Money worries are something that most new mums have to deal with. Even if you're planning on returning to work before long, for at least a few months you'll take a cut in income just as you take on all the new costs associated with a baby. If you or your partner are staying at home with the baby for some time then you will lose part or all of one salary, and even if you do manage to both work relatively soon after your baby is born, you will still have the costs of childcare to meet.
So how do other new parents manage? Well, before you panic, things might not be quite so bad as they first appear. Although you won't be able to avoid certain new-baby expenditures, new parents often think that they need many more things than they actually do need (you can check what the newborn essentials are here). It's also the case that in many ways your lifestyle with a new baby might bring its own savings - you probably won't be eating out so much, going for nights out on the town or have much time or use for some of the other indulgencies you may have spent money on in your child-free life. This may not counter your parental spending, but it should help at least a little.
No-one can pretend that children don't bring a financial burden with them though, and for most parents this will mean keeping a sharper eye on the finances and some adjustment of spending habits. You might feel particularly pressured if you moved house and took on a bigger mortgage to accommodate your growing family, you have bought a family-sized car, or made similar changes to adapt to your circumstances.
Making ends meet
If money is an ongoing concern then don't stick your head in the sand and pretend it's not happening, it will only get worse. One common effect of financial worries is stress which can cloud your judgement, lead to consolation spending, and bring its own costs through the impact on your health.
Take control of the situation by sitting down and writing down your outgoings and incomings and drawing up a budget to stick to. Remember that nearly every family writes itself a budget, and it's only common sense for every financial situation. If you have a partner it's important that you work together in the financial planning as financial disagreements are one of the most common causes of family strife. Try to anticipate potential problems and side-step them in as far as you can by good budgeting, and you will be able to get through the lean times, even if it means tightening your belt and adjusting your lifestyle or expectations. Prioritise what is really important to you when planning your spending and agree any extra-ordinary spending in advance; you'll need to avoid impulse purchases. If you have a partner it's important that you work to
Dealing with financial dependency
Even if you are reasonably off as a family, you may not be free from money worries if you yourself are earning less and have become financially dependent on your partner to some degree. Feeling that you are losing financial independence can be a very thorny issue, and as with any other financial concern, it's one that's best tackled head-on. Sit down and talk with your partner about how you will handle the finances, divide your family income and divvy up the household responsibilities. It's important that you come to an arrangement that you both feel is fair. And remember, if you are spending more time at home with your baby you are making a very real contribution to the family - financially and emotionally. Don't feel that the main breadwinner is 'supporting you', remember rather that you are supporting each other.
Clear your head
Whatever the exact source of your money worries, it's easy to become stressed out and ground down by them, and so end up resenting your baby, your partner or both. Try to avoid a downwards emotional spiral by prioritising your health - eat healthily, exercise regularly if you can, and seek support from friends - to give yourself the mental energy you'll need to find and take positive steps to deal with the situation.
And don't forget to check our practical tips for saving money as a new parent.