Overcoming constant change and impacting a community by providing support and resources.
Let’s get to know you.
We are stationed at RAF Lakenheath, in the “Tribase” area including RAF Mildenhall and RAF Feltwell. We also have two other bases nearly an hour away that deliver on RAFL as well as the local facilities. I am the Wife of an active Duty member. This is our first overseas assignment together, my second base as a Doula and my 4th time starting a “new job” at a new location.
What inspired you to take on the task of running a MBRN Chapter?
I was talking to a women who recently moved here from Okinawa, we were talking about my job and how the birth workshop was recently cancelled. She asked if I have ever heard of the MBRN, I hadn't so I looked it up emailed Amanda that day. She raved about the programs that they had at her last base and the many resources and opportunities that the families had. She also said they received support from the facilities and other birth workers as well as the team they had established with each other helping bridge the gap we experience with moving often.
The community has changed a lot in the now 3.5 years that we have lived here. PCS changes have taken us from 10 or so Doulas down to 3. It has been a struggle for me personally, to rebuild from having experience working with the support of an agency to being independent. I'm hoping with everyone coming together, it will not only build the chapter, but support each other as we individually grow.
What support do you find many military families lack?
When I moved here there was a full day hands on CBE workshop that was able to go into detail of comfort measures, what to expect in labour, support options, etc. That is now changed and we are seeing the loss of birth classes and missing information. Tricare changes have also affected those families delivering off base and receiving 1:1 care with their midwives.
What are some challenges military families have during pregnancy and childbirth?
There is a lack of choices in birthing location, due to the Tricare changes home birth options that were used a lot here are now paid out of pocket and limited. The support and knowledge of how to choose and move locations off base is proving to be a challenge. Most military families are away from their close family support. Considering we are overseas it makes the trip longer and more expensive to get to family here. That will always be a Military challenge and drive the need for support.
What kind of impact do you see your presence in the community being?
We as a chapter hope to impact the community by educating women and their families on not only the resources available to them but the options they have when it comes to having a baby. Women who are educated on their rights and are aware of the choices they have will more than likely have a better birthing experience. A network with sources providing continuity of care, connecting both Business’ and families during their PCS.
Share with us something inspiring about you. What are some of the volunteer efforts and ways you’ve given back to your community?
When I first got here I joined some other doulas hosting the only free birth workshop in the area. With a team of doulas we also hosted interest events such as babywearing, car seat safety, partners and doulas, ect. This last year, since the birth workshop is no longer hosted with the doulas, I have been holding a monthly meet-up that covers comfort measures, what to expect during pregnancy, birth, postpartum and feeding as well as providing the local and online resources for further interest. I have also organized doula trainings and other professional classes.
What is one word of advice you’d give to your community?