Being pregnant on base can be as exciting as it is nerve-racking. Here are a few things you should know about being pregnant on base.
You peed on the stick, now what? The first person you should contact after taking a pregnancy test and celebrating with your spouse, is your insurance company. TriCare covers prenatal care, but there are limits. Before you even consider shopping around for an Obstetritian, you must make an appointment with your primary care doctor and request a referral from him or her. TriCare will cover the following services to monitor the health of your baby of if you have a high-risk pregnancy: Amniocentesis, Chordocentesis, Chorionic villis sampling, Fetal stress test, Electronic fetal monitoring and ultrasounds for a number, but not all of the reasons you may need one. TriCare covers ultrasounds use to estimate growth, evaluate growth, conduct a biophysical evaluation for fetal well-being, find the cause of vaginal bleeding, evaluate a suspected ectopic pregnancy, confirm heart activity, evaluate maternal pelvic masses or uterine abnormalities, evaluate suspected hydatidiform mole, evaluate the fetus’s condition in the late registrants for prenatal care. In other words, TriCare will not cover the cost of an ultrasound just because you want to take a peek at the sweet little pea growing inside of you. Regular doctor visits are important throughout your pregnancy and most doctors will work with you to make sure you’re getting the best care your medical coverage allows. In addition to getting the medical attention you’re entitled to and require, it is important to make sure you’re aware different programs both on and off base designed to keep you healthy and prepare you for your upcoming bundle of joy’s arrival.
Is it really already time to find childcare?
If the first person you call is your insurance provider, if you plan to return to work after the baby is born, the second person you need to call is the Child Development Center (CDC) or Resource and Referral Office on base. Each CDC fills up quickly on most bases and waiting lists to have your child placed inside a classroom often extend beyond 6 months. It may seem crazy to sign up for a waiting list before your child is even born, but if you want to ensure your child has a spot, you will need to start dialing those numbers early.
Women, Infant and Children Program
The Women, Infant and Children Program (WIC) is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. The food and nutrition program is designed to prevent malnutrition in low-income pregnant females, breastfeeding mothers, new mothers, infants and children up to the age of 5 years old. In many cases, enlisted military personnel are also eligible to take advantage of WIC coupons. According to the USDA, “WIC provides nutritious foods such as dairy products, beans and peanut butter. Infants may receive iron-fortified formula, cereal and juice. Participants receive coupons that they may redeem for food at retail stores which are authorized to accept WIC coupons.” Commissaries on base accept WIC coupons often label which items are eligible right on the shelves of stores. Finding out if your family is eligible for WIC is as simple as calling (800)345-1942.
American Red Cross
If you’re going through the bulk of your pregnancy while your spouse is deployed, you’ll certainly want to be in contact with the American Red Cross. This is especially important if you’re expected due date falls within the dates your husband will be deployed or training somewhere away from home. Their Communications Center is available to assist you during emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Current military members and their family members can call (877)272-7337. To place an emergency call, you’ll need the service member’s full, legal name; rank or rating; branch of service; the service member’s Social Security number, date of birth and military unit address; If the person is deployed, information about the deployed unit and home base unit will also be required. It is best to get all of this information from your spouse before he deploys and keep it handy at all times so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute in a time of chaos.
Shop with discounts and ask for freebies
It never hurts to ask. Many stores, including resale shops, offer a 10% military discount. Imagine how much money you can save stocking up on all of those baby necessities by shopping at resale shops like Once Upon a Child when you use a military discount on top of the already marked down prices. Some organizations even offer free samples and gifts for expectant military moms. Operation Homefront showers mothers-to-be with their Star-Spangled Babies program. They began taking care of military family members more than a decade ago and have grown to operate nationwide with 23 chapters serving 50 states with more than 33,000 volunteers and more than 105,000 families served and counting.
Stay in the know
We’re all on the go and it can be easy to lose track of time and forget important dates. Even when your preparing to meet the greatest love of your life, it is possible to get distracted and miss an important doctor’s appointment or sleep through an alarm clock. There are several free tools out there designed to keep you on schedule and keep your informed when it comes to educational tools that will help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible. The Department of Defense has partnered with Mary (Tib) Camprise, a licensed Clinical Social Worker, to keep moms-to-be updated on need-to-know information during their pregnancies through The Parent Review. The weekly newsletter is delivered write to your inbox and full of trusted resources to guide you through prenatal care and the early stages of childhood. This New Parent Support Program includes customizable tools to make sure you’re getting the information you want to receive each week. Another free program to consider is Text4Baby. All you have to do is text ‘BABY’ to 511411 and when prompted enter your due date and zip code to subscribe to appointment reminder services, fun pregnancy facts and important health information. The service can be cancelled at any time by texting ‘STOP’ or ‘HELP’ for technical support. The tech savvy mom-to-be will also want to check out social groups in base neighborhood or online. Asking around in conversation or searching facebook for groups near you can be a great way to connect with other women and build a support group. Many military installations are home to social groups, such as Stroller Warriors and others. Meeting women with the same interests going through the same life changes you’re experiencing is a wonderful way to ease stress and smooth transitions for the whole family.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
You have nothing to lose by asking for help and information. Contacting the hospital on base and asking to speak with someone who can answer questions about prenatal care, searching for lactation consultants and simply stopping someone at the Commissary to ask a question is ok. If you see a woman walking through the store with a diaper bag you like, ask her where she got it. If you don’t feel prepared and know you’re going to be stressed because your spouse is gone, contact your Family Readiness Officer and see what resources he or she can provide to make this experience enjoyable for you. No question is too silly and no response should be taken for granted, that is what community is all about – connecting and sharing, so connect and share with the women around you today!