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Couples spend bundle to speed process of having a baby

| Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Many couples in their 20s and 30s who want to have a baby are spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on fertility-inducing products and services designed to speed the process, according to a survey that offers greater insight into the financial and emotional costs associated with getting pregnant.

Pregnancy and parenting website's annual cost of child-rearing report for the first time asked about costs associated with conception as well as giving birth, subjects not often included in parenting surveys.

Of the 1,289 women surveyed online (moms or pregnant with a first child), findings show:

• Almost half spent money on products or services to encourage pregnancy, from ovulation kits and fertility tests to vitamin supplements and in vitro fertilization. The average cost was $465.

• 54 percent said it took less than six months to conceive; 16 percent say it took more than a year.

• 27 percent said they received financial help from their parents or in-laws during the pregnancy or baby's first year; 10 percent lived with parents to save money to start a family.

“Today young couples are really deciding how many do we want and what's the right moment to have a child,” said Linda Murray, editor of the San Francisco-based website. “Once that moment hits, and they're really trying, people want to be successful as soon as possible. We've been noticing more and more that people are actively trying to conceive and do whatever they can to hasten that process.”

The combination of women delaying a first child and technologies that help assist pregnancy are making women a bit more anxious, suggested Shari Brasner, an obstetrician-gynecologist in New York City. She said she's sensed a “certain paranoia” surrounding pregnancy.

“Everybody they know has a story about trouble getting pregnant or getting pregnant and having a miscarriage,” she said.

Susan Dewald, 33, a mother of three in Sheridan, Wyo., understands that thinking.

“When you decide to have kids, you want to get it done because it's a process that takes nine months,” she said. “When you do start having kids at 25 or 30, and you look ahead to when they're college-age, and you're looking at 50 or 60, you say, ‘I want it to happen now.' ”

Dewald said it took took 2½ years to get pregnant with her 4-year-old daughter, Delinda, so she tried ovulation kits and hormone therapy as well as consulting an IVF specialist but didn't do the procedure. She got pregnant but had a miscarriage. Six months later, she was pregnant with now-4-month-old fraternal twins Douglas and Delaney. She estimates that she spent $2,000 to $3,000 in pregnancy efforts.

Laura Jones, 29, a hotel guest services manager in Valrico, Fla., is pregnant with a son — the couple's first — due in December. She and her husband, Kevin Jones, 35, have been married for three years.

“Originally, we had planned to start sooner, but we wanted to make sure we were settled down first,” Jones said. “The economy was still in the tanker, so we decided to wait a couple of years because we wanted to buy a house first.”

Just 8 percent of those surveyed said they did nothing different to save money since getting pregnant or having a baby. But Laura Jones said they've started trimming expenses.

“We're cutting back to save money and get our mindset ready,” she said.

Stay-at-home mother Danielle Evans, 33, of Howell, N.J., has two daughters, ages 2½ and 5 months.

“We've never paid a baby sitter,” Evans said. “My mom will baby-sit. But we don't really spend money on going out ourselves. We did on our wedding anniversary two years ago. That was the last time we went away for a weekend together.”

Even though parents say they cut back on expenses, they are starting to feel like maybe they're spending too much on the kids.

In this year's survey, 66 percent said that — a 22 percent increase over last year.

The survey asked about costs associated with the birth of a child, and found:

• The average cost for the birth of their child (before insurance) was $7,805; 40 percent say they spent $10,000 or more and 17 percent say they spent $5,000-$9,999. A quarter didn't know how much they spent.

• Out-of-pocket costs for the birth averaged $897.

The website's survey was conducted about the same time the federal government estimated that parents of a baby born in 2012 will spend $217,000 to $500,000 to raise a child to age 18 — not including college.

Annual costs for child-rearing, including housing, health care and child care, are estimated to be almost $13,000.

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