Support through family advocacy

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cheyenne Lewis
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The process of becoming a new parent can be one of the most difficult transitions in someone’s life. Navigating the stress and requirements of this new role while also keeping another human alive may be challenging.

The Department of Defense has a resource designed specifically to assist parents through this change within the New Parent Support Program. The program, monitored at the installation level by the Family Advocacy program manager, is comprised of nurses, social workers and home visitation specialists with and provides individualized support for expecting parents.

“Being pregnant and raising a child under the age of three is challenging in and of itself,” said Leslie Kimzey, 325th Medical Group NPSP nurse. “Then you add being in the military into that and not having the physical support of your friends and family, it’s a challenging time.”

Some of the resources provided are prenatal and postnatal visits, information on child development, parenting education classes, marital counseling and classes focused on infant care. NPSP can also refer members off base to various community resources.

“We’re finding resources to support you,” added Kimzey. “We’re supporting you because you’re serving us. We want to fill that gap and make you feel supported.”

Resources are available to service members who are expecting a child or already have a child under the age of three. The program is completely voluntary and is designed to be one-on-one, typically based on home visits to make parents more comfortable.

“Leslie was able to do some home visits starting at the beginning of our pregnancy,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Mitchell Reed, Navy Experimental Diving Unit research physiologist. “She would come over and walk us through every little item we should be expecting through the pregnancy, answered any questions we had as well as spending a lot of time with us to ease our worries and anxieties.”

Another resource NPSP offers is lactation support and education. For new moms who choose to breastfeed, Kimzey understands starting doesn’t always come as naturally as some would hope.

“I really enjoy working with [lactating] moms,” continued Kimzey. “There’s something about watching a mom go from struggling with breastfeeding to that look on her face when the baby latches and she becomes confident in herself.”

Breastfeeding and other new parent responsibilities can come with a transition period. NPSP understands discussing additional needs and limitations as a parent may not be easy. For this reason, they offer counseling on potential postpartum depression or anxiety and adjustments with returning to work.

“We see a lot of patients with workplace stressors,” continued Kimzey. “Members come asking for advice on how to talk to their command if they feel excessive pressure to juggle being a parent, a spouse and employee at the same time.”

Kimzey has 16 years of experience working in NPSP and similar programs. This has given her a lot of knowledge on local resources and which to recommend.

“Leslie knew what resources were available and weren’t available in Panama City,” added Reed. “Her recommendations were always spot on.”

Getting assistance from NPSP is fairly straightforward. After an active duty service member or spouse is confirmed pregnant, the 325th MDG or TRICARE notifies the NPSP. Kimzey then reaches out to coordinate support the parents may need. Members who already have a child can request these resources at a medical appointment with their primary care manager or by calling the Family Advocacy Program.