By Tara Smith
& Guest Blogger
My husband and I are expecting our first child in May 2023. We are excited and nervous about what is to come, but we are what you would consider older parents to be. Saying that adding a child to our very settled life will be easy is an understatement! What is that quote by Benjamin Franklin? “Plan to fail; fail to plan.” Yeah, that’s the one! Remember that your baby counts on you. So, educate yourself for the best possible outcome.
When we started planning for our baby, we quickly understood that we were overwhelmed by all the options. The good news is that many military bases offer parenting classes to first-time parents. You can participate in these classes even if this is not your first child.
Many classes are provided through Health Promotion and Wellness at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune (NHCL), where we are currently stationed. However, you can always check your base medical center for locations, times, and dates of classes offered.
Some bases offer early pregnancy classes to help you prepare.
Here are just a few:
- Early Pregnancy: Learn what to expect during your pregnancy.
- Nutrition & Exercise During Pregnancy: Gain the right amount of weight for you and the baby, reduce congenital disabilities, and prepare for labor.
- Pregnancy Exercise Program (PEP): Meet other pregnant spouses in group fitness classes.
- Tobacco-Free Pregnancy: Get the support you need to quit tobacco during pregnancy. You can take this class later in your pregnancy.
- Gestational Diabetes (GD) Class: Learn how to stay healthy during pregnancy despite having GD. You can take this class later in your pregnancy.
Pregnancy classes are also offered later in pregnancy.
You can take these around the 7-8-month mark:
- Lamaze Certified Childbirth Education Class: Learn what to expect and how to cope during labor.
- Infant Care: Learn about your newborn and how to provide the best care.
- Siblings Class: This hands-on class prepares children, ages 3-9 years old, for a new baby.
A Registered Nurse, Certified Fitness Trainer, and Dietician teach these courses. Husbands, partners, and other support persons can attend these classes. I have chosen to deliver off-base; however, the local hospital offers additional classes, such as Parent Education Resources, Childbirth Education, and Breastfeeding.
Whatever choice you make, make it count! These classes fill up quickly. My advice is to plan accordingly. These are unique opportunities, and I hope you, your loved one, and your baby all have a successful pregnancy journey.
Tara is an active-duty Marine Corps spouse of 10 years. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who provides therapy to children and their families. Tara is a SpouseLink Ambassador, an expecting mother, and has one horse and two dogs. In her spare time, you will find her working out, walking her dogs, and spending time with her horse.