TRICARE Doula Coverage Bill Proposed

TRICARE Doula Coverage

A bill calling for the Secretary of Defense to provide additional resources, including the services of doulas, for pregnant beneficiaries in the Tricare program, was introduced in Congress this May. The sponsors for this bill, Senators Kiersten Gillibrand (New York) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) propose that the additional support would actually help to cut heath care costs by improving maternal health.

What Is a Doula?

Doulas are professionally trained in childbirth to provide physical, educational, and emotional support to mothers in pregnancy, during labor, and postpartum. Their specific services vary greatly, however, because they are shaped according to the individual needs of the mother or couple they work with.There are different types of doulas, but their primary purpose is the same—doing whatever you need, within reason, to help you be the parent you want to be.

Common Doula Services at Different Stages of Pregnancy

Birth Doulas

  • Meet with the expectant mother, and her partner if applicable, spending time to get to know them and their birth preferences, what they hope for and expect.
  • Are available to answer questions or concerns as they come up leading up to the birth.
  • Go on call to be available 24/7 near to the due date to promptly arrive where the birth will take place, either at home or in hospital.
  • Offer help in breathing practices and relaxation techniques.
  • Encourage the partner, when applicable, to participate in the birth, guiding them on how to do so.

Postnatal Doulas

  • Provide emotional support for mothers and couples as they adjust to the new addition to the family and all the changes that brings.
  • Answer questions and concerns about anything that impacts the infant and its place in the family, like when should the parent(s) return to work, breastfeeding difficulties, sleep issues, etc.

Why Should Military Moms Have Access to Doulas Covered?

  • While all families need extra emotional support through pregnancy and childbirth, military spouses and enlisted mothers are at higher risk of stress and isolation during this exciting time.
  • Frequent moves means continuously building communities from scratch, so often times support in the form of family and friends in a daily capacity is low or non-existent.
  • Deployments and other mission requirements which cause spousal separation during pregnancy may take away the expectant mother’s only support.
  • Expectant mothers/families may PCS during a pregnancy, disrupting their consistency of care.
  • If delivering on base, the medical staff in the hospital may PCS or deploy themselves over the course of a patient’s pregnancy.

These possible, even probable, inconsistencies of support and care could be eased by having access to a doula.

Operation Special Delivery

Operation Special Delivery is a national non-profit organization founded after 9/11 initially to support expecting mothers whose spouses were deployed, injured, or who had died in the line of duty. They have built a network of professional doulas who offer their services to qualifying military families for a set fee of $500.

Qualifications:

  • Military personnel ranked E-7 and below, including Active Duty, Reserve, and Veterans
  • ALL deployed military personnel, regardless of rank

You can find a participating doula in your area by submitting your information on the Operation Special Delivery website.

 

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About the author

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Marissa Fuller is a freelance writer and editor with a degree in Creative Writing and Classical Civilizations from the University of Arizona. She can be found translating Shakespeare into Ancient Greek in the English countryside, where she is currently stationed with her Airman and their faithful hound.