The health – mental and physical – of loved ones is arguably our biggest priority and as army families, it’s reassuring to know there are lots of healthcare professionals looking after us, specific initiatives to help us, and work going on behind the scenes to ensure we get fair access to services. AFF’s health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, highlights some of the projects aimed at military families…

Baby plans abroad

Not all overseas locations can offer equivalent maternity care to that provided in the UK, so it’s wise to check the location you’re being posted to for more detailed information if you’re planning to have a baby.

Kenya, for example, has recently changed its confinement policy and all pregnant women are to be returned to the UK no later than 24 weeks into their pregnancy – this may be even earlier for higher risk pregnancies. You and your new baby are then reviewed at the four-month postnatal stage before you’re allowed to return.

Other countries will also have different policies. If you’re unsure, do contact us at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

Made for mums

Midwife, mum of three and military wife Katy McGarry knows only too well the challenges that can be faced in pregnancy and in the new stages of motherhood.

She offers support, guidance and empowerment for pregnancy, birth and beyond with her Mumborneveryminute courses in Tidworth, Ludgershall and online.

There’s free information every day on Katy’s Instagram feed @mumborneveryminute, and she also runs bumps and brunch every month. It’s a wonderful way to meet other women that are at a similar stage of pregnancy or in the first throes of being a new mum. Details change monthly, so check Facebook for details facebook.com/mumborneveryminute

Good for the mind

If you’re living in South Yorkshire you can access free, confidential counselling from a qualified therapist through Sheffield Mind’s Keeping Families in Mind (KFiM) initiative.

KFiM is available to all armed forces families over the age of 18, no matter where your soldier is serving. You can have a home visit or pop along to meetings in local community venues or at their office in Sheffield.

They also run monthly support groups across South Yorkshire and other one-off events. For more information, visit sheffieldmind.co.uk 

Hidden wounds

Tap into Help for Heroes’ Hidden Wounds service if you’re a family member, or a veteran, who is living with anxiety, depression, anger or wishing to change your drinking habits. For more information visit helpforheroes.org.uk

Wow factor

The Wellbeing of Women (WoW) study is investigating how having a partner in the armed forces affects the health and wellbeing of women during pregnancy and following birth.

It can be a tricky time, particularly when your soldier is away or you have to move home. The information gathered during the study, which is being run by the King’s Centre for Military Mental Health, could then be used by organisations such as the NHS, MOD, and service charities to help improve support.

Look out for updates at aff.org.uk and follow @wow_study

DMWS in action at Manchester Royal Infirmary. Photograph by Ben Stevens

By your side

Any hospital treatment or healthcare intervention, whether planned or unplanned, can be stressful and can bring on feelings of isolation and worry, which may hamper recovery.

That’s where the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) can help. Its welfare officers provide support to sick or injured frontline staff including service families, reservists and veterans, to ensure that no family goes through times of crisis alone.

DMWS’s free service includes bedside visits and telephone support, help with resolving any medical care issues, practical help such as providing essential personal items, emotional support for your family and much more.

Whether you’re in the UK or overseas, you can get in touch with DMWS on 0800 999 3697.

Making healthy choices

Check out the British Army’s recently refreshed Healthy Soldier Cookbook, which offers more than 40 recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as smoothies. Free to

download via army.mod.uk, it features family-friendly recipes packed full of fruit, vegetables and protein that are balanced with fat, carbohydrate, sugar and salt.

24/7 support

Need to talk? Anyone connected to the armed forces can tap into Big White Wall – an anonymous community who help and support each other through challenging periods in their lives.

No matter what time of day or night, you can share thoughts and feelings, ask questions, take self-assessments and find self-guided support in a safe space.

Trained clinicians, called wall guides, monitor the environment to ensure compliance and risk management. Head to bigwhitewall.com for more.

 

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