Get a group of Military spouses together and you will quickly find a common theme among many of them. No, it’s not the constant moves, job changes, or even marrying young. It will be that many of them gave birth to a child alone, while their spouse was deployed half a world away.
Those service members meeting their new babies for the first time at airports, parade fields, or welcome home ceremonies in hangars across the country was a very common occurrence within the last 5-10 years. Even today with the deployments being more spread out for units, it is still a very real possibility and concern for military families expecting a baby.
Stars and Stripes Doulas is aiming to make the routine of birthing alone while the spouse is deployed a thing of the past. As the first and only full service doula agency that is geared towards supporting military families and civil servants, they are changing the look of the military birthing community one base at a time.
Currently with four chapters open – Washington DC, Hampton Roads Virginia, New Orleans, and Kansas (Ft Riley), they have hopes to expand to every military base across the country. All of the Doulas are military spouses or veterans themselves, with several of them having the experience of delivering while their spouses have been deployed too.
Lead Doula of the Hampton Roads chapter, Megan Harless says that she wished she had a doula there with her during two of her deliveries when her husband was deployed each time. “I didn’t know it was a service I could have, I didn’t even know what a doula was at that time, but after going through it, no one should be in the position of not having someone there to support them.”
So what is a doula? A doula is a non-medical, professional, labor and postpartum support person. While they don’t do any of the cervical checks or monitoring you vitals as they leave that for the medical providers, they do offer support in many other ways. They’ll be there to help you find the answers to your questions, to offer physical support during labor, and emotional support when certain aspects of labor can be draining on you.
Even if your spouse is home during the birth, a doula can still be very beneficial. In no way do they ever replace the spouse. Often times the spouse isn’t sure how to support the mom, in which case the doula can teach and guide the spouse on how to helpful. Labor is often a gamble too. No one really knows exactly how long labor will be, so having an extra support person there that you can tag team with, or does all the little things you don’t think of (like refill the ice chips!) can also be very helpful!
Even after leaving the hospital, a doula can still be there for support at home. Stars and Stripes Doulas know how getting enough sleep can make a new mom feel like she can conquer the world! A Postpartum doula is able to come to your house during the day to help with siblings adjusting, help you find your routine, help with some light housework to make the house feel like it is running, support you on your new parenting decisions, or even be there at night to care for your baby while you get some sleep!
Written by: Megan Harless, Lead Doula for Stars and Stripes Doulas of Hampton Roads