Welcoming a new baby is exciting but can be stressful. As we prepare for our fourth baby to enter this world, I'm reminded of just how many different things can throw extra stress on top of having a new baby. As an Air Force wife there are two big stressors staring me in the face: an expected TDY the month of my "due date" (that could totally overlap my EDD if travel quarantines, etc are enforced) and a cross country PCS shortly after. As I've been facing these inevitable circumstances, I am acutely reminded of how many unique challenges military families face when welcoming a new baby... even if you've been around the block once or twice. I decided that I want to to do a little series on growing your family in the world of camo, TDYs, deployments, being states or hemispheres away from your family, and all the other less romanticized parts of military life. Disclaimer: We're an Air Force family so I will be most likely using USAF terms throughout the series. Different branches have slightly different terms sometimes, and I apologize if I'm confusing you at all
Today I want to talk to you about the practical: resources available to military families. Perhaps the hardest part of welcoming a new little military brat into the world is not having your friends and family close by. Most of us build some kind of support network and "second family" at our current duty station, but the truth is, the hard days of pregnancy and postpartum feel very isolating and not having your family nearby makes it even harder. What girl doesn't want her mom to be able to come to the rescue at 2 am?
Thankfully, there are many resources out there to lessen the stress-load a little. While nothing will quite match that magic-grandma touch, there are resources to help with the journey.
The Family Readiness Center
Most bases have a family readiness center that provides pregnancy and parenting classes for new parents. This is a great free resource. At the bases we've been to, taking the course also gets you signed up for a baby shower where you get free baby gear!
Drawbacks: Many times these classes and baby showers are limited by rank and depending on your birth philosophy, you may find you need a more personalized course as these are typically generic basics. But a great starting point nonetheless! Currently many of the classes are on hold or have been made virtual. At our base, our current support nurse is not permitted to do home visits. Family Readiness also has resources for postpartum (and every other stage of having military family). At our current base, there is a nurse who is able to provide one-to-one support for sleep coaching, basic breastfeeding questions, etc.
MBRN has chapters around the world that connect families with various forms of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum support. Here you can find birth professionals near you (or virtually!!) to help you prepare for birth, stay fit and active, receive perinatal mental health services, and much more! They're also launching Operation Doula on a very limited basis which provides free doulas for military families.
PSI offers amazing support for families from all backgrounds, but they have special support groups dedicated to the unique challenges of military life. Check out their website now to figure out who the contacts are for your branch, and learn how to join them for weekly support group meetings!
This short list is where you will find the most common support, beyond this, your local area may have additional resources. There are many region-based military focused baby showers that you can sign up for! Check your family readiness center for more resources on your base.
If you're a military family and have used a service not listed above, please share your favorites so that I can add them to the list!
Jaimie Zaki is an Air Force wife, mother, nurse, Certified Birth Doula, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and Birth & Motherhood photographer. Jaimie helps women birth and breastfeed with confidence by teaching them how to learn more about their options, make difficult decisions, become fierce self advocates, and create birth plans that facilitate positive communication between providers. Jaimie offers virtual and in-home support for families who need pregnancy support, labor support, or breastfeeding support. Learn more about Little Bear Services & Jaimie now!