State maternity benefit is currently given over a twenty-six week period.
In a perfect world, money wouldn't even be a consideration when it comes to having a baby. It does tend to be one of the first questions on the list for a lot of people though. When people say "all a baby needs is love" it isn't entirely true. Love is definitely the most important thing but there are certain things you must either buy or acquire in order to care for your baby's needs.
There is no exact amount of money that perfectly covers the requirements of a small baby. So much of it depends on your living situation, lifestyle and personal taste. For example, someone who drives may not want to invest in an expensive travel system that won't be used a huge amount. Other families will heavily rely on public transport and the travel system will be the most important purchase to ensure that their baby is safe, warm and protected in all weather conditions and terrains.
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby then you won't necessarily have to worry about feeding paraphernalia such as feeding bottles and sterilizers. However, your situation could require you needing to express breastmilk and for this, you will need a breast pump.
A travel system (most include a car seat) and a bed are two fundamentals when a baby comes along. There is a huge selection of both to suit all budgets. For example, my entire travel system (including car seat, rain cover etc) was €300 but my best friend paid €1000 for her preferred brand. The same can be said for your baby's bed. You will need a Moses basket or a co-sleeper along with sheets and appropriate blankets (cellular blankets are recommended and pillows of any kind are not).
Your maternity hospital will provide a list of items to pack in your "hospital bag". This bag will contain everything you and your baby (or babies) will need when you go in to deliver them. For the baby, this list includes items such as long-sleeved vests, sleepsuits, baby hats and newborn sized nappies. It is a good guide to take inspiration from but naturally, the quantities only reflect a short stay in hospital so you will need more then they have listed.
In terms of "life with a baby" they will require very little other than nappies, wipes (cotton wool and warm water is recommended for the first few days) clothes, milk and somewhere safe and warm to sleep. It is a good idea to consider stocking up on items such as baby pain relief (for when they are old enough and may be teething or run a fever, for example) soothers (if you decide to use them) and some sensory toys. Babies do not need toys but many parents find brightly coloured sensory toys that attach to the car seat/buggy work well for their baby.
A baby bouncer is a really helpful product for those first couple of months. It is helpful to have somewhere to put the baby down when you are taking a phone call or having something to eat. Many have inbuilt mobiles or toys attached which babies tend to enjoy when they are a couple of months old and take notice.
Your weekly food/household shop shouldn't increase dramatically. Nappies and wipes are very affordable but if you stock up during the pregnancy you may find yourself not needing them for several months after the baby is born. If you are formula feeding, you will have to include this in your budget. A tub of formula typically costs between €12 and €15.
When it comes to clothes you will more than likely acquire a nice amount of them as gifts. It is great to accept hand-me-downs from close friends and family too. It will save you money, particularly at a stage where there may be 2-3 changes a day between the baby spitting up and having a poonami. They grow so quickly at this stage and before you know it, you're packing away those first clothes wondering where time has gone.
Do your research when it comes to the "extras". Products that may not be essential but that you have noticed a lot of people have. Sleeping pods, nests, slings and specialized blankets should all be researched extensively to ensure that safety and practicalities are considered.
Your baby's medical care will be free of charge as they will receive free GP care under the current government incentive. GP, PHN, Hospital and Vaccination visits won't cost you a thing.
When maternity leave comes to an end childcare may be a consideration for your family. Do some research and make inquiries as early as possible to ensure that your baby gets a space in the desired childcare setting.
State maternity benefit is currently given over a twenty-six week period. You are entitled to take (up to) another sixteen weeks extra but this is unpaid leave. This means that your employer is required to allow you to take this time off but there is no maternity benefit payment offered to you by the state for these weeks.
For this reason, it is a good idea to consider this time off during your pregnancy as you may have to save a certain sum of money to cover your bills and living expenses for this period of time. It is also important to consider that while your partner will be entitled to paternity leave, that payment may be less than their regular salary.
So there you have it - realistically it is a bit of a "how long is a piece of string" situation. The cost of having a baby differs from family to family but I think it's safe to say that some budgeting and planning is required for all to ensure that financial stress is not something you be worrying about at such a magical and life-affirming time.