If you were to take a poll at your next Family Readiness Group (FRG) meeting on who has given birth during a deployment, you might be surprised or even shocked. Having a baby while your spouse is far from home is not the rare occurrence one might imagine. Of the military spouse friends I have come to know through the years, several have given birth without their husband. One spouse has given birth to all three of her children during deployments. I am in awe of these women. The strength and courage of these military spouses is incredible. They are each role models to other military spouses who find themselves in this situation and prove that it indeed can be done.
If you are currently experiencing a pregnancy during a deployment and your spouse will not be home in time for the birth of your child, here is some valuable information from MilitaryOneSource.com to help ensure you have the support you need:
Before your due date
The military offers many resources for expectant parents. You can learn what's available through your Family Support Center. It's also important to do the following:
- Be sure you are enrolled in the TRICARE region where you live. Visit TRICARE for information on covered services and other maternity care programs.
- Enroll in a childbirth or parenting class. Find out about classes from your installation's New Parent Support Program, Family Support Center, or your hospital.
- Meet other parents. If you are new to your installation, you can meet people by getting involved with volunteer organizations, family readiness groups, and spouse's clubs.
- Ask a close friend or family member to be your labor coach. It can be reassuring to have a familiar face with you during childbirth. Through a program called Operation Special Delivery, you can sign up for the volunteer services of a doula. A doula provides information as well as emotional and physical support during pregnancy, labor, and just after the baby is born.
- Keep the phone number of your health care provider handy. It's a good idea to post this number by the telephone where you can find it if you have a question.
- Find out what support services your hospital or MTF offers. Some facilities offer breastfeeding support for new mothers and hotlines to call when you have concerns about yourself or your newborn.
- Prearrange transportation to the hospital. Make arrangements with a close friend or family member to drive you to the hospital when you are ready to give birth.
- Pack your bag ahead of time. That will give you one less thing to do when you go into labor.
- Ask someone to take care of pets if you have any. Hire a pet sitter or leave a key with a friend or neighbor.
- Obtain a medical power of attorney. Choose a family member or trusted friend to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. Your installation's Legal Assistance Office can help you with this.
- Contact the local Red Cross. Find out what information the Red Cross will need in order to contact your husband if you can't locate him when you go into labor.
For more information on including your spouse in your pregnancy, helping your spouse connect with your new baby and more, visit: Militaryonesource.mil
I encourage you reach out to your fellow military spouse friends, command wives, neighbors on your block and ask them if they have given birth during a deployment or long separation. Chances are someone you already know has been through this experience. Listen to their story, and take comfort in knowing you are not alone.
How have you handled a pregnancy and giving birth during a deployment or long separation?