Military moms have more than the transition of motherhood to adjust to. Often times than not, they have to adjust to motherhood while separated from their spouse due to deployments or TDY’s. Many do not live near their family or support system, which can make this transition very scary. In hopes of helping new military moms and learning a few pointers myself, I polled a group of military mothers to find out just what will help military moms-to-be most through this life-changing time.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for meals. We had a meal train the first two weeks and it was heaven. I was so tired. Staying nourished helped me feel loved and contributed to bouncing back.
Also, when friends ask to come over to help, say yes. I didn’t do this. I would feel poorly that my laundry was still sitting on the couch or I hadn’t showered in a couple of days so I would just say “thanks, I’m okay.” One friend just came and held the baby and I fell asleep on the couch. I didn’t even realize how tired I was until I woke up two hours later!
If you can, get outside daily. It doesn’t have to be far. Even a walk around the block helped establish a routine, helped with the education on how to open/close the stroller and car seat (need a degree for this! Lol) and helped with reconditioning.”
Heather-Mil Mom Adventures
“Don’t forget about yourself. Having a new baby is work and can be tiring, but ensure you are taking a little time for yourself. Watch your favorite show, take a stroll around the block, talk to a friend and yes, let them come over to hold the baby. Tell them you will be right back and go take a nice shower without feeling rushed.”
Sybil-Mamas and Coffee
“Take the offers for help, food, and a grown up to talk to- most especially when your spouse is deployed. After trying to be super mom, you don’t realize what a peaceful hot shower, getting your hair done, or having a real conversation can do for your soul!”
“I thought the “baby orders” and items with the unit crest on them were a little overkill, but I was wrong. As our family continues this military journey and our kids proudly wear the “Military Brat” stamp, I am so thankful we have these mementos to show them where their journey started. They say funny things like ” the horse blanket (1st Cav) is where I was born, so that’s mine. Your blanket has the genie lamps (Ft. Leavenworth).” So embrace all the military things you’ll probably get, lol. Secondly, take frequent naps when you can. The dishes, laundry, and all the things can wait. Don’t try to do it all. Let your body have rest and time to heal.”
“Find your people who will run to the store to pick up groceries/prescriptions/over the counter meds for you when your spouse is deployed and you or your kid is sick (also grocery delivery is worth every penny). You need those friends that will love your kid just like it’s theirs. The ones that have been there and can tell you it sucks. You need supportive friends that will take the baby from you for an hour so you can get a massage or take a long shower. It doesn’t matter if they have kids or not, but find those people and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. They’ll come through every, freaking, time.
I would also suggest the service member does a United through Reading recording (or two or three) for the baby either before they are born or after so that they can be present for story time even on long work days, trainings, or deployment.”
Jessica-United Through Reading
“It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and you’ll have a lot of feelings and emotions because of your hormones… it’s going to be just fine. It’s totally ok to feel that way. Be sure to talk to your Dr. and ask all the questions. It’s ok if you don’t breastfeed, and it’s ok if you do. It’s ok if you don’t baby wear, and it’s ok if you do. It will be difficult to remember in the moment, but the long nights don’t last forever, you are strong enough, and you will be a fantastic mom… If someone offers help, take it! Also, don’t read all of the books and the blogs cause you’ll just drive yourself crazy with the conflicting information. (And on a lighter note, don’t shop on your phone at 2 am because you’re for sure going to order lots of stuff you don’t need! Then, you will wonder why you ordered the Bathroom Baby Harness, or baby bangs – look it up on Amazon – so weird!)”
“After going through four deployments and having five children in the midst of those, I want to say that it’s really really difficult. But with God in your life, it’s not as painful. My biggest realization is how much prayer for my spouse makes me feel close to my spouse despite being 7,000 miles apart. There’s still a beautiful intimacy in a marriage when prayer is involved and having a personal relationship with God through those deployments made a world of a difference. He is so good.”
Elaine-Military Wife After God
“Take naps when the baby naps. You will feel the urge to clean, exercise or “do something productive” but you will be more productive if you have more rest. Note I said more rest, not well rested. It’s not usual for babies to wake up every couple of hours. Know that it is just a phase in life and things will change as your child gets older. Right now, focus on taking care of your baby and yourself. Sometimes the house will need to wait.”
Cherron-The Veteran Spouse
“I think this applies to all mom’s, whether it’s your 1st, 2nd, or 6th- if you feel like you’re struggling mentally (PPD, PPA, OCD, intrusive thoughts, etc) please seek help. Don’t suffer through something alone.
“Enjoy the quiet moments. Life isn’t going to be what you expect. In some ways it will be harder and in some ways it will be better. Enjoy the ride and try to find a great tribe of women to help you along the way.
Amanda-Airman to Mom
Also, totally unsolicited advice here for new mama’s, but if you can’t breastfeed, please don’t feel like you’re a terrible mom and formula is the devil’s juice. I was made to feel like an inadequate mother because I couldn’t breastfeed my oldest daughter due to medical reasons. Whether you choose to out of choice or medical necessity, however you feed your child is your choice alone and don’t ever feel bad for it!”
-Codi-Codi is Her Name
“Something that helped me get through my husband’s deployment with a new baby was attending MOPS and Stroller Strides. Being around other moms with young children is valuable because they can relate to the struggles! Many times it was way too much trouble to get dressed, get my baby dressed, and get out of the house. But it made a huge difference in my mental health.”
“If mommy is healthy, the baby is healthy. Whether it’s your physical health, mental health, or spiritual health that needs attention, make time for YOU. Also, you are your child’s best advocate so try to let other moms’ opinions matter less and communicate often with your spouse on what’s best for your growing baby and family. This season of womanhood and motherhood can be full of joy, new adventures, and challenges. Soak it all in, be vulnerable when you need to be, grateful during rough times, and courageous every day.”
Katherine-Rocky Roads and Rainbows
“Do not compare your birth or postpartum experience with someone else’s. It’s so easy for us to compare and fall into despair because we felt we “needed” more help, or didn’t keep it together as well as another spouse. Truth is, just because someone else has had it harder doesn’t mean what you’re experiencing isn’t hard. Your body might not bounce back as quickly as others, or you might struggle with breastfeeding more than a friend. None of it makes you inadequate. It doesn’t make you a bad mom or spouse. It makes you human. Speak truth to yourself when you find yourself comparing your experience with someone else.”
Cynthia-A Faithful Step
“Do not dismiss your emotions as the baby blues. Honor how you are feeling, even if it’s scary, means taking extra time away from a job, or skipping an opportunity. Personally, I had late onset or late escalating PPD triggered when I went back to a very stressful job AND was doing all the childcare AND doing the housework AND trying to get back in shape. I tried to do all the things and it backfired.
Bite off tasks and extras slowly and carefully. Don’t ever feel like you have to do XYZ because you saw another person do it # weeks post birth. Outsource what you can: cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc. Take time for you away from the baby when you can, even if it’s just a nap while a trusted friend hangs with your little one.”
“My husband deployed when our first-born son was 3 months old. It was helpful to volunteer to organize “hearts apart” events (this is an Air Force program for spouses and kids of the deployed). I also attended Moms Of Preschoolers (MOPS), a Bible Study, on a weekly basis and talked with friends a lot. I would also give myself grace to not do anything on overwhelming days which helped too.”
Dinah-Dinah Dziolek, LPC
“It’s great to have a plan, but then be open to what you need to do to keep your sanity and get through the trying moments. Keep in mind your hormones will be all over the place after baby is born. Many tears may be shed once you throw in the lack of sleep and navigating breastfeeding. You will have tears of happiness, elation, completely awestruck, pain, recovery discomforts, and challenges.
I definitely recommend investing in a high quality nursing tank like Bravado. I loved mine. It also gave fabulous support for my belly, which then supported my back. When you have a belly that was filled with a beautiful babe that has now joined you on the outside, extra support was much appreciated on my end. Some of the cheap ones rolled up over my belly and that was not doing my postpartum self-esteem any favors. After all you have gone through; you deserve a couple of high quality nursing tanks on your amazing body. I lived in them the first couple of weeks and beyond.”
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2019.