Did you just find out you are pregnant? A little nervous about becoming a mom? Not sure how things will go with a spouse in the military?
Here are 7 tips for a brand new military spouse mom:
Get Your Free Breast Pump
If you didn’t already know, you can get a free breast pump with your TRICARE benefit. How does this work? Each TRICARE beneficiary, no matter the type of service member your spouse is, or their rank, is able to receive one breast pump per birth event, which is a birth or adoption.
There are several companies that work with you to easily get your breast pump through TRICARE. You do need to have a prescription, and you will have to stick to their spending limits. You can also receive breast pump accessories through TRICARE. You can read more about that all here.
Figure Out Your Birth Plan
Before giving birth, you should think about how you want things to go. If you want to have a natural birth, if that is important to you at all, you need to plan for having a natural birth. There are a lot of things you can do to prepare from taking natural birth classes, to learning special labor exercises.
In addition to what type of birth you want, you need to figure out who will be with you during the birth. If your spouse is going to be deployed while you give birth, who will be with you instead? Can you ask a friend or would you rather have your mom or sister there? These are some of the things you need to plan than your civilian friends don’t have to think about.
Make Mom Friends
When you have a new baby, you are going to want to meet other moms who also have kids similar ages. There are many different ways to do so. You don’t have to start motherhood alone.
You can go to your local MOPS group, there are even some Military MOPS groups at certain duty stations. You can find a local playgroup, where you meet once a week and allow your baby to “play” while you chat with the other parents. You can also connect with other moms online, from joining a due date group to a local group with moms in your area.
Signing Up For TRICARE
You are going to want to make sure you sign your newborn up for TRICARE as soon as possible. You start by signing them up for DEERs, which stands for Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. You have 90 days to do so if you are in the states, and 120 days if you are overseas.
After they are in DEERS, they will automatically be put into TRICARE Prime if you are in a Prime Service Area. If not, they will be put into TRICARE Select. You then have 90 days to change to a different plan if you want to.
If you are overseas, they will be automatically enrolled to TRICARE Select and you will have 90 days to change to TRICARE Overseas as long as they are Command Sponsored.
If you are a National Guard or Reserve family, you would need to sign up them for TRICARE Reserve Select if you are using that insurance. You would also need to sign them up for DEERS as active duty does.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to have their social security number when you sign them up for DEERS and can add that later after you receive it. This also applies to adopted children as well as children you are adding to your family. Please visit TRICARE for the most updated information on this as well as other details about the process.
Baby Stuff Everywhere
One of the things about having a new baby is you are going to be tempted to buy all the things. There are so many different products out there, for almost anything you can think of. Think about what you would really need and what will work best for you and your baby.
We always loved having a co-sleeper of some kind, a stroller, and a good baby carrier. Talk to your friends about the products they have loved and used. You can always wait until after they are born for many of the baby items.
Shopping second hand will save you a lot of money. When I was pregnant with my 3rd little boy, I went around on the post-wide garage sale day and found so many things I needed for super cheap. Some baby items only get used a few times and can still be in good condition. Just be careful about buying products like a crib, and car seat second hand and read up on any recalls that might have come out.
The CDC Is Your Best Friend
The CDC, Child Development Center at your duty station should offer some sort of hourly care option. Hourly care saved my life. When we were a new military family, with a young 18-month-old, I signed him up and took him several times a week.
I loved how flexible hourly care was, how he got to play with other kids, and they always seem to give us free hours during a deployment. The CDC saved me during deployments, and any other time I needed a break from my kids, even if it was just to have a few hours to myself.
I know some CDCs might have some issues. I would look into your CDC, talk to other moms, and see if using hourly care could be a good option for you. They might also have regular pre-school type programs if you want something more regular for your child.
Solo Parenting Can Be Rough
Solo parenting is going to be apart of your life if you are a military spouse. Sometimes you might be alone for a few weeks, other times, for a few months. Hopefully, you won’t have to go as long as we did during our first deployment.
Being a solo parent is all about finding what will work for you and your kids. You will have to take the days one at a time. You might also have to give up on some parenting ideals.
However, you will figure everything out. There is a lot of support out there through friends and even your military installation. You don’t have to go through all of this all by yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out, and remember, you won’t be a solo parent forever.
How long have you been a mom? What are your best tips for the new military spouse mom?