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Expecting Support: TRICARE To Deliver Birth Doulas and Lactation Support For Military Moms
November 11, 2021
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Starting January 1st, 2022, the Department of Defense will offer a new program that delivers better support for military moms in the U.S. Under the program, Tricare will cover the services of a doula before, during and after delivery to every pregnant military mom in the U.S. – service members and spouses – up to 6 visits. As well as cover expanded lactation support for military moms – up to 6 sessions with a certified lactation consultant.
Doulas make a difference for every delivering mom — but especially for those who face one of life’s most challenging experiences on their own, separated by thousands of miles from family and friends, and often, from their deployed partners, too. That’s why WTEP has worked closely with Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to ensure that all pregnant active duty servicewomen and military spouses have access to the vital support offered by a birth doula. The TRICARE Coverage for Doula Support Act introduced by Senators Blumenthal and Gillibrand (and passed into law under the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization bill), will not only help military moms feel more supported, among many other benefits doulas have been shown to lower the risk of complications in a hospital birth. Investments in doula support will reduce costs and improve maternal and infant health.
The fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization bill includes a five-year pilot program to cover the services of a professional trained to provide physical and emotional support for female troops and military family members during childbirth. The program will evaluate the cost, quality of care and impact on new moms and babies of hiring a doula or lactation consultant or counselor.
Being a mom is always hard, but this has been an especially difficult year for moms everywhere, particularly for military moms. The challenges for military moms — the pressure they feel to be strong no matter what, the anxiety and depression they’re more likely to face, their need for more support before, during and after childbirth — are nothing new.
“Being a mom is always hard, but this has been an especially difficult year for moms everywhere, particularly for military moms. The challenges for military moms — the pressure they feel to be strong no matter what, the anxiety and depression they’re more likely to face, their need for more support before, during and after childbirth — are nothing new. But the unique struggles of moms who serve their country – and to be clear, all military moms serve, whether they’re active duty or spouses – have intensified exponentially during the pandemic, which has left them feeling more isolated than ever. I know this, because I’ve had the honor of meeting, speaking to, and hugging thousands of military moms around the world – they’ve become not only part of my life and my family, but my greatest source of inspiration.
That’s why I am so encouraged that this year’s National Defense Authorization Act has been passed into law. It’s welcome progress in supporting the families who sacrifice so much to protect our nation, offering doula and lactation support for military moms under TRICARE and studying prenatal and postpartum mental health conditions and access to care to better understand and serve the needs of members of our Armed Forces and their families. It’s time to support our military families in meaningful action, instead of empty platitudes. This is an important first step, and I’m grateful that Congress has taken it, thanks to the leadership of Senator Blumenthal, working collaboratively with Senator Gillibrand and Senator Kaine. Today is a great day, even in a tough year, for military moms.” – Heidi Murkoff, Founder, What To Expect Project; Author What to Expect When You’re Expecting
“Military moms, either service members themselves or the partners of those who serve, are at a higher risk of stress and isolation during their pregnancies, and they’re more likely to give birth alone — all factors that make doula access especially important,” Blumenthal said when introducing the legislation. Read More