by Megan Harless, Lead Doula of Stars and Stripes Doulas of Hampton Roads
Finding out you are pregnant is usually an exciting and fun time! You get to figure out how to decorate a nursery, pick a name, and shop for all of the cutest outfits.
As a military family, it also sometimes involve making a backup plan. What happens if my spouse isn't home for the birth? It's a question we often want to ignore, but even today units are still deploying around the world, and it is still a very real possibility.
This has been me — twice.
If you think this might be your possibility, here are some ways on how you can prepare for it now.
1- Know The Possibility.
While deployments are slowing down, they are still happening. Have a realistic view of when your spouse might be on the next rotation. While units do everything they can to get your spouse home in time for the birth, sometimes it just doesn't happen.
2- Have A Plan.
When you decide on your birth plan, add in there your spouse plan. What do you do if they aren't home? Does your BFF, and mom join you in the delivery room? How do you notify your spouse you are in labor. Walk through the scenario and make your plan now.
3- Have A Good Provider.
I was very fortunate enough to have 2 amazing providers. One tried everything to make sure the moment was captured and recorded for my husband to see later. The other provider, the nurse sat on the bed, hugged and cried with me when we discovered that I was going into labor early. Having a good provider can make all the difference.
4- Capture The Moment.
When I arrived at the hospital, I either had a friend, or made sure the nurse knew where my camera was. The one thing I requested was that someone took pictures. I didn't care who they were — a friend, nurse, PA, janitor, someone was to pick up that camera and take pictures. Be prepared that you might get some really good, front row, viewing pictures of your baby being born that should be left for you and your husband to see, but you'll get some great pictures!
Also, with how great technology is these days, you also have the ability to set up Skype or FaceTime so your spouse can still see it happen and talk to you.
5- Make Your Spouse's Presence Known.
I had taken pictures of my spouse and tapped them to the side of clear plastic baby bed. I had pictures of him all around the room in strategic locations where I could easily see them during labor. I had a set of his dog tags that I held during labor, and a Build-A-Bear with his voice recorded talking to our child. I loved having a way that my son could hear his Daddy's voice.
Both of the births I had without my spouse were very different. Yes, it sucks when your spouse can't be there with you, but there are ways to make the experience better.
Stars and Stripes Doulas is the only full service doula agency in the country focusing on supporting those who honorably serve our country. We are proud to support military families, law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMT’s, public servants, doctors, social workers, and many other professionals in Washington DC, Hampton Roads, New Orleans, and Fort Riley through our doula-client relationship and by employing doulas and working with partners aligned with the same backgrounds. With extensive personal and professional experience in the military and public service culture, Melissa and Melanie, as well as their doula teams, are committed to meeting your needs while respectfully collaborating with your birth team.