Deployments are hard for families with or without children, and they can become even more difficult when pregnancy is an added factor (no matter how excited you may be!). Ideally during pregnancy, families can spend most of their time together. However, that’s not the reality for many military families due to the demands of the military lifestyle. In addition, pregnancy comes with its own challenges – hormonal changes, financial stressors, and more. When deployment is added on top of the pregnancy, challenges can quickly pileup and be difficult to manage. We will share information about these challenges and provide resources to assist you with navigating them.
Effects of Deployment During Pregnancy
When the expectant parent, or their partner, is deployed, it can lead to a challenging pregnancy. Two common outcomes related to prenatal deployment (i.e., when a spouse is pregnant during deployment) are stress and depression. Listed below are a set of facts that provide information about the links between military service, pregnancy, stress, and depression.
Did you know:
- Active Duty pregnant Service members experience more stress compared to their civilian counterparts?
- Mothers with children already at home are likely to have increased stress during their current pregnancy?
- Throughout the pregnancy, mothers are likely to experience elevated stress when their partners are deployed compared to mothers whose partners are not deployed?
- Mothers are more likely of having a preterm delivery when their partners are deployed?
- Mothers are 3x more likely to experience postpartum depression when their partners are deployed compared to mothers whose partners are not deployed?
The information mentioned above may seem daunting; however, there are several ways you can reduce the likelihood of these outcomes from occurring. The suggestions below range from in-person to online options. The goal is to provide you with a range of options that will best fit your lifestyle. You can:
- Participate in classes or counseling services focused on stress and depression management,
- Participate in parenting educational support programs like the Family Foundations Program whose goal/mission is to assist families with transitioning to parenthood,
- Utilize specific resources targeted towards parents whose partners are deployed ,
- Explore and utilize the pregnancy-related resources offered through Military OneSource , a freely accessible website to Service members and their families, and
- Use social media to find a supportive network of people who may be experiencing, or have experienced, a similar situation. You can start your search on social media with terms like “prenatal deployment” and “military families.”
Each of these resources address a different challenge associated with pregnancy when an expectant parent or their partner are deployed. In addition to these resources, be sure to surround yourself with ample support from friends and family during your pregnancy, which can make a world of difference in the outcomes of your pregnancy!