send soldier home for birth

Rumor Mill: Being There for the Birth of a Baby

The Rumor Mill

Rumor: My husband will be sent home from deployment for the birth of our child. I heard they will for the first child but not for others.

What Actually Happens

Fact: Some units do, in fact, try to send soldiers home from deployment in time to witness the birth of their child (whether it is the first or fifth). My husband’s unit was one of these units. I don’t know a single father who missed the birth of his child while my husband served.

However, I also know that his unit is the exception to the rule and not the rule.

For most units, it is difficult to ensure that the soldier can return for the birth of a baby. While the unit will generally try to schedule R&R time to coincide with the baby’s birth, this is not always possible.

Even with the best of intentions, soldiers may not make it home in time to witness the birth.

Establish a Plan B

Because of this, many hospitals (particularly military hospitals) are beginning to make special accommodations for fathers to be able to witness the birth of their sons and daughters.

Through webcams and FaceTime, soldiers can witness the birth from thousands of miles away.

If your soldier cannot be present for the birth, check into these options so he can be as close as possible when your new little one makes his entrance into the world.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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  1. Stacey, I’m so glad that your unit was so family-oriented regarding births. Our unit is being very helpful, and has scheduled his R&R four days before my due date of our first child, and said that should the baby be born any earlier they’ll get him here as fast as they possibly can. So my husband will most likely be here for the birth. I am so excited!

    For those of you that have had babies during your husband’s R&R, how hard was the time afterward, after R&R has ended and you and baby are waiting for Daddy to come home? I know I will be busy with baby, but I still feel destroyed at the thought of holding his daughter and watching him leave again. Ugh.

  2. The truth is that a soldier’s unit can only do so much. Even if they try to send your soldier home there can be so many circumstances that prevent him from making it. Especially because the birth of a baby is unpredictable. My husband was in Iraq when I was pregnant with our first baby. His unit worked really hard to get him home in time. They all traded around R&R time until he got one that was closest to my due date. Unfourtinatly, when he got to Kuwait to board the plane to come home he ended up having to wait 4 days for another unit who got delayed. He missed the birth by 3 days just sitting around waiting! He should be able to be home with in a week at most, and most units try like hell to get him home asap.

    So much depends on your husband’s unit, the nature of his job, the circumstances happening at the time of his departure, and even his rank. The lower rank he is the more likely he is to make it quicker. The higher he is the more he should be putting his troop’s needs before his own. As a military wife you need to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Plan as if he will miss the birth. Make arrangements for another person to be your coach, take you to the hospital, stay with you after, etc. Also be planning what you and your husband can do to include him from overseas, maybe a webcam, or recording, at the vary least he should be able to be on the phone with you. Then after all the planning hope and pray like hell that he will make it!!

    Jessie, there are no words to describe the sadness you will feel holding your child in your arms as you watch your husband leave to go back to war . You will recover and it gets pretty easy once you do. But you should probably have someone come stay with you for a day or two. The sadness from your husband leaving and the hormones you will be experiencing can be a crazy combo!! Having help will free you to get some additional rest or time to yourself if you need it. This would not be the time to try to be super-military-wife!

    Everything will work out for you. Good luck to you, your new family! I will keep your husband in my prayers.

  3. I was born during desert storm in 1991 while my dad was in the marine corps in kuwait. My dad missed my birth and it was very hard on him and my mom. They military didn’t make exceptions for leave for the birth of a baby during that war but they noticed how hard it was for all the fathers, now they are better about understanding the importance of family life. During this war all the branches have been much more understanding and helpful to the two lives our men have to play. They really try to sent them home whenever possible but sometimes it just doesn’t happen but they are still included. I am engaged to a soldier now so I understand the lifestyles because I lived it my dad has been a marine for almost 31 years. I admire anyone who stands behind a military man and I wish everyone the best of luck in everything. God bless!

  4. Hi Stacey. My husband has been deployed to Afghanistan since August, and around then we found out were having a baby 🙂 Of course I would love for him to be here for his little boys birth or sometime around that. I’ve noticed thought that you say he can try and move around his R&R to as close to my due date as possible, but we didn’t do that. In fact his R&R was moved from Christmas to Thanksgiving to Halloween, so he has already taken it. Now, my question is whether it would still be possible for him to come home since he’s already taken his leave? Thank you!

    1. It is up to his command. Since he’s already had leave, I wouldn’t count on it unless there are complications of some sort. But he should inquire. Some units are letting their soldiers at least be there via webcam or Skype. Good luck!

    2. my boyfriend just got deployed, and we just found out we our having a baby, is it different since we are not married, to whether or not he can try to come home for the birth?

    3. Renee, It also depends on if this is your first child and how critical the mission and your husbands role to that mission is. You can bet if he is E-5 or above he most likely will not be coming home. The good thing is that you got to enjoy one last time together as just husband and wife before the baby comes. There is always an upside to everything. I miss that when when we found out I was pregnant my husband was already leaving as well. Then we never got to savor that last little bit of time we had as just husband and wife before the rest of our lives changed!

    4. When I was two months pregnant,my fiancé was deployed to Afghanistan. I only saw him again when our baby was three months old. We only got to spend two weeks together(R and R) and then he had to go back. I was without him throughout my pregnancy and the birth and even now. Our son is seven months old now, we hoping to see each other again in three weeks time…

  5. I am new to this whole thing and my husband has just enlisted. He leaves in Feb and with that we also just found out that im pregnant with our 4th child. He will be in Basic when im due and will not graduate until a week or two after. Will he get to come home for the birth or is he just going to have to wait till after graduation and before AIT?

    1. My boyfriend and i are having a baby, is it different since we are not married to whether or not he can home for the birth.

    2. DoD does not authorize paternity leave for children born out of wedlock. However he may be able to take other forms of leave, such as regular or R&R

  6. Just wanted to add some helpful information as an Army Wife who works in a civilian OB/GYN clinic where we see lots of military families. We have been asked multiple times to contact commanders & leaders even the Red Cross to bring fathers home for the birth of the baby. The only times we have ever had any luck with this is when the mother was very sick & needed assistance in caring for the baby after delivery, where the mother didnt have any family within 1000 miles to help her after a scheduled Ceserean delivery, or when the baby was diagnosed with some sort of deformity prior to delivery. Unfortunately, the most common thing we heard was that pregnancy/delivery was not an illness & not a special situation.

    Also, due to HIPAA privacy laws, a lot of hospitals in our area are not allowing webcams in the delivery room if the mother is in a joint room with another woman.

  7. my husband has just enlisted and we are about 4weeks into the pregnancy
    of our first child and i’m hoping that he will be able to ast least call often while ge is away at basic. I’m new to all of this can someone tell me how often they are allowed to call home or email, and how often will his pay comes because there is some talk of me having to be on bed rest for most of my pregnancy and that cares me because i’m really cared of being alone and going through this alone without my hubby.

  8. I work for an OB/GYN practice very close to JBLM. Many of the women request that we contact their husband’s unit or the Red Cross to ask for the spouse to come home for the birth. Unfortunately a lot of these women assume that because a “doctor” says its okay, that the Army will just change their policies. I’m sure we all know that is far from the case 🙂 In the three years I have worked here, we have only been able to pull strings to get one spouse home. The woman was having a cesarean section & had no living family members to help post partum, and even that took quite a bit of speaking with commanders and the like. Luckily, our hospital is very accommodating in allowing set up of laptops for “Skype births”. Just make sure you list it in your birth plan ladies!

  9. Hello,

    I am currently pregnant with twins (first pregnancy) and my husband left 2 weeks ago with the army to serve in camp casey, south korea. This is his first tour of duty as he just joined the army in february of this year. My expected due date is oct. 27th, does anyone know what the chances are of him being able to make it home for the birth?

  10. question.. dont know if anyone will know though, i know its mainly hit and miss everyone has a diffrent opinion but my husband is in BCT and his last week is the week of april 10th and i have a scheduled induction for my son to be born on april 20th…he will only be in AIT for one week at that time, he did OSUT the hospital is only about 20 minutes away from post including our home…will he be able to come home to see his son be born?

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