Having a Baby as a Military Wife
If you’re a new military wife, trying to find your way around the base and the military rules and regulations can be difficult enough. But if you’re dealing with being pregnant and possibly delivering without your spouse by your side, it might seem easier to throw in the towel and go home to mom until you have the baby.
Since that isn’t always an option, you may have to learn to navigate the military health care system, figure out ways to keep your husband involved in the pregnancy and birth and find a support system with other military spouses.
Navigating the Military Health System
Tricare insurance provides health care for military families. But Tricare comes in several different packages, all of which require that you enroll first in the DEERS program for dependents.
Tricare Prime, Tricare Extra and Tricare Standard all provide maternity benefits. If you’re receiving your care through a military treatment facility, or MTF, you may deliver at a military hospital if there’s one nearby. If you plan to use an off-base obstetrician and hospital, check to make sure they take the type of Tricare insurance that you have. In some cases, you might have to obtain referrals for care from an outside provider. You may also have to pay deductibles and some portion of your care.
Dealing With an Absent Partner
If your husband is gone for part of your pregnancy or for the delivery, look for ways to keep him involved. Many military families keep in touch regularly through computer services that allow you to see each other while you talk, even though the picture quality might not be perfect. Cell phones, if he’s reachable by one, will also keep him in touch with what’s happening on the home front. Email pictures or videos of ultrasounds, your pregnant belly and the sound of your baby’s heartbeat to keep him involved even at a distance.
Building a Support Team
You can go through the experience of pregnancy, labor and delivery alone, but it will be much more bearable if you’ve built a support team to help you through it. If you live on or near the base, help and friendship is no further away than your neighbors or other wives whose husbands are in the same boat — sometimes literally.
While you might not want to move in with mom, there’s nothing wrong with asking her to come out right before your due date or to stay with you for a short time if you’re having a hard time. If you’d rather not have a close friend or relative in the delivery room, sign up for the volunteer services of a trained doula through Operation Special Delivery.
If your husband is on a long deployment, he might be able to take his two-week leave period around the time that your baby’s due. Even if he doesn’t make it home for the baby’s birth, he can spend a few weeks with baby and help you recover. In addition, the military grants 10 days of paternity leave, which can be used within 60 days of redeployment.
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