Surprised to learn that you’re pregnant? Scared? Shocked? There’s no correct way to react. Every emotion you’re feeling now is completely justified, because it’s yours.
You don’t have to choose right away, but know that you have options. You might not be ready to become a parent, and that’s okay. You can begin researching your other choices, adoption and abortion, right now. When it’s time to make a decision, you’ll make the right one.
Whatever you ultimately decide to do, it’s essential to receive proper medical care. This is our guide to finding free or low-cost health care if you live in or around Wilmington, but most of the suggestions we make will work just as well no matter where in Delaware you live.
How To Get Prenatal Care In Delaware
Healthcare that you receive while you’re pregnant is called “pre-natal care” and it’s the only way to keep yourself, and your baby, healthy. Even if you don’t make much money, or can’t get health insurance through your parents, there are many State and Federal programs that can help.
While some states still have subsidized (“paid for through taxes”) health insurance programs for low-income families, Delaware doesn’t anymore. Instead, you can find an insurance plan that works for you through Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace.
You’ll enter your household income and some other details, and the program will tell you how much of your insurance will be paid for by the government. This money is called the “Premium Tax Credit,” and it can cover most, if not all, of your monthly insurance bills. You can find a guide that will let you know if you qualify for the Credit here.
Community Health Centers Can Also Help
Above we talked about getting health insurance, which will pay for the costs of prenatal care at a lot of different doctors.
You can also go to a community health center (CHC) in your area and get checkups, prescriptions and any lab tests done on an as-needed basis. The doctors at a CHC won’t care whether or not you have insurance. Some offer completely free care, others will decide how much you owe based on how much you make, so your bills are never too much.
Wilmington is home to four community health centers offering prenatal care to pregnant women on a “sliding fee scale,” which means you’ll pay only what your income can handle:
- Henrietta Johnson Medical Center
601 New Castle Avenue
Wilmington, DE 19801
- Saint Francis Family Practice
7th and Clayton Streets
Wilmington, DE 19805
- Westside Family Healthcare
1802 West 4th Street
Wilmington, DE 19805
- Wilmington Hospital Health Center
501 West 14th Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Most of those Community Health Centers offer free pregnancy tests, so if you’ve noticed the early signs of being pregnant, but aren’t certain, you can find out for sure.
Don’t live in Wilmington? Here’s a full list of every CHC in Delaware. Some of these clinics will need you to make an appointment first, so it’s a good to call ahead before you stop in. With that being said, if you think you’re having an emergency, don’t hesitate to visit an Emergency Room or one of the CHCs we mentioned, whichever is closer.
Another program, Smart Start, is more education than treatment-based, but it’s really worth checking out. After you enroll, you’ll be paired with a pregnancy counselor who will make in-home visits.
They can answer any questions you have and help you prepare for your child’s birth. They’ll also guide on you making the healthiest eating choices for your changing body, and help you understand necessary parenting skills.
After Your Baby Is Born
Most Community Health Centers have the resources for you to give birth and recover after delivery. If one doesn’t, they’ll refer you to a local hospital where you’ll be treated at no, or very little, cost.
Once your child is born, Delaware has several programs that can help you prepare your home for a baby and make the best choices for your child’s health.
Women, Infants & Children (WIC)
WIC is a program for families at “nutritional risk,” either because of pre-existing medical conditions or because some communities have little to no access to healthy eating options.
Sign up for WIC and you’ll meet with a health professional who will assess your eating habits and medical history. If you qualify, you’ll receive vouchers that can be redeemed at local businesses for specific nutritional foods.
To find out if you can apply, click here.
Home Visiting Program
Have a question about the best way to take care of your baby? For first-time parents, Delaware has a Home Visiting program that can help. A nurse will visit you at home, check on your baby’s health and provide answers to any questions you have.
There’s no way to sign up for Home Visits on-line or over the phone. Instead, you’ll have to bring it up at the hospital after delivery. Just ask about the program and they’ll be able to tell you if you qualify.
Finding What You Need When You’re Not Sure What It Is
We’ve really only scratched the surface. There are many more programs offered in Delaware for expectant parents and those with newborns at home.
You can find a full list here, but the best idea is probably to get an appointment at a Community Health Center. One of their main jobs is to give out “referrals.” All you need to do is tell them what help you’re looking for, and they’ll be able to find it.