Being a milspouse can be challenging, and being a pregnant one is even more complicated. The expecting milspouse is often far from home, away from family and trusted friends. She has to be more self-sufficient, learn who she can trust to babysit her children, and figure out who she can call at 4 a.m. when her water breaks. This isn’t easy, so I suggest we band together and create a village!
Here are ways to support an expecting milspouse:
- Share your contact information. Specifically offer what you will do for her. It could range from errands, to babysitting, to dog walking, to driving her to the hospital in the middle of the night. Provide more than one way to reach you, and if you are willing to help her no matter the hour, let her know because that is huge!
- Offer to babysit her children. If she has other kids, offer to care for them when she goes into labor, (this includes overnight if you are able), and after the baby has arrived so that she can nap or spend time bonding with her newborn.
- Share baby items you no longer need. If you are holding onto a baby carrier, stroller, pack n’ play or clothes in good condition, consider sharing them. Baby items are expensive and freebies are awesome!
- Host a baby shower. You can throw a face-to-face shower with punch, cake and a few games. Check out Pinterest for inspiration. Alternatively, you can host a virtual shower. She’ll create an online gift registry that you send to friends and family on her behalf.
- Make her feel special. Before the baby, go with her for a mani/pedi, curl/flat iron her hair for her, or watch a chick flick. These little luxuries will be hard to come by once a newborn enters the scene.
- Connect her with others. If she is a first-time mom or new to post, introduce her to other moms and share your favorite online parent support groups.
- Arrange for food. Cook a meal for her and set up a free meal train. Consider doubling a recipe, use your slow cooker and deliver food in dishes that don’t need to be returned. Following the birth of a child, having hot food delivered to your door is golden!
- When you head to the Commissary or PX, ask if she needs anything. You never know what she may have forgotten and getting to the store while mega pregnant or after birth is a daunting task. This little gesture can go a long way.
- Bring treats she hasn’t enjoyed in a while. After the baby, she may be ready for things she has missed. This can include a nice glass of wine, a bottle of beer, her favorite spicy food, or a hot cup of caffeinated coffee…with an extra espresso shot.
- Clean for her. Offer to wash the dishes in her sink, take out the trash, wipe down her counters or vacuum her floors. She may refuse or she may willingly accept and love you forever!
- Tell her about WIC. She may not be familiar with the government program WIC (Women, Infants and Children), but many military families qualify. It supports postpartum women and children up to the age of five by providing supplemental foods, health education and more.
- Support her in breastfeeding. If she chooses to breastfeed, you can support her in a variety of ways. The first couple weeks can be challenging, and a support network is valuable. Bring her water or a snack while nursing, hold the baby while she showers or naps, and offer words of encouragement and praise. If she is struggling, encourage her to connect with a Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC).
- Be attentive. A baby brings forth significant changes, emotions, hormones, and sleep deprivation. Listen to her, don’t judge, and be supportive. She may need to talk, vent or cry, but do pay attention if she seems to be struggling with post-partum depression.
- Be there. Let her know that if she ever needs a break to sleep/nap/shower/cry/stare at the wall/pee alone, that you are happy to sit with the baby while she takes that time for herself. One of the best things you can do is not wait for her to ask, but just proactively offer.
- Let her thank you. She may not be able to return the favor, or even thank you immediately, but let her demonstrate gratitude if she decides to do so. Milspouses are strong and proud, and if she wants to thank you in her own way, let her — you’ll both feel good in the end.
A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.
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