Giving birth alone? Here are some ideas to help you navigate.

Time after time, I hear stories of women who are in the birthing room by themselves for one reason or another. There are many different reasons, but often mom is alone because her spouse is deployed, she is a single active duty mom, or perhaps she is stationed halfway around the world and  does not have access to a good support network.  

So what can you do? Here is a list of proactive ideas to empower you throughout your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

1. Ask for help.Research your base resources to see what is available. Each branch of service offers their own parent support groups. For example, MCCS offers New Parent Support.  You may find classes or nurses who do in home visits. Oftentimes your command can be a good resource for information, though this can vary from base to base.

2. Take advantage of any classes offered. Whether they're on or off base. Newborn classes can be beneficial in learning how to care for your baby. There are usually variety of other classes to choose from such as childbirth to budgeting for baby. You will also meet other moms, who are either pros or new to parenting. Having another mom close by, even just to text for encouragement, can be a nice mood booster.

3. Research your childcare options as soon as possible. CDCs may fill up quickly, sometimes up to a year in advance. If you want to cloth diaper, some places may not offer that as an option so you will need to consider that when choosing care. Childcare will also need to be put into your budget, as it can cost anywhere from 17-40% of a single income.

4. Find a doula. You do not have to do this alone. Even if a family member is able to be present, a doula will be able to provide that non-judgmental, informational and emotional support in your birthing facility. The Military Birth Resource Network has several chapters located throughout the states and abroad. Many of the chapters have doulas who are very familiar with on base hospitals and maintain a good relationship with providers.  Your doula can connect you with many local resources, as well.

5. Get out of the house. I understand how difficult it can be connecting with others at a new duty station. Our lifestyle is so transient, and support comes and goes. If you’re at a new duty station, it can be daunting finding a new village. If you can connect with just a few, you will find that there really are amazing people out there! Social media has it perks in locating many of these groups, but you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Lately, I see a lot of moms participating in fitness groups like Stroller Warriors, MOPS, or base programs, if available. Many times you’ll find other mothers creating events for coffee or play dates.

6. Get a plan together for after delivery. Recovery varies from person to person; if a woman has a cesarean, she may not be as mobile.  Prepare food before hand that can easily be heated up. Find out if any of the wives set up meal trains for new moms.  It’s worth asking! Set up times for friends to come in and check on you; they can come hold the baby so you can shower or take a small break. Plan to have someone drive you to and from appointments. A great option is hiring a postpartum doula to help you transition into your new life more smoothly.  They are there to help with breastfeeding, light housework, and with other important factors of having a newborn and mother’s self care.

7. If you are working, when the time comes to go back, have a group of people you can trust to get your baby in the case of an emergency or if you unable to pick your little one up right away from work. Having a backup plan is helpful. If you are planning to breastfeed and continue with pumping at work, find out where you can be comfortable doing so. Breastfeeding in Combat Boots is a great resource for active duty moms.

You don’t have to be alone through this journey.  Make the step to reach out and find support. There are people who can help. You just have to ask.