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Pregnant In The Army: 15 Facts About Being A Military Mom

Being pregnant is a unique and magical experience for all mothers, especially if it is our first pregnancy, where it is normal to being overwhelmed by nerves and doubts. But usually, moms-to-be are accompanied by the emotion of sharing this experience with their loved ones and partners. And the best part is that moms always have the advice of their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends who have already gone through this experience, so moms-to-be often feel accompanied and safer during this process.

But have we ever thought about what it is like to be pregnant and belong to the military? Well, rest assured that it is not an easy experience and we must add all the nerves and natural worries moms have plus her duties as an active soldier. And of course, we must take into consideration that each country is different and has its own rules but in the case of the United States, the army offers accommodations for women who become pregnant during their active service. Such accommodations include changes in duties, schedules, and physical fitness requirements. Besides, the army's standards of fitness allow women to continue their service during and after their pregnancy. In addition, this regulation is designed to ensure the welfare, health, and safety of the mother and her baby

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15 The First Thing They Should Do Is Call Their Insurance

According to the Military Spouse website, after having a pregnancy test and notifying their partner, the first person they should contact is their insurance company to make an appointment with your primary care doctor and request a referral.

But the reality is that Tricare only covers all services for pregnancies considered high risk cataloged as Amniocentesis, Cordocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, fetal stress test, electronic fetal monitoring and ultrasound. But of course, this does not mean that the mother will not receive the medical attention she needs.

In fact, mothers receive regular visits to the doctor and their assigned doctor will work with them to obtain the best possible care.

In addition, the Tricare program covers the use of ultrasound to estimate and evaluate growth, perform a biophysical evaluation of fetal well-being, find the cause of vaginal bleeding, evaluate a suspected ectopic pregnancy, confirm cardiac activity, evaluate pelvic masses or uterine abnormalities, evaluate the possible hydatidiform mole, and finally, evaluate the condition of the fetus in late registered applicants for prenatal care.

But it is always recommended that mothers know the different programs, both inside and outside the base, because Tricare covers the evaluations or medical exams only when they are necessary, what it means that if the mother wishes to have an echo just because she wants to see how the baby is doing that week will not be approved without an important reason to do it.

14 Don't Have To Do Usual Physical Training

The Fit Scoop
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We all know the hard physical training that our honorable soldiers perform daily, either because we have a relative or friend in the military or even thanks to the Hollywood movies, although they do not come close to reality. They  give us an idea about the type of training our soldiers do every day. And this is because being in shape is not an option, it is a necessity. Not only does it teach discipline, but when they are needed for special operations in other regions or countries, soldiers must be in good physical conditions.

So, many should be wondering right now, and what happens when a woman becomes pregnant while is she active in military service?

According to the website Mom.me, the moms-to-be that are in service are exempted from the regular workout and physical training after having been evaluated by a doctor to check their pregnancy.

But this does not mean that they stopped exercising, they simply entered into a modified regime that allows them to stay in shape without harming the baby, but of course this only happens with normal pregnancies, in the case of high-risk pregnancies, rest is assigned and they perform other types of activities, but pregnant women are generally encouraged to continue with an active and healthy lifestyle.

13 Expecting Moms Get A New Uniform

Air Force Times

Being pregnant implies changes in mom's body and of course over the months her belly will begin to grow, so it is not surprising that at some point her usual clothes stop fitting in the right places. This isn't the biggest problem for women who have jobs and common lives. But women who work in the armed forces must go through other types of protocols and do not have as many options (when it comes to clothing) as we do.

According to the website Mom.me, when the uniform doesn't fit pregnant woman in service anymore, they are granted a certified maternity uniform that is adapted to the changes that are taking place in their body.

This allows them greater comfort and mobility with a uniform specially designed for their state, which significantly influences in their performance because if someone feels comfortable they will work more peacefully and optimally.

Not only do they get a different uniform, but their commander may authorize a different footwear. But this is at his/ her discretion or criterion to determine if the woman in service needs a different kind of shoe ideal for pregnant women.

12 There Is No Privacy

Duck of Minerva
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When a person decides to join the army of their country, it doesn't matter if is man or woman, they must understand that privacy ceases to exist. And this is because their superiors must be aware of everything that soldiers do regardless of their rank. Even communications between people in service with their relatives in the outside world can be limited by security issues.

And the same goes for their health because they must constantly notify their superiors in case of illness or changes such as pregnancy.

According to Raleigh Duttweiler, in her article for the website Military.com, she explains her experience regarding privacy and being pregnant "We lost a baby last Spring, and I just wasn't ready to announce a maybe to the world until we were through the first trimester. But hahaha! That's so funny. When you are required to attend a baby class (or as I called it, "morning sickness for beginners") that goes on the schedule and your husband gets off work to attend, surprise! Everyone knows you're pregnant."

Unfortunately, they do not have control over what they want to share or not, when they join the military there are rules that each person must follow because that is how it works so that there is an order within the organization and they can perform their work in the best possible way.

11 Work Duties Usually Stay The Same

Military.com

Probably many would expect that after announcing that they are pregnant a mom does not have to work till the birth, but things do not work like that in the military. According to the website Mom.me after they have informed their command about their pregnancy, some changes will be made regarding the duties they must fulfill. Probably the servicewoman, her commander, and a third party will plan a new work plan where they will specify in detail the duties she will perform, her new schedule and the restrictions of the woman in service.

If she has a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy, she will most likely continue working throughout the pregnancy until she gives birth.

However, in the case of high-risk pregnancies, their service is usually suspended (if it's necessary) or the commanders will look for duties that the woman can perform and do not require much effort for the mother.

In some cases, if the commander considers it appropriate, the woman in service can be transferred or relocated to another workplace or base, where conditions are more suitable and healthy for her, either because at the current base they are working with chemical products or because her job was to lift very heavy objects, which can harm the baby and the mom, to mention a few examples.

10 There Are Classes To Learn All About Pregnancy

SouthFront.com
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In the military, it is believed that the most important thing is education, discipline and being prepared for any eventuality. For this reason, it is not surprising that they offer courses for expectant couples regarding pregnancy and babies.

According to the Military website, the American military offers classes about everything, literally any topic related to babies and pregnancies, such as how to put a diaper on a baby, what parents should buy for the baby, all about childbirth and birth options, methods to manage pain during childbirth, and breastfeeding, among others.

However, these classes are not optional. Parents must take these classes to acquire the necessary knowledge before the arrival of the baby and be ready.

The negative part of all this? There is no privacy. In fact, couples are forced to take classes even before they have reached the 12 weeks of pregnancy and this is because it is mandatory to notify about suspected pregnancy immediately so in that way, if the test is positive, it can be done the necessary modifications in the woman's work plan and update her report or profile. But the positive thing about all this is that at least the army cares about offering all the necessary tools and knowledge to the future parents so that the adaptation process is not so complicated.

9 A Call Dropped Is A Big Deal

Military.com

For people who belong to the military and their families, a dropped call has a totally different meaning because there are no guarantees of being able to reestablish the connection. And in general, women who work in the military usually marry men  who belong to the military as well, and it's more common than what many people expect that army couples end up in missions in different bases or regions.

So, try to picture how precious those moments are that for the rest of us are normal, something as simple as a phone call. When a call is dropped with a spouse in the military, their first instinct is anguish because they do not know if they can reestablish the connection or if something happened. And add to that a pregnant mom in the service with her partner at another base, it makes these calls their most precious moment of the day or the week (or even month in some cases), because it is the time when they can talk with their partner and keep them up to date with all the pregnancy advances and personal stuff. But this not only affects the couple but also family. A pregnancy is news that every woman wants to share with their friends and family but sometimes technology and national security protocols prevent this type of communication from being so frequent or fluent as we expect with our loved ones when we work in the army.

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8 Sometimes You Will Have To Do It Alone

Travis Air Force Base
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As I previously explained, parents in the military have no guarantee that during pregnancy they will be together all the time. It depends on the range and duties of each one. So it is normal that sometimes mothers are doing many of the tasks necessary to prepare for the arrival of the baby alone because they can not bring all their family (especially their mothers) to help them on base.

And between the hustle and bustle of fulfilling their duties, moms can sometimes forget important appointments with the doctor or lose track of time.

For this reason, the military has created free tools that keep moms-to-be informed.

According to the Military Spouse website, the Department of Defense has partnered with Mary Camprise for expectant mothers to obtain a weekly The Parent Review newsletter, with all the necessary resources to guide them through prenatal care and the early stages of childhood. Another free tool is Text4Baby, where only by sending a text message with the word 'BABY' to 511411 plus the answers of a series of questions, mothers can subscribe to the service that can remind them information about their health and curious facts about pregnancies in each stage. And finally, military facilities are home to social groups such as Stroller Warriors among others, this allows mothers to meet other women, share their experiences and support each other.

7 Getting Help Is Not As Easy As We Thought

Yes, mothers in the army have access to endless tools, courses, medical attention, and information in all their presentations and colors.

But that doesn't mean that they answer their concerns and help them to find practical solutions according to their needs or their problems.

According to Raleigh Duttweiler, in her article for the website Military.com, she explains her experience regarding help and being pregnant in the army: "First of all, I fell into that whole breast-is-best thing hook, line, and sinker. Second of all, my kiddo can't nurse effectively. Breast pump to the rescue! (Formula could quite possibly be the saner decision, but we'll put that on hold for now.) I have talked to a handful of lactation consultants at two different bases. The most detailed answer I received to any of my pumping-based questions? 'I don't do pumpers.'"

And she continues: "Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal to you. But when you're a new mom and trying to feed your kid and sleeping in two-hour spurts and eight hours from family with not a ton of friends in your area? Having a lactation consultant whose whole job is to help you refuse to do just that is kind of awful."

Sadly, this type of situation can become frustrating when women are dealing with too many things that are unknown to a new mother, and not having their family close by to help or support them generates more stress. But women in service must deal with this type of situation on a daily basis and find solutions that work for them.

6 Pregnancy During Deployment May Mean Relocation

NPR
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Of course, in this type of work so structured there are special rules for pregnant women in service, which consist of taking care of their health and physical condition to avoid risks or damage to the fetus. These types of programs are designed in conjunction with their commander and a third party to ensure that the pregnant woman can feel comfortable and that her pregnancy does not interfere with her activities or work performance.

According to the Mom.me website, in many cases the commanders, upon being informed that one of the women in their unit is pregnant, decides to carry out a transfer process.

That is, they are sent back to the home base after they have passed a certain number of weeks in their pregnancy. This allows that the mother can has the best possible medical attention in case she needs it.

Additionally, in a forum on the What to Expect website, a user explained her experience with deployment and said that women should not consider it a punishment by her superiors. "They have to take you off at a certain time (I forget the current amount of weeks) because it could be dangerous to you and the baby, but this is protocol in the Navy, I'm not sure about other branches."

5 Childcare Is Still Difficult To Get

Military.com

In the military people can never leave something for later, things must be done in advance and scheduled in case of eventualities in order to find suitable solutions on time. And when it comes to pregnancies this rule also applies. From the first moment that a woman discovers that she is pregnant, she should begin to think about childcare.

After announcing to their partner that they are pregnant and calling their insurance provider, the second call a woman must make is to the Child Development Center (CDC), especially if the mother plans to return to work after the birth of the baby. The CDC are centers that are responsible for caring for children when the mother wants to return to their work obligations in the army. But due to the high demand in each base, spaces are often filled quickly so they have to sign up on the waiting lists as soon as possible if they want to find a vacancy for their child in the desired work base.

Usually, waiting lists extend beyond 6 months, so that future mothers cannot hesitate before enrolling.

It's advised in these cases that if the couple wants to have a child and they are already trying to get pregnant they should ask for information about the waiting lists in their base and check if they can sign up before getting pregnant.

4 (Usually) Six Weeks Of Maternity Leave

Parents Magazine
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According to  Mom.me, the Department of Defense policy states that women in service after giving birth have a permit of up to six weeks for maternity. But of course each branch or sub-delegation has its specific rules and guidelines about maternity leave, for which it is recommended that moms-to-be discuss these details with their commanders or superiors in order to have all the necessary information and clarify any doubts they have regarding the type of maternity leave they can obtain in their case.

For these reasons, women in service must know their rights and obligations to be able to organize their time and all the necessary things before the arrival of the baby. In this way, when they have their child and get their maternity leave, they can focus on situations such as adapting to the baby, breastfeeding, and anything that requires the mother be 100% focused on her child.

That period of 6 weeks allows moms to adapt to her new role and to create routines for the baby that will help them both when she has to return to work, avoiding a difficult transition for the baby and the mother.

The period of 6 weeks can be extended in special cases, but the mother should consult with her superiors.

3 Kept Close To The Baby For Months

Army Times

According to the website Work.chron, after mothers have given birth their doctor will change their pregnancy profile to a convalescing status for a standard length of 45 days. If the woman had a pregnancy and delivery without complications, in the case of pregnancies or deliveries that suffered difficulties they extend the period of time. But in cases of normal pregnancies, mothers can resume their physical fitness step by step. However, the army exempts women from a standard physical training for 180 days and it requires the approval of a doctor to resume the full program.

On the other hand, during the first months after their request, the commanders of their unit cannot assign them to a position abroad that does not allow the dependents to accompany the soldier in that determined region, meaning that temporary-duty stations are restricted during the first 4 months after giving birth. That is because the first 4 months are fundamental in the life of a baby because it begins a process of adaptation outside the uterus, and those first months of life the baby needs the contact of his/her mother, food, and the protection that she offers to be able to begin the process of independence and autonomy.

2 Shop With Discounts

Richmond Times-Dispatch
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One of the wonderful advantages of working in the army is that there are discount programs in many stores and places for people who perform military service for their country, especially for pregnant women.

Usually, the stores offer a 10% discount, now just imagine how much money can be saved by buying in resale stores like Once Upon a Child or simply using the discounts offered by other stores for the military.

The moms-to-be should take advantage of this type of offers because they can get everything their baby needs at much lower costs or even for free because there are organizations that offer free gifts and samples for expectant parents who are in active service.

For example, the Homefront operation together with its Star-Spangled Babies program, has been providing baby supplies to more than 14,000 families for more than a decade in 50 states with the help of more than 33,000 volunteers, helping families who have participated by serving their country, be it members of the service of the injured or members of the junior and junior service, and their families.

When families feel that their finances are tight and they are expecting to add a new member to the family, it is best to go to these types of organizations and use any type of discount they can get.

1 Access To Food And Nutrition Program

ParentMap

Belonging to the army and having a family does not only bring benefits such as store discounts. Women who provide active service or even the wives of soldiers obtain food benefits, for them when they are pregnant and for the baby after they are born.

According to the Military Spouse website, there are aid programs in the United States, which are responsible for providing the best quality of services and food for the families of their honorable soldiers, such as the Women Infants and Children Program (WIC) that is funded by the Department of Agriculture. This food and nutrition program was designed primarily to prevent malnutrition in low-income pregnant women, nursing mothers, first-time mothers, infants and children up to 5 years of age. But in many cases, enlisted military personnel can also get benefits from these types of programs and their coupons, and according to the USDA, "WIC offers nutritious foods such as dairy products, beans, and peanut butter. Moreover, babies can receive formula fortified with iron, cereal, and juice, and the select people can receive coupons that can be redeemed for food at retail stores that are authorized to accept WIC vouchers."

As active or even retired staff from the army, what they need to do is call the program's telephone numbers and find out if their family is eligible to receive WIC benefits.

References: Military.com, Militaryspouse.com, Mom.me, Work.chron.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Mom365.com, Whattoexpect.com, Operationhomefront.org

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