By Lizann Lightfoot
Are you a military spouse who is pregnant? Or did you recently have a baby? If you answered yes, you will want to know about every one of these awesome organizations that supports new military moms.
1.Operation Baby Shower and Operation Shower host baby showers for expecting moms on military bases. These organizations realize that military spouses often live far from their family and may not be able to travel home for a baby shower. Volunteers bring the shower to the spouses! Military units can organize large baby showers before or during a deployment. In some cases, a military base coordinates a large shower event that is open to any expecting moms on base–active duty women or dependent spouses.
2. Star Spangled Babies is part of Operation Homefront’s effort to provide baby showers for new moms on military bases. They host events around the country, using help from the local community to throw a ‘traditional baby shower’ complete with games, food, and lots of gifts for the expecting moms. Their efforts are particularly focused on lower-ranking families who need a little extra support and financial assistance when welcoming a new baby.
Gifts for New Moms
3. The Carrying On Project has a mission to provide military families with free baby carriers, wraps, and slings to be used during military deployments. You can fill out a request on their website for a particular style of baby carrier. Not only does baby-wearing allow the baby to bond better with mom or dad, but it also gives a military spouse the priceless ability to get things done hands-free during a deployment.
4. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers a Junior Sea Bag to anyone completing the Budget for Baby class on a Navy or Marine Corps base. The class is free and offers new parents a chance to learn about making good financial choices and saving money on diapers or formula. The Junior Sea Bag includes crib sheets, baby onesies, and a blanket hand-made by a society volunteer.
5. Support Our Soldiers has a team called “Stork Specialists” who collect and assemble items for care packages for new moms. Military families who need extra support for any reason can receive gifts of diapers, bibs, onesies, handmade quilts, and clothes up to the 12 months size.
6. Operation Top Knot is run by Soldier’s Angels. They make gift baskets for new military spouse moms, which include hand-knit blankets, booties, and hats. The baskets also contain necessary items such as diapers, bottles, bibs, onesies, and grooming kits. The organization will even send bubble gum cigars to the deployed dad, announcing “It’s a Boy!” or “It’s a Girl!”
TRICARE benefits for military spouse moms
7. TRICARE now provides breast pumps to new moms at no cost. You can get a prescription from your OB-GYN during the pregnancy, and have it filled at a number of breastfeeding shops.
Military base hospitals offer a full spectrum of prenatal, birthing, and postpartum care to military dependents. There are many resources available besides prenatal check-ups. During pregnancy, expecting mothers can visit the hospital and tour the labor and delivery ward to ask questions about birth. Fathers can attend free classes called Baby Boot Camp to learn about feeding, washing, and diapering a baby. There are also classes available to help older siblings prepare for a new baby. These classes are free, so check your base hospital for details about signing up.
After giving birth, new moms can meet with a lactation specialist to learn more about breastfeeding. You can also request a home visit from nurses about one week after the baby is born. They will check the baby’s weight, observe your breastfeeding positions, and answer any questions you have about caring for your newborn. All these services are free and included with TRICARE insurance.
Birth and Postpartum Support
8. Operation Special Delivery used to provide free birth coaches called doulas to moms who would deliver alone during a military deployment. The company no longer offers the services for free, but has a military discount for any military dependent who would like a birth coach present during her labor and delivery. The cost is based on the service member’s rank and pay grade.
9. Postpartum Support International (PSI) has a special branch to assist military families. There is a strong link between military deployments and postpartum depression, since new moms are under so much additional stress during that time. PSI reaches out to military families by offering free information, resources, and support personnel for new moms.
Lizann Lightfoot is an associate editor at Military One Click and a Marine Corps spouse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.