Pregnant? Eight things to do before having a baby.

From buying diapers to saving for college, here are some tips for preparing for your new baby.

Andrew Whitaker/The Saginaw News/AP/File
Beth Sysak and her daughter Claire regard each other in Merrill, Mich. Here are some ideas on how to prepare for your baby's arrival.

You’re pregnant? Congratulations! Here’s a checklist of major things you need to take care of.

1. Understand your maternity coverage and benefits

A study by Truven Health Analytics found that out-of-pocket costs for people with employer-provided health insurance in 2010 ran about $2,200 for vaginal births and $2,700 for cesarean-section births. You’ll want to understand which maternity services your health plan covers and ensure your providers are in your plan’s network. If you don’t have coverage, you should investigate what different providers charge and look into negotiating your bill.

2. Budget

Babies are expensive. Plan for costs now while you’re still getting some sleep.

3. Plan for leave

Understand the law and your company’s policies to know how much time you and your partner can take off and how family leave will affect your budget.

4. Look for childcare

Many parents reserve a spot in childcare as soon as they confirm the pregnancy. That’s because spots in good places can be precious.

5. Buy stuff you’ll need

There are so many things expectant and new parents buy: prenatal vitamins, maternity clothes, a crib, a changing table, a diaper pail, a baby monitor, a car seat, a stroller, a diaper bag, baby clothes, bottles, a high chair, toys, baby-proofing supplies and much, much more.

6. Add your child to your health insurance

Health plans generally give you 30 days from birth to add your child to your policy. Some allow 60 days.

7. Protect your family

In your will, designate a guardian who would care for your child if both parents were to die. Set up a trust that would disburse funds to care for your children if you die, choose a trustee who would manage it, and name the trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance and retirement accounts. If you name minor children as beneficiaries, a court would have to appoint an adult to oversee the money.

If you don’t have life insurance, buy it to protect your family. Buy disability insurance, which you and your family are far more likely to need than life insurance (revisit your needs if you have a policy).

8. Start saving for college

College is expensive, but compound interest will do a lot of the work for you if you start now. Here’s what you need to know about 529 college savings plans and a list of the best plans by state.

There are, of course, many more things expectant and new parents will have to do. But if you tackle these tasks, you’ll be well on your way.

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