Having a baby in the NICU can be a draining experience. We weren’t expecting a serious drop in our finances as a side effect. We had to be creative about ways to save money in the NICU.
When I was pregnant I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 20 weeks, and, even though I had a sick leave at my job (and then a long maternity leave), my paycheck was cut in half.
And, boy, that hit us hard!
After almost 12 weeks of sick leave, when my son was born, we were in a really tight spot.
Of course, at first, money was the least of our problems. But when Oliver was in a better condition, we started to worry.
If this sounds like you, here are 4 creative ways to save money in the NICU.
Save Money by Bringing your own food
Unless your NICU hospital provides for food, it’s always a good idea to bring your own meals to the hospital.
Since you’ll be spending there most of your time, you’ll probably eat there, too. Most hospitals have a parent’s room where you can heat your homemade food and sit down to eat.
Sometimes you’ll find that you won’t have a minute to spare to cook. If that’s your case, maybe you can ask a friend or family to cook for you. I’ve heard amazing stories of collaboration surrounding NICU parents. Don’t be shy to ask for help!
I love this article of Antonia Farzan, in which she describes how her finances improved when cooking at home.
As a plus, you’ll also have more control over what you eat.
It’s much healthier for you, and also for your NICU baby. If you eat healthy food you’ll have more energy, and your baby will know. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll also avoid any potential allergies and food aversion for your little miracle.
It’s a win-win scenario for everyone!
Save Money by Asking for rides
I was lucky enough to have the hospital within walking distance from home.
It would take me 40 minutes each trip, and although this was an advantage, I couldn’t walk for the first month after my C-section… so I thought that the only way of getting there was taking an Uber or a cab… sounds expensive? It was.
After just 1 week we sat down and thought of other ways to get there. We finally put up a board in our building, explaining our situation and asking for people who had similar routes for rides to the hospital. We explained that we were in a tight financial spot.
Although we weren’t really expecting anyone to answer, within one day around 10 people had offered to help us!
We were overwhelmed with their kindness and as of that day, we had a ride to the hospital and back every day.
After Ollie was healthy enough to receive visits at home, we threw a thank you party for our neighbors, and we became close friends with many of them.
Save Money by Asking other NICU Parents for Preemie Clothes
Ollie had been three weeks in the NICU when the nurses gave us great news: He could finally wear clothes!
But, after my long sickness and Oliver’s birth, we just couldn’t afford much.
This didn’t go unnoticed by the parents of other preemie babies, who overheard us talking in the parent’s room about how to save money during our NICU stay.
The next day, they were waiting for us with the clothes their babies had outgrown!
We will be forever grateful to them. After Oliver moved to newborn size, we donated all his preemie clothes to other parents who needed it as well. And the tradition stuck!
Ask around for other NICU parents for help, they, more than anyone else, know exactly what you’re going through.
Save Money by Organizing a NICU Shower
We didn’t have a baby shower. Well, not a regular baby shower at least.
It’s common for preemie parents to miss their baby showers. Since they are usually planned for late pregnancy, most of the time the baby has been born by then, and we are stuck in a NICU frenzy.
So, we decided to turn our baby shower into a NICU shower.
Once Oliver was over his most critical health issues, we could have some room to breathe. So we organized a NICU shower one night, We made a registry of our NICU essentials, and invited our closest friends and family.
It was a great opportunity to show them pictures of our son since it would be months before they could visit him.
If you feel like it, a NICU shower is a great way fo raising awareness and receiving a much needed helping hand!
That’s a Wrap
Everything returned to normal eventually.
Or, as normal as things can get with a preemie toddler running around. And, we have tried to return as much as possible to our NICU community ever since. But we do remember the increasing preoccupation as we ate all of our savings.
Does this sound like you? Can you think of another way to save money during a NICU stay? Share it with us in the comments!