Pregnant and postpartum veterans have a lot to gain from the Maternity Care Program, offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Besides education on a variety of topics, home visits, and general support, the VA will cover breastfeeding clothing and supplies. Members of the program can work with their maternity care coordinator to order breastfeeding gear from Mother’s Haven. It’s a service we’ve been happy to provide for several years, and we’re thrilled to be able to help make the breastfeeding journey of our military moms a little easier.
Local maternity care coordinator Ann Guillory, based in Coeur d’Alene, is the women’s health clinical navigator for the VA covering a large area: west to Wenatchee, north to Sandpoint, and east to Libby, Montana.
Guillory said many women don’t know about the program.
“Women don’t identify as veterans as much” as men, she said — they identify that they served our country, but don’t always take on the title of veteran or actively seek the benefits available to them. “We have a lot of people who don’t realize there’s a program out there.”
Guillory has always worked in women’s health and with babies. The registered nurse worked in a NICU for many years, and also was part of the New Parent Support Program offered to Air Force families. That included working with new moms from pregnancy until their youngest was 3, visiting the families and providing knowledgeable support.
The VA’s program provides mothers with bimonthly calls to check in during pregnancy and for a time after their baby is born. Guillory teaches them about newborn care, integrating siblings and pets to the new baby, when to call the doctor, coping with Postpartum Depression, and breastfeeding. She can also order breast pumps, nursing bras and tank tops, and other supplies they need for nursing their little ones.
“We have very few people who aren’t willing to try breastfeeding,” she said, and while some aren’t successful, they get education and support to give them the best chance at success.
About 90 percent of pregnant veterans who know about the program take advantage of it, she said, but some just don’t know it’s offered. Contact your local VA office for more information, or Inland Northwest veterans can call Ann Guillory at (208) 665-1700 ext. 1785 to sign up for the program.
Credit for images used belongs to Breastfeeding In Combat Boots Facebook page. Thank you for your service!