FORT STEWART, Ga. - It's 2 a.m. and you are wakened by a sharp pain. You realize you are in labor, your husband is deployed and your two-year-old is peacefully sleeping down the hall. What do you do'

The 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Family Readiness Group held a Pregnancy Support Meeting opened to all expectant spouses in the 4th IBCT, Sept. 9. The purpose of the meeting was to help our pregnant spouses answer their questions. New Parent Support and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology sent representatives who provided support and information.

"We had a situation where a spouse called needing a ride home from the hospital in Savannah," said Tonya Imus, 3/7 Inf. Family Readiness Support Assistant. "She just had a baby and had nothing ready including the required car seat to bring the baby home. Her plan was her husband was going to be home from Iraq [for the birth], and she didn't anticipate premature labor."

For more than one third of the unit, this is the first deployment for the Soldiers and their spouses.

"Readiness is one of the fundamental tasks of the Army," said Maj. Ernesto Cardenas, MD, Chief, Dept. of OB/GYN. "However, Soldier readiness can, at times, overshadow Family readiness during deployments. We are helping patients utilize all available resources early on to decrease anxiety associated with having a baby while dad is deployed. It is my experience that formulating a Family care plan during contractions is never a good idea."

In addition to speaking to the ladies on readiness, Maj. Cardenas provided each one a five-page draft pregnancy plan, and the spouses provided suggestions to improve the document. The goal is to use the pregnancy plan at Winn Army Community Hospital to screen patients whose sponsors are deployed, and to help them plan for a safe delivery with or without their husbands present.

Major Cardenas is available to visit Family Readiness Groups. He can be reached at