If you just found out you’re pregnant, it can be difficult to imagine the upcoming changes in your life. Pregnancy should be a joyous time spent thinking about and planning for the arrival of your new little bundle of joy. Sadly, thinking about the financial burdens of parenthood, make pregnancy stressful for many mothers-to-be. If you’re worried about the cost of a doctor, delivery, lost wages and any other expenses, take a deep breath and learn more about the resources available to expectant moms and dads.
Financial Help for Women Who are Pregnant
Pregnant women have many extra expenses, from copays for a doctor’s visit or trip to a women’s clinic, to laboratory testing and other diagnostic medical imaging tests. It is worth noting that the actual delivery and hospital stay following the birth may have an additional copay as well. Infants need a lot of items for their everyday care, such as a crib, diapers and car seat. It can all feel overwhelming, but there is help available.
You may be fortunate enough to get maternity leave, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get a paycheck while you’re caring for your new little one. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires most employers to provide women with up to 12 weeks of time off to take care of a newborn. But there is no requirement to pay employees for that time. FMLA only applies to employers with over 50 employees, and employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous year to qualify. It would be beneficial to check your standing before you take leave to understand how FMLA works, and what you need to do to receive your benefits.
Working moms can often talk to their employer about maximizing their sick leave and PTO during a pregnancy. To save money while not working, it might be beneficial to check your deductions from your paycheck during the months leading up to the delivery date in which you are working. Reduce your 401k contributions, make sure that your employer is taking out the right amount of taxes and not too much. If you plan to keep your health insurance while you’re taking leave, make sure to talk to your employer about how you will pay your portion.
So what should you do when you find out you’re pregnant and may need some financial assistance?
Government Assistance Programs
National and local governments offer many resources for expecting and new mothers, especially for low-income families. Even if you have a good job, it can be beneficial to research local programs that could help you save money during and after your pregnancy. Your local health department can refer you to benefits that you might qualify for, and the U.S. Health and Human Services can also help you find more information.
These programs might be of help:
- WIC (Women, Infants and Children) – provides supplemental nutritious food to pregnant and breastfeeding women, along with health screenings and education. The local Gainesville office is convenient to many NTMC patients.
- CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) – and Medicaid – offers financial help to make sure pregnant women and children receive adequate healthcare. Requirements will vary by state, but these programs can pay for healthcare.
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) – provides low-income families with nutritious food, once called food stamps. Income requirements will vary, based on location and number of people in the household.
- TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) – program to provide monetary assistance for needy families, allowing you to care for your child in your own home.
- HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) – a home visiting program that helps you find the resources you need to make a difference in your child’s life.
There are many other organizations that offer programs and education for expectant mothers, such as Planned Parenthood, Lamaze International, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The more information you have for your pregnancy, the better decisions you can make.
Other Resources for Help
Crowdfunding can help you ease the burden on your finances, too. You can ask friends and family members for gifts to help you pay immediate expenses. You should look for ways to pay off debt before you take maternity leave in order to free up more of your income. Also, be sure to check your expenses, if you’re paying for a gym membership or Netflix that you aren’t using, be sure to cancel those.
Short-term disability can be used to pay a portion of your wages while you’re on pregnancy leave. However, in Texas, you must purchase your policy before you become pregnant. Additionally, you will have to buy a private insurance policy, as Texas does not have short-term disability. Generally speaking, you have to purchase this policy at least a year before you need it.
Many women can get financial help through baby showers or hand-me-downs. Although you should not use a second-hand car seat, many other baby items can be passed down. Clothes, blankets, toys, and bottles don’t get a lot of use before they are outgrown. Ask your friends and family members to save you items from their older children. If someone offers to host a baby shower, let them give you a party to bless your newborn with items you need.
Choosing a Care Provider if in Labor
Although it might sound like something out of the movies, some women do not realize they are pregnant until they are in labor. Ideally, a woman should get prenatal care as soon as possible in their pregnancy, but it doesn’t always happen. If you are looking for a care provider to deliver your baby, North Texas Medical Center can provide you with the comfort and attention you need to know that you are in good hands.
Our providers have the latest technology to help ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. We offer customized care that fits your needs, from a regular check-up to ultrasound at any stage of your pregnancy, as well as through postpartum care. Our Women’s Center is comfortable, featuring private labor-delivery rooms and private rooms following your delivery.
At NTMC your baby can stay with you as much as you want. We don’t limit visiting hours, except at your request. Your friends and family can stay with you as much or as little as you want. We have resources to help you learn to take care of your baby before you go home. Additionally, bilingual services are available if you require them for yourself or your family. We want to support you and your family as much as we can.
Take Care of Your Needs
If you just found out you’re pregnant, it can be stressful, in part because it means you will soon be responsible for someone else. There’s no shame in finding resources to help you reduce your anxiety, whether it’s financial, emotional, physical or spiritual. Use the programs available to you to get a good start with your newborn and ensure a healthy life for your child.