5 Survival Tips for Pregnant and New Military Moms
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.
Pregnancy and parenting is a challenge in itself, but take into account the military lifestyle and you’ve got your hands full! It’s one thing to handle separations, moves, and deployments as a couple and a whole other ballgame adding kids into the mix. It can seem scary and overwhelming but these tips can help you feel more at ease about becoming a military mom!
Decide Where You Will Deliver
Do you know what Tricare coverage you have? There are different options as to where you can give birth depending on where you’re stationed. If you’re on an instillation with a hospital, you likely have Tricare Prime and can choose to deliver there, or switch your insurance to Tricare Select and choose a civilian provider. If your installation doesn’t have a hospital or you’re not near an instillation, you’ll have Tricare Select and choose a hospital that accepts Tricare to deliver. When I gave birth to my first son, my husband was commanding a recruiting unit and the nearest Army instillation was 8 hours away. Thus, our insurance was Tricare Select and we had the freedom to choose which local hospital to deliver. Whatever option you choose, make sure to do your research to ensure you’re getting the best care possible for you and baby. This is especially important to consider if you have a high-risk pregnancy or if an emergency occurs. For instance, I’m currently stationed at a post with no hospital, but near two local hospitals where I’m able to deliver. One is ten minutes outside the gate and the other is 45 minutes away. I chose to give birth at the one farther away due to its expertise and because it’s located right next to a top-ranked NICU if any complications arose. Thankfully, my birth went phenomenally, but it’s always wise to prepare. You want to make sure the facility you choose is fully equipped to handle emergencies or is close to another hospital that is, for any complications that may arise.
Have a Backup Plan for Your Backup Plan
As you probably already know, the military dictates much of our lives. Because of this, planning anything proves extremely difficult. When it comes to planning your birth, you have to be flexible. Make a game plan for any scenario that may arise. Who will take you to the hospital? If it’s your spouse, have a backup person (or two) in case he can’t make it due to duty. What happens if you have to PCS in the middle of your pregnancy? Do you know how to transfer care? (Hint: Make sure you collect your records at your last OB visit prior to PCSing to hand deliver to your new provider. Also try to make an appointment at your new duty station before you leave your last one. It makes for a smoother transition.) What if the military springs a deployment for your spouse? Will they be able to Skype or FaceTime for the birth? If your spouse isn’t there, who will you have to depend on during labor? Make sure your support system is in place well before you deliver to alleviate any extra stress and worry So you can focus on a happy birthing experience!
Always Accept Help
I’ve fallen into the trap of feeling like I’m burdening others, but have learned that accepting help is not a sign of weakness by any means. Caring for children is no walk in the park. Newborns are hard work and require a lot of attention which may complicate things if you have older children or your spouse is away, or both! If you have a friend, neighbor or family member who offers to cook you a meal, vacuum your house, or take the older children off your hands for a couple of hours, take them up on it! With my first pregnancy, I was exhausted and didn’t have the patience or energy to navigate the beast that is Tricare. Thankfully, my husband stepped up and helped with all the details, including getting me a Tricare breast pump. After my son was born, we PCSed when he was a month old and less than two weeks later, my husband went on an extended TDY. So, there I was, a first-time mom, far from family, in a place where I knew no one. I found the neighborhood group page on Facebook and introduced myself. Soon, I met neighbors who were life savers and offered to cook, clean and lend a hand any way they could. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I was. I quickly learned how military friends become family. With my second son, they cooked meals for us for an entire week as well as made quick errand runs when I couldn’t get out of the house. My typical newborn mom exhaustion was coupled with stress of trying to help my older son adjust to his new sibling and their help gave me one less thing to worry about. Knowing your limits and caring for yourself is essential. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Shake off the Mom Guilt
Motherhood is rewarding but oh so challenging! Everyone has an opinion about what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your children. Don’t fall victim to mom shaming. If you have a gut feeling, trust it. Mommy instincts are there for a reason and they are usually spot-on. Also remember that everyone has off days, even moms. We lose our temper, question our choices, become overwhelmed, and sometimes we’re just a heap of hormonal mush. But you know what? It’s okay to not be okay all the time. Trust in your abilities and shake off the mom guilt. Right now, in this moment, you are exactly the person your child needs you to be and you are a wise, loving and capable mother. You’ve got this!
Utilize Resources for Military Families
There are a slew of resources available for expectant and new military moms. I will only touch on a few because there are so many that listing all of them would make this post much too long.
Websites such as Tricare and Postpartum Support International can give you a wealth of information. These sites are jam-packed with resources and articles relating to everything from insurance questions to freebies such as a Tricare breast pump, newborn care, registering your baby in DEERS, childcare, breastfeeding support, mental health services and so much more!
If you’re located on or near a military instillation, you can contact your PCM or MWR/MCCS for services such as free breastfeeding and parenting classes as well.
1 Natural Way is a fantastic resource for all of your breastfeeding supplies! They carry the most popular brands including Medela, Spectra (my fav) and Kiinde. You can also get breast pump accessories, compression socks and postpartum care supplies and all the breast pump models are covered by Tricare at no out of pocket expense to you. This includes the Medela Freestyle and the Spectra S1 Breast Pump, and the Medela Pump in Style Tote/Backpack. This is awesome because those suckers are expensive!
Another major perk of using 1 Natural Way is that they contact your health insurance provider AND your physician on your behalf. That means you don’t have to hassle with Tricare! YAAASSS!
I really hope these tips help you on your motherhood journey! If you have any tips that helped you become an awesome military mom, share them in the comments!