study mentioned above indicates that the summer months are the best time to conceive, as conceptions occurring June through August lead to higher birth weights. Research reveals a strong correlation between birth weight and newborn morbidity and mortality -- so, statistically speaking, your chances of having a healthy baby may go up if you conceive between June and August. That puts your delivery between March and May. Of course, there are many other factors that will play into your baby's health, but avoiding the flu season may be beneficial to you and your newest addition.
How Should Health Insurance Coverage Factor Into Your Decision?
If you are looking to have a baby -- whether you are insured or not -- 2014 is your year. The Affordable Care Act has ushered in major changes in women's health care coverage and costs, including the addition of coverage for maternity and newborn care.
If you're uninsured, you should consider purchasing insurance before getting pregnant. Receiving prenatal care early and often is highly recommended, so it's not just the cost of delivery that you should be worried about. Keep in mind that if you purchase insurance close to the Affordable Care Act's March 31 deadline, access to preconception care will not be covered until May 1. Uninsured women are less likely to access health services in general -- so being insured is an important part of preparing yourself for pregnancy.
Any insured woman in 2014 has access to many benefits under the ACA, and many of those benefits apply to pregnancy. One feature of the law is that women are allowed to self-refer to an OB/GYN -- that is, to pick their own pregnancy provider without a referral from a primary care doctor. This can be useful for women who wish to shop around for a high-value pregnancy provider. Lastly, you should be sure to do your research as to which services are covered by your insurance plan. While the ACA mandates that pregnancy care be covered, the details of what "maternity coverage" includes are still subject to what individual states deem to be "Essential Health Benefits."