Associating the VA with pregnancy may be hard to fathom for many veterans, yet the department is doing its best to let women veterans know it is able and ready to care for you before, during, and after your pregnancy.
As we approach Mother’s Day, the VA wants veterans who are mothers or mothers-to-be to know that it is ready to serve you. Unlike a few years ago, VA now offers a range of services for veterans enrolled in VA health care throughout delivery, including postpartum care for you and the initial care of your newborn. Maternity care is covered and coordinated by the VA whether care is delivered in VA medical facilities or through a provider in the community.
Some of the below programs were enhanced by the Protecting Moms Who Served Act, bipartisan legislation backed by MOAA and other veteran service organizations which took effect in 2021. It’s one of an ever-growing series of major legislative accomplishments by MOAA on behalf of those who serve and have served.
From initial consultation with your provider to your positive pregnancy test, the VA covers:
- Regular prenatal care, including ultrasounds
- Full physical exams and lab tests
- Prenatal education and screening
- Obstetrical ultrasounds
- Genetic tests and specialty consults
- Prescription drugs and prenatal vitamins
- Lactation support
- Support and services in case of miscarriage or stillbirth
- Social work and mental health services
- Supplies and equipment needed during pregnancy and postpartum
Veterans are encouraged to discuss pregnancy plans with their health care provider to ensure the best care possible. Your provider can assess your current medications and health risks, address concerns, and set you on a course of action to stay healthy.
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Maternity Care Coordinators
Pregnancy can be a happy time, but it also can bring great uncertainty as you try to coordinate appointments and manage your care alongside other life priorities. Each VA medical facility has a Maternity Care Coordinator to help you throughout your pregnancy — your personal advocate to help you with your care whether in a VA medical facility or in the community.
Your coordinator will help you navigate health care services; help you access care to meet your physical, mental health, and specialty care needs; connect you to resources and information; and help address billing or health care coverage questions.
Reproductive Mental Health
Pregnancy can be a particularly challenging time for veterans to take care of their own mental health while experiencing all the feelings and pressures of having a baby and challenges of life after delivery. The VA wants you to know it has clinicians specialized in providing reproductive mental health care to help you during and after delivery.
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Background: Protecting Moms Who Served
In 2021, MOAA worked with other veteran service organizations to codify coordination of maternity care at the VA. Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), along with Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill), led the bipartisan effort to get the Protecting Moms Who Served Act signed into law.
At the time, there was a growing concern about the unacceptable rates of preventable maternal mortality in the U.S., particularly among women of color and at-risk veterans. The legislation invested $15 million in maternity care coordination at VA medical facilities and commissioned an independent study to look at racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes and make recommendations to reduce adverse outcomes among veterans using the VA, employer or private insurance, TRICARE, or Medicaid, or those who are uninsured.
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Of the nation’s 1.7 million women veterans, more than half a million are under age 40 – and 43% of women veterans using VA health care are of childbearing age. Just three years before the Protecting Moms Who Served Act became law, Duckworth, a combat-wounded double amputee veteran of the reserve forces for 23 years, made history as the first woman to have a baby while a member of the Senate.
Learn More About VA Maternity Care
The VA wants to hear from you and exceed your expectations:
- If you are not yet enrolled in VA health care, you can get started by checking your eligibility here.
- If you don’t know where to start or need help, call or text the Women Veterans Call Center at 855-VA-WOMEN — representative can answer your questions about eligibility and available services, and they can connect you with local health care resources.
- Expecting parents can also check out VA’s maternity care website or maternity care brochure.
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