It goes without saying that having a baby is going to have an effect on your finances. First off, there’s all the new equipment and paraphernalia that’s needed for a new born: furnishing the nursery, car seats and travel systems, clothes, nappies… the list goes on!
Along with that initial outlay, there’s the reduction in earnings as a result of maternity/paternity leave and, later, the costs of childcare to factor in, too. You’d be forgiven for having second thoughts; having a child is expensive!
It’s not a short-term expense either! For the next 18 years or so, you’re committing to an enormous financial responsibility. Feeding, clothing, caring for, nurturing and entertaining your child comes with a hefty price tag.
So it’s lucky that in the UK we don’t have to factor in the additional costs of pre- and post-natal care, or labour. Yet another thing to be thankful to the NHS for: being free at the point of service. For most on their journey to parenthood, they won’t have to shell anything out for the privilege of getting the new life here safely. Even the cost of your prescriptions is covered while you’re pregnant and for 12 months after!
But for others, there are hidden costs of having a baby. Those of us who are unfortunate enough to be dealing with sub-optimal fertility may find ourselves faced with hefty medical bills before having a baby, and without a guarantee that we’ll have a baby safely cradled in our arms as a result of spending our hard-earned cash on treatment.
Yes, I’m talking about the costs of pursuing fertility treatment.
In the UK, eligibility for fertility treatment (typically IVF and related procedures) is determined on a range of factors, including your postcode. Yes, you read that right. It’s a postcode lottery.
NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, recommends that three cycles of IVF treatment should be offered on the NHS to those who are eligible. Of 207 CCGs, only 25 offer three full cycles, as CCGs are able to make their own funding decisions due to local budgets. The majority of CCGs offer 1-2 cycles on the NHS but unfortunately, a minority of three CCGs do not provide any NHS funded fertility treatment.
When you consider the postcode lottery with the statistic that there is only a 29% chance of success (IVF cycles resulting in live births) in women aged under 35, you realise that being infertile is potentially a costly hand to have been dealt. With that in mind, let’s say you’re not entitled to funding and it takes you three cycles of IVF to get pregnant. You’re looking at costs in the region of £10000 as a minimum. Before all those additional costs of parenting kick in.
Those costs can spiral if you need additional medication, ICSI treatment (a more invasive form of IVF), sperm or egg donation or any other non-standard treatment. Of course, you’ll face those costs again if you want a second child…and there’s still no guarantee of taking a baby home.
Whilst, obviously, infertility is not ideal for anyone, the lack of parity between areas of the UK makes the cost of pursuing infertility treatment an even more bitter pill to swallow.
I’m fortunate in that our cycles of ovulation induction were funded by the NHS (minus the cost of the prescriptions) and our upcoming IVF cycle will also be funded. That being said, I’m acutely aware that if we’re not successful, we’ll have to fund any subsequent cycles ourselves as we’re in an area where our CCG only fund one cycle. Not that I am being pessimistic, I think it’s prudent to start making plans to save in preparation for the eventuality that we may need to fund any future IVF cycles.
In a future post, I’ll document what I’m doing to save for IVF. Watch this space.