Through her career as an NHS midwife and working with vulnerable women who have mental health conditions, army spouse Bridie Black feels passionate about offering support to military families during pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood. Here, she shares her top tips…
I’m posted during pregnancy
Inform the hospital that you’re currently booked at and register with a GP once you have a new address. Most maternity units have lots of information online and you can self-refer, which is the quickest way to transfer your care. Include any important information, make it clear how many weeks pregnant you are and that you’re transferring from a different hospital.
I’m struggling with the early stages of pregnancy
Try to get support from family and friends by staying in regular contact with them, even if it’s online, or having them stay with you if you can. Remember the early symptoms of pregnancy, which include sickness and tiredness, don’t usually last too long.
I don’t want to go to the scan alone
Ask a friend to come along, or a family member if they live close enough. Tell the sonographer that your partner is away and ensure you get lots of photos to share. I’m not sure who I can ask for support Tell your midwife about your situation; they’re probably used to looking after military spouses and can offer extra support. Always talk to your GP or midwife if you feel overwhelmed or you’re not coping. It’s better to seek support early than leave anything to develop into something long-term.
My partner may be away for the birth
Always make a back-up plan of who will be with you, it’s easier than trying to make last-minute plans. Family and friends won’t mind changing their plans if your partner makes it home in time.
My partner is going away soon after the birth
The postnatal period can be challenging particularly if you’re on your own. Use the time to be together on your own, as a family. Explain to family and friends that this is a special time and arrange for additional support once your partner has left. Try to space out this support and spend some time on your own to gain confidence because it’s likely to be a recurring part of bringing up your children. It’s hard at first but it does get easier!
How can I keep my partner involved?
Use technology to your advantage to give them updates on what’s happening. This can help them bond with your unborn/newborn and still feel they have a part in the whole experience. Being away during this time is tough on them too.
Bridie set up ‘Bump to Beyond your Birth’ when her husband deployed and she was left looking after her two-year old and a nine-day old baby. She now offers one-to-one antenatal classes, birth planning and postnatal support. Go to bumptobeyondyourbirth.co.uk