“The first three months of a baby’s life will be a complete write-off, so don’t expect to be doing much in the way of admin.”—Nadine Barkay, BumptoBaby midwife, Remedy Healthcare.
- Do as much as you can during the pregnancy so you don’t feel so overwhelmed post-birth.
- Get professional advice you trust on updating your will and managing your estate as the baby’s arrival can cause changes.
- Make sure you complete the official admin, such as registering your baby’s birth and adding them to your Medicare card.
The arrival of a new baby is joyous, exciting—and utterly exhausting! No matter how meticulously you’ve prepared, you’re still going to be in for a chaotic few months that pass by in a blur of sleepless nights, endless nappies, crying, feeding and cuddles.
Of course it’s a magical time too, but it doesn’t help that there is so much important admin to do as well—and not all of it is straightforward.
Here are a few of the things that new parents should consider both during pregnancy and when that cute new member of your family has arrived.
Get prepared in advance
“It’s a good idea to give Australian Unity a call as soon as you find out you’re expecting,” advises Rebecca Doherty, Customer Solutions Team Leader at Australian Unity. “To help reduce out-of-pocket expenses we can do a hospital eligibility check and find out if your obstetrician participates in gap cover.”
BumptoBaby is a program delivered by Australian Unity’s Remedy Healthcare, providing support and information for expectant parents with eligible cover. BumptoBaby midwife, Nadine Barkay, says the best advice she ever received was to make the most of the months when the baby is safely tucked inside you.
“The first three months of a baby’s life will be a complete write-off, so don’t expect to be doing much in the way of admin. The more you can do while you’re pregnant, the better those early weeks will be. Have low expectations about what you can achieve post-birth and you’ll be happier!”
“Having a baby is a light bulb moment for most people,” says Anna Hacker, Australian Unity’s National Manager of Estate Planning. “Holding this helpless little person, they think ‘Wow—I’m actually responsible for someone else!’”
Suddenly you need to have plans in place to make sure your family is protected, whatever happens.
“Children are really expensive. Imagine if your partner suddenly passes away and you’re down to one income with no-one to share the responsibilities,” she says. “I’ve seen terrible situations where the remaining parent has to look after the house and family on their own, as well as working longer hours to pay the bills.
“It’s important to get advice you can trust to work out exactly how much you’ll need and the life insurance policy that suits you, so you have the option of giving up work to look after the children if you want to.”
And death isn’t the only scary scenario to consider. What if you’re permanently disabled or lose your job? Anna believes critical illness and income protection cover can give you the peace of mind that your family will be looked after if the worst happens.
Where there’s a will
Half of all Australian adults don’t have a valid will, which can cause heartbreaking difficulties for families left behind.
Many of us put off making a will, thinking it’s not urgent, but, when you have a family, it is. And even if you have made one, you’ll need to update it each time you have a baby.
“People often worry about making a will and think it’s going to be expensive and complicated, but it really isn’t!” says Anna. “We can talk them through what they need to do.”
When you start a family, your will isn’t just about who gets the antique clock your gran gave you or the contents of your bank account. It’s about who’ll raise your children if the unthinkable happens.
It’s why it’s important to get professional advice and be prepared. According to Anna, here’s what you need to be aware of when it comes to appointing your children’s guardian:
- Kids don’t always go to the person nominated in the will. They’ll actually go to whoever the court thinks is the most appropriate person at the time.
- If the other parent is alive, they will be the most obvious choice. So if you have compelling reasons as to why you don’t want that to happen, you need to prepare statements, letters of wishes, court records and even affidavits so your lawyer can make a case.
- You might not want your in-laws to be chosen as guardians, but on the face of it they’re the grandparents; again, you’ll need to make sure the court has all the details of why you don’t wish them to care for your children.
As Anna says: “These discussions give people a chance to understand what it is that we do and whether it’s the right thing for them before they commit.”
The new-baby checklist
While there are lots of lists describing how to get ready for baby—what to buy, how to do up the nursery, what to eat or which vitamins to take—there are also some official things you need to consider once baby has arrived:
- If both parents were born overseas, you might need to check the baby’s residency status. If either parent is a citizen or permanent resident, then the baby should automatically be an Australian citizen. The government has a website with the information you need.with the information you need.
- You will need to register your baby’s birth through your state’s or territory’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry.
- If you’re planning on accessing government parental leave pay or the Family Tax Benefit, you’ll need to register the baby through Centrelink.
- The baby will need to be added to your Medicare card using myGov.
- Contact Australian Unity within 30 days of the birth to add the baby to your health insurance policy. If you already have a family policy, you have 12 months to add your baby.
- Contact your council so they can assign a child health nurse to you. Your hospital may notify the council for you.
Don’t forget to look after you
When there’s a new baby in the house, it’s the centre of attention. So many friends and family pop round to have a cuddle and a cuppa that you may feel like installing a turnstile. And it’s usually you who will be filling the kettle and replenishing the plate of Tim Tams.
According to Nadine, new mums need to do something that doesn’t always come naturally. “It can be really hard for women today to ask for help. We’re so independent, so strong and so capable that we think we can cope with anything,” she says. “Recognising that we’re allowed to ask for help is probably the biggest change in our mindset.
“We’ve got careers, we’re multifaceted people who can of course do everything for ourselves. But if the trade-off is 10 more minutes’ sleep, maybe you can let your mother-in-law do it.”
Recognising the wellbeing challenges that pregnancy and parenthood can bring is part of the reason Australian Unity offers its BumptoBaby program. This dedicated team of midwives and child health nurses providing practical, reassuring and confidential guidance, and a friendly voice when you most need it.
Having a baby is, undoubtedly, a seismic change in your life—and there’s plenty of admin that goes along with that. But with the right help and a bit of planning, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is of a general nature. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest. Interviewee titles and employer are cited as at the time of interview and may have changed since publication.