Prepping During Pregnancy: How to Contribute as a Dad-to-Be

Expecting? It’s an exciting time. As a dad-to-be, you’re probably experiencing a range of emotions. It’s perfectly normal if one of those emotions is fear.

Maybe it’s the fear of bringing a new life into the world. Or maybe worrying if you’ll be a good dad. For me, it was the fear of financial burdens and the logistics of pregnancy and childbirth. There’s a lot to take in and digest over nine months. It’s also a time when you might be using your health plan a lot more than you’re used to.

I’m here to help put your mind at ease and give you an action plan to follow. It’s full of key things I learned along the way that you probably won’t find in your parenting books. Hopefully I can fill in the gaps, so you can spend less time on navigation and more time enjoying the road to fatherhood.

Pick the right plan

My wife and I knew we wanted to have kids in the near future. So we considered that when picking our health plan during open enrollment last year. We picked a plan we thought was best for a new family.

We’re HAP HMO Henry Ford Preferred members. This means that we’re covered to specifically see health care providers who are part of the Henry Ford Health System network. It may sound limiting, but it’s not. Because all of our doctors are in the same network, our monthly premium is lower. And the network is really convenient. My wife’s OB-GYN, the hospital where we delivered (Henry Ford West Bloomfield) and OptimEyes® are only a few miles away from home. We’ve had excellent care every step of the way.

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I encourage you to evaluate your current plan during open enrollment. Sure, you may be paying a lower premium right now, but your deductible and other out-of-pocket costs like coinsurance may be high. Take a look at the full picture including what your deductible, coinsurance and copays will be. If you need help understanding each of these terms and how they play into your total out-of-pocket costs, we have some helpful videos.

If you’ve already picked your plan and open enrollment isn’t around the corner, you’ll still have a chance to change your plan once the baby is born. More on that later.

Use the Health Care Cost Estimator

After you’re happy with your plan, it’s time to do some research. I like to shop around for the best deal or value before I buy. With HAP’s Health Care Cost Estimator, you can search for a treatment or service and get a real look at how much you’ll have to pay before you schedule anything.

I was able to use the tool to research the total cost of a pregnancy and delivery from start to finish, and it was incredibly accurate. Keep in mind that it is an estimate, so your results may vary. But the estimates are based on what other members paid in your area, so it’s a great tool to help you plan.

Set money aside

Your plan may include the option to set pretax money aside in a flexible savings account or a health savings account to pay for qualifying care or services. An HSA can only be used if you have a high deductible health plan, which is a type of plan where you pay all of the costs until the deductible is met.

We have an FSA because HAP offers that option as part of our plan. We set money aside during open enrollment last year to pay for labor and delivery costs as well as our daughter’s first few months of care. I used the Health Care Cost Estimator to help me figure out how much to set aside. It’s really nice to have that money available to us now that the bills are starting to roll in.

Sign up for classes

Check with the hospital you’re delivering at or your OB-GYN for a list of parenting classes you can attend as you get closer to your due date. We delivered at Henry Ford West Bloomfield, where there are several incredibly helpful classes to take advantage of. You have to pay a small fee for most of them, but the investment is more than worth it in my opinion.

We attended these classes:

• The childbirth Super Saturday, which teaches you the ins and outs of labor and delivery
Breastfeeding 101
Infant CPR

I learned way more than I ever thought I would, and all of the courses were taught by highly trained HFHS nurses who all worked at the hospital. The childbirth course also had a time slot just for dads. They brought in guys who had taken the course a few months prior. The presenters gave us an honest rundown of what to expect at the hospital and afterward, and we were able to bounce questions off of them – no matter the topic.

Focus on the outliers

As you get closer to the big day, you’ll probably have everything squared away. The car seat will be installed and the go bags will be packed. Your labor action plan will be ready.

But, if you’re like me, once you’re at the hospital you may feel a little useless since you’re, you know, not gestating or delivering life into the world. While your partner does all of the hard work of bringing a tiny human into the world, there are plenty of things you can do in the background to help.

Number 1Once your baby is born, they need to be added to your health plan. All services given to him or her after birth are billed to them and not to mom. This is where you’ll have the opportunity to also change your health plan if you wish. The birth of your child will trigger a special enrollment period, also known as an SEP. It’s a special window of time, based on your exciting life event, that allows you to adjust your health coverage.

Whether you change your plan is up to you, but you must add your child to your plan. While you’re at it, make sure you pick your child’s primary care physician (the pediatrician you’ve selected). You may find that a default PCP has been selected for your child until you go in and change it.

Number 2 You’ll be presented with a clipboard and a form for the birth certificate the morning after delivery. Make sure you check the box saying you want a Social Security card created, or else you’ll have to make an extra trip out into the world, which is daunting with an infant.

Number 3Schedule your first pediatrician appointment. They usually like to see your child 24 to 48 hours after delivery. Make sure you write down the baby’s discharge weight (the final weight in the hospital before they let you go). Pediatricians want to know how much weight your baby lost after birth (perfectly normal) to gauge their overall health.

Number 4 If your wife will be taking maternity leave from work, call and activate her leave. She’ll be resting and bonding with the baby, so you can help by crossing this off your list. Our maternity leave is managed by an outside vendor, so I had to call and answer a few questions about our hospital stay and my wife’s plans for leave to get the ball rolling.

Number 5If your partner doesn’t already have a breast pump, you may be able to pick it up in the hospital before you are discharged. It should be covered by your plan under the Affordable Care Act, but check with your health plan first to make sure it is. I was able to take the prescription downstairs while my wife and daughter were resting and check one more thing off the list.

My biggest piece of advice is to just relax and take things as they come. My take on life is that no one has it figured out. And, despite your fears, you’re going to do just fine as a parent. Listen to the nurses and doctors, get your partner anything she needs and don’t sweat when the game plan falls apart, because it will. Roll with the punches and adapt.

If you follow the advice above, you’ll have taken care of most of the major stuff, so you can focus on what’s most important: enjoying the new addition to your family.

Read another maternity story:


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Pregnant? 7 Tips to Help You Navigate the Health Care System

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