Dads, Deployments & Birth

by Laura Barbour CD(DONA), Postpartum Doula, CLEC Japan Birth Resource Network The Birth Education Center of Okinawa
Stripes Okinawa
Knowing your partner will miss your baby’s birth is a reality for military families. Here in Okinawa, deployments and mandatory trainings happen on a regular basis and many times mom is forced to prepare for childbirth without her partner.  
During the birth of her second child, Jocelyn knew it was a reality that her husband was going to be leaving for a deployment right before the birth of their daughter. “I truly never thought I’d have to give birth while my husband was deployed. He left just a few weeks shy of her birth. When I went into active labor, I drove myself to the hospital. The staff thought I was crazy walking in by myself with my rollie bag. They didn’t believe that I was in labor because I was in a very calm state. I knew I had to do this without my rock, my partner, my husband by my side. I’m so grateful that my doula was with me during the toughest part of labor. Her presence made me feel not so alone. My husband finally met our daughter for the first time when she was 6 months old. My baby girl will be one in just a few days. Giving birth while my husband was deployed is just another story to tell as our military adventures continue. There are no regrets, no resentment. There is just a beautiful and healthy baby girl that makes our family complete with love.”
After the baby’s born, it’s important to have a support system in place to assist mom with meals, getting adequate rest, and just allowing her to rest and get to know her new baby. Many commands and offices offer a ‘meal train’ to keep mom fed and a postpartum doula could assist mom is getting some rest or to offer a listening ear.       
How can a dad stay involved in the pregnancy if he’s gone? Here are 10 ideas:
1. Sign dad up for weekly pregnancy updates. There are apps or websites that give a thorough weekly run down on the baby’s growth, development and what you changes you can expect to see. 
2. Send pictures. Wear the same shirt in a picture each week so he can see how your belly changes. Have someone film your baby shower or send videos of your belly moving from baby’s kicks. 
3. Learn about pregnancy. Have dad read books to learn about pregnancy so he can be able to talk pregnancy and assist in writing the birth plan.
4. Record baby’s heartbeat or the ultrasounds. What dad wouldn’t want to see photos or videos of his precious baby? With today’s technology, there are so many ways to send photos of baby during pregnancy.
5. Hire a doula together or choose a support person. Hiring a doula gives the peace of mind of having a woman present experienced in childbirth and able to support mom throughout pregnancy, labor and even into the postpartum period. Or if a doula isn’t your thing, choose a support person to be mom’s birth partner.
6. Involve dad in ‘big baby purchases’. Send dad a few options to choose a theme for baby’s room, a stroller, etc.
7. Have a ‘daddy doll’ made with dad’s picture. These daddy dolls (pillows) make great first photo props to include dad and are a sweet gift for baby.
8.  Have dad sleep with a few of the baby blankets. Before dad leaves have him sleep with baby blankets and seal them in a zipped bag. After the baby’s born, the baby can sleep with the blanket and get used to dad’s scent.
9. Record dad’s voice. Get dad reading stories, singing songs, or just talking to baby. Have baby hear dad’s voice as much as possible.
10.Get dad on the phone if possible. Make it a priority to include dad via an iPad, Skype, etc so he can support mom and see his baby born.
Nothing can take the place of having your partner present at birth, but good communication is key in making the best of the situation and remaining connected with your spouse. 
Japan Birth Resource Network has implemented a program, Helping Hands Funding Program, which will award grant money (from $50-$350) to families with special delivery or postpartum situations to assist in hiring a JBRN birth or postpartum doula. The application deadline is June 1. To learn more visit:
Connect with local Okinawa moms on Facebook in “Pregnancy & Birth Talk Okinawa”
Japan Birth Resource Network provides evidence based information and mother friendly support throughout Okinawa and Japan. To learn more visit:
Birth Education Center of Okinawa’s Schedule for May:
Friday, May 6
- Infant Massage
Saturday, May 14
- Cranial Sacral Therapy
Sunday, May 29
- Hypnobirthing 5 weeks series begins
Monday, May 30
- Breastfeeding Basics
The BEC offers a Weekly Wednesday Weigh In every week for breastfeeding mothers & baby, IBCLC consultations, Hypnobirthing, Infant Massage, and more.

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