Category Archives: Frugal Pregnancy

Frugal Prenatal Vitamins

When I was pregnant the first time, I went to fill my prescription for prenatal vitamins and expected to pay the minimum co-pay my insurance would charge. I mean, they were just vitamins, right? How expensive could they be?

As it turned out, they fell under the category of the highest co-pay allowed. This meant my prenatal vitamins were going to cost me a whopping $40 per month. But, knowing how important they were, I filled the prescription anyway. At my next appointment, I mentioned it to my OB who quickly informed me that I could buy prenatal vitamins over the counter for around $10. As far as she was concerned, any prenatal vitamin that would give me at least 800 mcg of folic acid a day was acceptable. I later learned that some OBs even recommend Flintstone vitamins to their patients as these don’t typically cause nausea like some prenatals can.

These days, I take prenatals as a regular daily multivitamin. This insures that if I were to get pregnant, I would have adequate stores of folic acid built up. They are no more expensive than a regular multivitamin but they keep me and any future babies protected.

Milk Nursingwear Review and Giveaway (Ended)

***Congratulations to Lisa L.! She won the $50 gift certificate from Milk Nursingwear! Thank you to all who entered!***

I have nursed two children and loved almost every minute of it 🙂  One of the biggest challenges for me was nursing discreetly in public. I tried various tactics but I always felt slightly exposed. If my breasts were covered, my tummy was showing and vice versa. And I’ve never been a fan of nursing covers because I hate the fact that my baby would be covered up by them.

So, when I was given an opportunity to try Milk Nursingwear, I jumped at it. If you’re unfamiliar with Milk, they are a line of very stylish nursing wear with nursing panels built right in. You simply pull one layer of fabric aside for easy nursing access. It’s extremely discreet. In addition to its functionality, these clothes are really cute, too! So cute, in fact, that you could wear their clothing even when you’re not nursing. And that’s exactly what I did.

I’m between babies at the moment so I got a chance to see if the Milk top really would pass for a “normal” top. I was reviewing the Chic Crossover Top in teal. I wore it to church one Sunday morning with a pair of black slacks. It looked GREAT. At church, the top was really put to the test. I was working in the nursery that day so I had kids climbing on me, I was holding babies, and I was running around. Amazingly, the nursing panel stayed in place the whole time.

 

The fit of the top was excellent, as well. When I first opened the box it came in, it looked like it might be too short. But when I tried it on, it was honestly a perfect fit. My only complaint (and it’s a small one) is that the material was rather clingy. This made it harder to hide bulges but since the overall shape was flattering, I thought it still looked great. In fact, I loved the top so much that I’m planning to go back and buy the sleeveless Ruffle Top (so cute!).

And if you are currently pregnant, many of Milk’s items can be worn during pregnancy, too. Since they do double duty, this makes them a good wardrobe investment.

Now, how about a chance to win a gift certificate from Milk? One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to Milk! Here’s how to enter:

Mandatory Entry: Like Milk Nursingwear on Facebook (if you don’t mind, let ’em know The Frugal Baby sent you!)

Optional Entry: Tweet this: “WOW the nursing wear by Milk Nursingwear is so pretty http://www.milknursingwear.com”

Optional Entry: Visit the Milk Nursingwear website, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the Facebook “like” button (this is different than liking their Facebook page).

Optional Entry: Tweet this: “Enter to win Milk Nursingwear at The Frugal Baby. http://bit.ly/jiDCk8”

Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry and be sure to include your email address. You may enter through July 14, 2011. A winner will be drawn randomly from all entries on July 15, 2011 and the winner will be notified by email that day.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me at no charge for the purpose of review. I was not compensated in any other way and this review reflects my honest opinion of the product. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.

 


Keeping Your Baby Safe in the Hospital

When I was taking a tour of the hospital before my first child was born, I was somewhat amused by the extreme measures put in place to protect the newborns from abduction. First there was the electronic anklet that would sound if the baby was removed from the hospital. Then there were the color coded nurses uniforms that let me know which nurses were allowed to take the baby to the nursery. There was also an intricate procedure that visitors had to go through before they would be allowed into the maternity unit.

Honestly, it all seemed a little….dramatic, or something. I remember thinking at the time, “It’s not like there are kidnappers just lying in wait for an opportunity to grab a baby.”

Turns out, I was wrong. According to statistics provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than two-thirds of infant abductions take place in a healthcare facility. Why? Because it’s relatively easy for someone to pose as a nurse and literally walk away with a baby. In the vast majority of cases, this is exactly what happened.

It’s interesting reading, though I’d skip it if you are pregnant–don’t give yourself added scenarios to worry about. Instead, just be aware of your hospital’s safety measures and be diligent about knowing who has your baby and for what purpose. If a nurse comes to take your little one to the nursery for any reason–tests, bathing, weighing, etc.–don’t hesitate to ask to see her identification. If you ever have any doubt or concern, call the nurses’ station. When it comes to the safety and well-being of your child, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

All About Baby Names (and a Giveaway!)

*We have a winner! Random.org picked comment #14 which is Kendra! Thank you all for your entries!*

When you’re pregnant, choosing a baby name is one of your biggest challenges. I mean, this is something that is going to stick with your child FOREVER. Let me repeat, FOREVER. As a child who, through no fault of my parents, had a somewhat amusing last name, I am extra aware of the type of teasing children can endure because of their name. And it’s not just the name itself that you have to watch out for. It’s also the initials, the potential nicknames, and any connotations associated with the name.

When I was thinking about baby names during my last pregnancy, I really wanted to name a boy Paul (after my grandfather) Michael (after my husband). Unfortunately, our last name begins with an S. So our poor child’s initials would have been PMS. I quickly crossed that one off the list.

And while you want your child to have a name that is as close to tease-proof as possible, you don’t want to give your child the same name as every other kid on the block. Imagine the confusion of having three or four little Isabellas or Jacobs in one class (please note, I only used those names as an example because they are the top two baby names in the U.S. right now).

Fortunately, the Internet can be a huge help when choosing a baby name. There are baby name suggestors, baby name polls, baby name surveys, and forums dedicated to sharing their opinions on various names!

And of course, there are a ton of baby name books on the market–books on unique names, books for choosing a name based on its meaning, books of boys names, books of girls names, and pretty much any other baby name topic you can think of.

With this topic in mind, I am giving one reader the chance to enter to win the 2011 Baby Names Almanac. It is packed full of up-to-date baby name information including trends, forecasts, and meanings. Want to win? Here’s all you have to do (be sure to leave a comment for each entry you complete):

  1. Leave a comment below and tell me about the most unique or interesting baby name you’ve ever heard (mandatory).
  2. For a bonus entry take a look at the 2011 Baby Names Almanac on Amazon and tell me something you learned about the book.
  3. One bonus entry EACH for following The Frugal Baby on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Friend Connect (leave a separate comment for each).
  4. One bonus entry for signing up for The Frugal Baby newsletter.
  5. Bonus entries for post this on Twitter and/or Facebook.: “Win the 2011 Baby Almanac at The Frugal Baby! http://bit.ly/mLCoyz” (you can do this daily)

You may enter through July 4, 2011. A winner will be drawn randomly from all entries on July 5, 2011 and the winner will be notified by email that day. The winner has three days to send me his/her mailing address or another winner will be chosen at random. Please note that this prize can only be shipped to U.S. addresses but is open to everyone 18 and older (void where prohibited).

 

Have You Heard of Simple Registry?

I think baby registries are a great thing. You get to let people know what you need and they get to buy you a gift they know you can use. The problem is, you may end up needing to register at more than one store. How many times have you received a shower invitation with a laundry list of registries mentioned? How much simpler would it be to go to one centralized location and see everything that has been registered for?

Well, I just stumbled across a website that does just that. It’s called Simple Registry. Have you heard of it? Here’s how it works: You can add any product from any store online to your registry. In addition, you can download an app for your mobile phone which allows you to scan any product in any real store to your registry, too.

There is an additional benefit that I suspect may be off-putting to some gift buyers. When someone purchases an item from your registry, they aren’t actually purchasing the item. Instead, they are sending you the money to cover the cost of the item. This is nice in that you could register for say, contributions to your baby’s college fund or music lessons down the road. Also, it eliminates the need to return an item if you get a duplicate gift. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if everyone will embrace this idea.

So what do you think? Is this a great idea or a tacky way to ask for cash? Check it out at http://www.simpleregistry.com/baby/ and let me know what you think.

Maternity Clothes on a Budget

I personally think the maternity clothes industry is nothing but a racket. They charge exorbitant prices for clothes we will only wear for a couple of months. And I really don’t think that an elastic band in a pair of jeans or an empire waist on a blouse is enough to warrant a 50% markup in price. Obviously, though, people are buying these clothes and paying these prices. I’m just too cheap frugal to do it.

Thank goodness, there are a lot of ways to save big money on maternity wear–used and new.

  1. Purchase a belly band. A belly band is a stretchy band that you wear around your waist to hide gaps in clothes, to cover up unbuttoned/unzipped pants, and even to cover up exposed skin while nursing. Many women use these when they have gotten too big for regular pants but they are still too small for maternity pants. You simply wear the band over your unbuttoned pants and you can wait a couple of more months to buy maternity clothes–this minimizes the amount of money you have to spend on maternity wear overall.
  2. Buy “regular” clothes when possible. Non-maternity clothes are far cheaper than their maternity counterparts. With that in mind, use as many regular clothes as possible during your pregnancy. During one of my pregnancies, I found a pair of stretchy black, bootcut workout pants on clearance for $4.00 These were perfect for maternity and they didn’t look like exercise-wear at all! They just looked like black pants. Other regular clothes to try include: sweatpants for pajama bottoms, brief-style panties in the next size up for maternity underwear, button down “big shirts,” and casual dresses (sun dresses, t-shirt dresses, etc.).
  3. Skip the maternity shops. I know, I know, those pregnant mannequins look adorable in the store window. But even if you want to buy some maternity wear new, don’t do it there! Instead, visit non-specialty stores like Target, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penney. Not only will their original prices be lower than in the maternity shops, but they frequently have great clearance buys on maternity.
  4. Check out seasonal consignment sales. Consignment sales are great places to buy gently used children’s clothing but some of them also offer maternity wear. Consignment sales usually take place in the spring and fall. Just be sure to call ahead and see if they offer maternity items. And while you’re there, you can also score some great bargains on baby clothes.
  5. Shop at resale stores. Similar to consignment sales, some children’s resale shops also have a maternity section. Most of these shops have high standards regarding the condition of the clothes they accept so you will likely find really nice clothes for reasonable prices.
  6. Try thrift stores. While their standards for accepting items may not be as high as consignment sales or resale shops, many people report finding maternity “gems” at thrift stores.
  7. Look online. Ebay and Craigslist are great places to search for maternity clothing. By searching for “maternity lots,” you can often find several pieces of clothing for one low price.
  8. Visit garage sales. Scope out the classifieds section in the newspaper and look for garage sales that mention maternity wear. You can sometimes find maternity items for $1.00 per piece or even less. I had a friend who bought a garbage bag full of maternity clothes at a yard sale at the end of the day. The people holding the sale were just glad to get rid of stuff so they sold the entire bag to her for $5.00.
  9. Beg and borrow. Put out the word among your friends and family that you are looking for maternity clothes. Even if they don’t have any you can use, they might know someone who does. Also, put out a request on Freecyle with your needs and your size and people may just give you some items for free.

Is This “Bad” Baby Advice?

I read an article on Yahoo’s Shine today that really kind of ruffled my feathers. The article was entitled, The 10 Most Irritating, Least Helpful Parenting Tips Ever. I read it with interest because I, like most moms, have been the recipient of unwanted advice.

I was immediately turned off by the author’s tone. She was unnecessarily sarcastic and spoke of the advice-givers as if they were imbeciles with no basis for the advice. And sure, I’ve received advice from people who aren’t even parents but some of the “bad advice” on her list can come only from those who have been there.

To be fair, there are certainly some tips/advice in the article that are pretty much useless. There were a few, however, that I consider to be good, sound advice. Let me share with you the ones with which I take issue.

Sleep now while you have the chance (during pregnancy). The article’s author makes a joke about hibernating during her last trimester. Look, I realize that life goes on while you’re pregnant (work, household responsibilities, etc.) and I further realize that you can’t store up sleep to use later when your two month old is waking you up every three hours.  But you can ensure you aren’t running a sleep deficit when your baby arrives by sleeping enough during your pregnancy. You can also ensure that you are well rested for the health and well-being of both you and your unborn baby. Pregnant women need their rest and I maintain that they should sleep as much as possible while they have the chance.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. The author makes some slightly disparaging remarks about the folks who offer this tidbit of advice and she goes on to argue that she has other things to do while her baby is sleeping. THAT IS THE POINT! All new moms feel like they should be cleaning the house or doing the laundry or taking a shower while their baby sleeps. The purpose of this advice is to remind moms that some of these things can and should wait. Sleep is so important and most new parents don’t get nearly enough of it. So yeah, you’ll have to sacrifice some things to nap when your baby does but you need your rest to be the best mom you can be!

Relish this time because your baby will grow up before you know it. The author reacts to this advice with gratuitous sarcasm and assures the reader that she is well aware that her baby will grow up eventually. Perhaps she only has a baby. Maybe she’s never experienced the pang of waking up one day to realize that your baby is not a baby anymore. Even though my oldest child is only four years old, I already experience feelings of longing and even regret when I think of the time that has passed us by. Did I spend enough quality time with him? Have I given him a solid foundation on which to grow? Will we still be as close when he goes off to kindergarten? The fact is, most of us are so busy taking care of our babies that we don’t always stop to appreciate the little things. For that reason, I think this is very sound advice from parents who have been there.

So what do you think? Is this good advice or is it better left unspoken? Be sure to read the full article on Yahoo and then let me know what you think!

How To Save Money On Your Hospital Birth

Giving birth in a hospital will probably be the biggest baby expense you will face during your pregnancy and your child’s infancy. According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the average cost for an uncomplicated vaginal hospital birth is about $9,000. This does not include prenatal care–it is simply what it costs from the moment you walk into the hospital to the moment you leave.

Oh, and it also doesn’t include anesthesia (like the epidural), the cost of your obstetrician, or the cost of the visit from your baby’s new pediatrician. And if there are any complications, your costs can skyrocket. If you have health insurance, it will likely cover a large percentage of these costs. But even if it covers 80%, you’re still coming out of pocket nearly $2,000 and possibly much more.

There are, of course, alternatives to a hospital birth and we’ll cover those another day. For now, lets look at some easy ways to save money at the hospital.

  • Shop around. While the cost of giving birth will likely be similar at all hospitals in your area, check on prices anyway. Most hospitals will tell you what the average cost of birth in their facility is.
  • Ask about discounts. Some hospitals offer discounts for prepayment which could save you a percentage on your total hospital bill.
  • Ask about options. Is a private room standard? Is there an extra charge for the television or the phone? You could potentially save quite a bit of money by opting out of these luxuries.
  • Go as natural as possible. Is it hospital policy to start an IV upon admission? If not, skip it. Considering a natural birth (i.e., no epidural)? It’ll save you quite a bit of money.
  • BYOT (Bring Your Own Toiletries). If diapers, sanitary napkins, and baby wipes are included in the package price for your baby’s birth, great–use them. And, if hospital policy allows it, take home any extras at the end of your stay. If, however, these products are itemized, ask about bringing your own. It will cost you a lot less to bring your own disposable products than it will to use them at the hospital’s inflated rates. You might even inquire about bringing your own tissue, soap, and even plastic cups. Think it’s not worth it? Think again. Some hospitals charge an excessive amount for these items (try a $100 box of Kleenex!).
  • BYOM (Bring Your Own Medicine). Ask your OB ahead of time what kind of over-the-counter medications you will be given during  your stay (often Tylenol or ibuprofen) and then bring them with you. The hospital may charge a few dollars per pill whereas you could spend just pennies per pill by bringing them from home. Also, if you are on any prescription medications, be sure to bring them with you. Otherwise, you will have to pay for a dose or two of the medication from the hospital’s pharmacy (not cheap!).
  • Don’t forget your freebies. Formula and diaper companies often supply hospitals with free diaper bags and samples to send home with new moms. If you aren’t given these items, ask about them. The samples are nice and the diaper bags are usually perfect for dads–plain, neutral colors with little, if any, cutesy designs.
  • Check your bill. You probably wouldn’t pay your server in a restaurant without checking your bill first. Don’t pay your hospital without checking, either. Ask for an itemized bill and then check it and check it again. Errors are extremely common and many people end up paying more than they should as a result. If you have any questions about an item on the bill, ask for an explanation

Pregnant? Start Buying Now

My husband was putting something away in our storage closet the other day and he said, “Honey, do you know we have diapers in here?” The reason this seemed odd to him is because we are currently potty training our youngest. I think he thought I had bought them months (or even years) ago and had simply forgotten about them.

Silly man. He should know me well enough by now to realize that I am stockpiling for our future baby(ies). No, we are not pregnant but we plan to have at least one more baby in the relatively near future. So if I can get diapers dirt cheap now, why would I wait? Here’s an example:

A couple of months ago, I found a case of Huggies diapers (144 count in a size 3) on the clearance rack of my local Kroger. They were marked down to $7.99. Why? Because the box was pretty beat up. The diapers inside were still wrapped in plastic and seemed unscathed by the damage done to the box. To make the deal even sweeter, I had a coupon for $3.00 off Huggies bringing my grand total to $4.99 for a case of 144 diapers. How could I pass that up?

Then there are the wipes. Periodically, Huggies and Pampers will each put out coupons for $2.00 off a box of wipes. At Walmart, those wipes can usually be purchased for right around $2.00 making them FREE! I won’t stock up on wipes until I am pregnant because wipes will eventually dry out or even get moldy (yuck!). But if you already are pregnant, this is a great item to stock up on.

Here is a list of items that are great for stockpiling, even before your baby is born!

  • Diapers — Buy them when you find great deals on them, particularly in a size 2, 3, or 4 (people will probably give you a lot of size 1 diapers when your baby is born). Also, be sure to request diaper samples and add them to the stockpile.
  • Formula — If you plan to formula feed or even just supplement with formula, now is the time to start looking for deals. Recently, Ready-to-Feed Similac was going for less than a dollar because of a high dollar coupon put out by the manufacturer. That is too good to pass up, just watch the expiration dates. Also, samples will start arriving in the mail (with little to no effort on your part). These samples are usually full size cans of formula and can be added to your stockpile.
  • Wipes — Again, watch for free or almost free wipes and stock up at least six months worth.
  • Baby Bottles — I frequently see baby bottles in the clearance section of stores like Target and Walmart. Request manufacturer coupons for bottles and keep them on hand for those clearance sales. You will find that you can get your baby bottles (even brands like Avent) for pennies sometimes!
  • Clothes — Clothing can be tricky because of sizes and genders. However, I always watch for clearance sales on gender-neutral clothing basics like onesies, t-shirts, and pajamas. At the end of the season, you can find amazing prices on these items. If you are already pregnant, you can pretty safely estimate what size your baby will be during his first year of life and buy appropriate clothing at the end of the season.
  • Baby Gear — Every now and then a manufacturer will discontinue an item. This is NOT the same as a recall. They simply quit making a particular style of an item. When this happens, you can sometimes find closeout prices on the item. Such finds are rare but they do happen. When I was pregnant with my son I found a purple bouncer for $14 (it was originally $49). I knew I was having a boy but who cares? He didn’t mind having a purple bouncer!

Frugal Pregnancy Tests

Eventually, my husband and I are planning to have at least one more baby. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking more and more about how to have a frugal pregnancy. My last pregnancy was a pretty frugal one and I’ll get into the details of that in the weeks to come. Right now, though, I thought we’d start at the beginning and talk about pregnancy tests. There is a lot of in-depth information about pregnancy tests out there but I’m going to try to wrap it up in a nutshell for you–how pregnancy tests work, which pregnancy test to use, and how to test for pregnancy frugally.

How Pregnancy Tests Work
The short answer is that home pregnancy tests (HPTs) detect the pregnancy hormone (hCG) in your urine. If hCG is present, it reacts with a chemical on the pregnancy test, causing the positive result line to be revealed.

When To Take a Test
Some HPT’s are designed to detect a very small amount of hCG and can therefore detect pregnancy early. How early? Well, it’s almost unheard of to get a positive result before the eighth day past ovulation (approximately six days before your period is due). Most women won’t get a positive until 10-12 days past ovulation (or 2-4 days before their period is due). Some women won’t see a positive result until their period is actually late. Save your money and don’t take a test until 10 days past ovulation when your chances of getting an accurate result are increasing.

False Results
False negatives are common because a woman may take the test too early. If you get a negative result, wait a few days and try again if your period hasn’t started. Unless you are taking a medication with hCG in it, false positives (with one exception, see below) are virtually non-existant. In other words, if you take a test correctly, read the results in the specified time frame, and are not taking a drug with hCG in it, a positive result means you are pregnant!

Evaporation Lines
Evaporation lines (evaps) are very faint and colorless lines that may appear after the pregnancy test has had time to dry. As long as you discard the negative test ten minutes after taking it, you will likely never encounter an evap.

Pink, Blue, or Digital
Pregnancy tests come in three varieties: pink dye, blue dye, and digital. Stay away from the blue dye tests. They are notorious for producing rather convincing evaporation lines. Digital tests are the most foolproof because you don’t have to interpret the results–the screen either says “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” Pink dye test are the preferred test for many women because they are reliable and can be inexpensive.

Internet Cheapies
Known across the Internet as ICs, Internet Cheapies is a term that refers to very inexpensive tests bought online. They can be purchased for pennies and are considered to be fairly reliable.

Wondfo pregnancy test, a popular brand of Internet cheapies
Dollar Store Tests
Did you know that dollar stores like Dollar Tree sell pregnancy tests for $1? These pink dye tests are the choice of many women who are trying to get pregnant because of their combined cost-effectiveness and reliability. If you can’t find them on your dollar store’s health and beauty aisle, look near the registers where gum, candy, and other impulse items are located.
Answer Tests
Answer brand pregnancy tests are basically cheap name brand tests. You can usually get them for around $5 a piece and they are easily found in drug stores and online.

Answer tests are inexpensive, name brand pregnancy tests.
Other Name Brands
The other name brand tests are all going to run you around $10 a piece, a little more for digitals. Of those, First Response Early Result is probably your best bet because it detects hCG several days before your period is due and it is a pink dye test. From a reliability stand point, though, all pink dye and digital name brand tests are pretty good.
Bottom Line (Just My Opinion, Of Course)
If you are trying to conceive and you plan to test early and often, buy yourself some Internet cheapies or dollar store tests. If you aren’t going to test until your period is late, invest in an Answer brand test.