Pregnancy Help for New Mothers

a young pregnancy mother holding a book

What you need to know (and what Ann Arbor has to offer) if you’re pregnant.

You’re pregnant. Or you think you are but haven’t checked. Or you took a home pregnancy test, and the results came back positive, but you aren’t sure what that means for you. You have a lot of questions, and you’re not sure where to start.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, there is hope. Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County have a wide range of programs and services in place which can help you understand your new situation and what to do about it. There is a lot you need to know, but you don’t need to know it all at once. So let’s start by tackling the first things first.

Medicaid can help you with prenatal and postnatal care.

If you aren’t covered by medical insurance, finding a doctor will be your primary concern. Pregnant women whose income is at or below 133% of the Federal Poverty level qualify for Medicaid. However, to receive coverage you must first have proof of pregnancy, and your home pregnancy test won’t be enough. Instead, you will need a medical grade pregnancy test in order to qualify. ArborWoman provides these free of charge, and our Ann Arbor clinic on East Liberty accepts walk-ins and has a safe, judgment-free space for you to wait while the results come back.

Once you have proof of pregnancy, you can apply for Medicaid and gain access to the medical services you need. Michigan’s Maternal Infant Help Program (MIHP) is also available for women on Medicaid. It provides up to nine in-home visits for women during their pregnancy and up to nine visits to the woman and child for a year after delivery.

For a more detailed list about pregnancy resources in the area (as well as help with medical care, legal resources, child care, or community support), the University of Michigan health system has put together a directory of resources for young moms in Washtenaw County. It has been updated as of October 2016, and you’ll find ArborWoman in several places on that list.

You don’t need to drastically change your routine (yet).

Of the many questions women want answers to when they first find out they’re pregnant, diet and exercise are often on the top of the list. Sometimes “what can I eat” gets mixed right in with more important questions like “where can I get medical coverage” and “how should I tell my boyfriend.” Questions about diet and exercise are important, and you should write them down to ask your doctor. But try not to worry too much and focus on the more important issues first. For now, cut any substances which you know could be harmful (such as alcohol and tobacco), and eat a well-balanced diet. Save more specific questions for your doctor.

If you aren’t very active, now may be a good time to start some light activity. Regular exercise will improve your circulation, help you control weight, and improve your sleep, leading to a healthier life for both yourself and your child. Walking, swimming, and yoga are all excellent choices, and just 30 minutes a day is enough at the beginning to set you on the right track.

For those who already practice sports or are regulars at the gym, you may need to make an adjustment. Lifting requires proper technique so that you don’t injure your back, but is still safe during pregnancy. However, contact sports should be avoided, as should anything which might cause trauma to the belly area. Check with your doctor if you are unsure if a particular exercise is suitable.

Consult a doctor about your medications.

Once you have a new life growing inside of you, it’s natural to start thinking more about what you put into your body. There are the common-sense do’s (healthy food) and don’ts (alcohol, smoking), but what do you do about prescriptions? There are some prescription medications that could be harmful, but your own safety is just as important. Don’t stop taking any medications until you talk to a doctor (after all, you take them for a reason!). If you are taking a medication, go ahead and call the prescribing physician or a prenatal care provider and ask their advice. It’s important to get these questions answered as soon as you can.

It’s also important to begin taking prenatal vitamins as early as possible, as these will help ensure both you and your child are receiving the right nutrients during the early stages of fetal development. Meijer pharmacies offer free prenatal vitamins for all pregnant women or women trying to conceive, with a prescription. There are two Meijer grocery stores in the Ann Arbor area—one off Carpenter Rd. and the other off Ann Arbor Saline near I-94.

ArborWoman offers free medical grade pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and counseling.

Finding out you’re pregnant for the first time can bring forth a wide range of emotions, from wonder and excitement to shock and anxiety. These are all part of a natural reaction that any young mother has, but they can be even more varied and difficult to work through if you are on your own, struggling financially, or experiencing strain in relationships with your partner, parents, friends, or even coworkers.

In this situation, we want many things: stability, time to think, information, resources. Most importantly, we want to know what to do. Reaching a decision and putting uncertainty aside will be the first step.

If you think you might be pregnant, ArborWoman is here to help. We offer free, laboratory grade pregnancy tests so that you can know for sure, and you can use these results to move forward your Medicaid application. We also offer free, confidential, limited obstetrical ultrasounds so that you can know how far along you are.

But beyond this, we know that having the space you need to come to a decision is crucial during this period. This is why we have a dedicated team of trained counselors who are absolutely committed to providing you with a safe, judgment-free environment as you work through your options. No matter your choice, we want you to leave our clinic with a renewed sense of hope and empowerment.

Schedule an appointment, or come to our downtown location at 625 E. Liberty St. Suite 10, Ann Arbor. (That’s just below Starbucks on the corner of State and Liberty.) Walk-ins are always welcome.

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.