If you’re expecting or if you’re a new mom, then you probably have a lot on your mind. Pregnant military spouses and new moms face the same struggles as every other mom, plus additional ones unique to their family’s life situation — especially if their significant other is deployed. For those missing someone they love that lives far away, you’re not alone. Pregnancy and the first few months with your newborn is still an exciting time for you and your growing family.
If you are a pregnant army wife or new mom, knowing some essential tips for navigating the harder parts of this journey can help you to focus more on the magical ones. Read on for some military spouse pregnancy benefits and other tips you don’t want to miss!
1. Take Advantage of TRICARE
When you become the spouse of an active duty or retired servicemember, you are automatically eligible for military benefits, including access to TRICARE. This service covers most medically necessary inpatient and outpatient care and also provides substantial pharmacy benefits. This can help you handle the financial cost throughout your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey.
2. Take Classes
Even if a PCS move has put you far from family, you’re not alone. As a pregnant military wife or new mom, there is naturally a lot for you to learn. Take advantage of any classes and other military spouse pregnancy benefits available at your military base. Many military installations offer childbirth or parenting classes that are affordable or even free for military spouses. You can learn a lot on varying subjects, from newborn care to budgeting with a baby and more.
3. Look into Paternity Leave
If you’re a pregnant military wife, you may think there’s no such thing as paternity leave for your deployed husband but that’s not always the case. Married soldiers who are also new dads are now able to take up to 10 days of leave time — and that’s nonchargeable. Each branch has different rules, policies, and regulations, so make sure you check into what’s required for your spouse. Eligibility for paternity leave always requires that the servicemember is on active duty and married.
4. Stock Up on Necessities
Before your baby is born is the best time to stock up on things you may need. After the baby comes, you may or may not feel up to leaving the house to run to the grocery or drug store.
Stock up on toiletries, paper products, and canned and frozen foods. You can even cook yourself some meals to keep in the freezer to make food preparation even easier.
5. Consider Mail-Order Subscriptions
Online ordering and mail delivery might be a life-saver during your pregnancy and once you become a new mom. Not only will you save yourself the trip to the store, but you can often save yourself money off retail prices by bulk ordering online. Think about setting up subscriptions for diapers, wipes, baby formula, and anything else you may need regularly. Pro tip: When bulk-ordering diapers, remember to size up as the baby grows or you’ll end up with too many of the wrong size.
6. When Someone Offers to Help, Accept It
If you’re a pregnant military spouse, you already have it hard enough. Don’t make things harder on yourself by refusing help when people offer it. If someone offers to bring you a meal, accept it and maybe ask them to join you for dinner, too. If someone suggests helping you paint a nursery room, don’t say “no” right away. Bottom line: If someone asks what you need, actually tell them what you need. Especially if what you need is a nap and time to take care of yourself! There’s no need to do everything yourself, especially when someone is offering to help.
7. Try to Maintain a Healthy Diet
This is one of the best tips when you’re pregnant: Do your best to resist junk food and stay as healthy as you can. While it’s perfectly normal to have cravings throughout your pregnancy for sweets, junk food, or even strange food combinations, make sure you’re eating enough calories to help your growing baby, especially proteins and foods rich in calcium.
Giving into cravings is good every now and then — one could argue it’s a form of self-care — just be sure to have a healthy balance. Check with your doctor for more information about prenatal vitamins and other dietary restrictions you should follow throughout your pregnancy.
8. Know When to Call a Doctor
A lot of new and unusual things will happen to your body throughout your pregnancy. Many of these things are perfectly normal, but others are not. Educate yourself so you know when to call your doctor. Here are some reasons that warrant a doctor’s attention: Vaginal bleeding (or any fluid leaks), contractors that are 20 minutes apart or less, strong cramps, strange pain of any kind, heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting, decreased activity of the baby.
9. Prioritize Self-Care
Throughout your pregnancy and when the baby comes, self-care is an easy thing to forget about, but that doesn’t mean neglecting yourself is okay or healthy for you or the baby. Prioritize your self-care. Make sure you’re able to take a shower, eat nutritious food, participate in hobbies you enjoy, run an errand alone, and do anything else you may need to stay physically and mentally well. Having a baby is life-changing but it doesn’t mean you don’t still get to live your life.
As you navigate life as a pregnant military wife or new mom, know you’re not alone and there are a lot of military spouse pregnancy benefits available to you. This is a temporary season of life, but feel free to ask for whatever help you need.