In an occurrence strikingly similar to reality television, a British soldier gave birth on the frontline in Afghanistan on Tuesday, though no one knew she was pregnant. The unexpected delivery came after the soldier went to medics complaining of stomach pain.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in London confirmed the pregnancy and birth in a statement, saying “Mother and baby are both in a stable condition in the hospital and are receiving the best possible care.” A spokesperson from MoD also confirmed that it was against policy to allow any servicewomen to be deployed if they are pregnant; however, in this case, the Ministry — and possibly even the soldier herself — was unaware of the pregnancy.
“This is a very unusual case,” a military source told the Daily Mail, who first reported on the story. “The mother deployed not realizing she was pregnant and had no idea she was pregnant until she gave birth. She has not done anything wrong.” The unnamed woman delivered her child at Camp Bastion, the main U.K. base in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province and the same camp where Prince Harry is currently stationed.
The unnamed woman, who serves as a gunner with the Royal Artillery, was only deployed with the 12 Mechanized Brigade in March, meaning the child was conceived before she was shipped out. Upon doctors explaining that she was going into labor, the Fijian native was taken to Camp Bastion’s field hospital — a medical facility that generally treats combat wounds. Hospital staff worked to deliver the baby boy, which was born five weeks prematurely, according to the Mail.
The mother will be taken off the frontlines to care for her child, with the MoD explaining that a “specialist pediatric retrieval team” from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford will escort woman back to the U.K.
Since 2003, nearly 200 British troops discovered they were pregnant and at least 70 servicewomen in Afghanistan were sent home from the frontlines after discovering they were pregnant. However, this is the first time that a child has been born in the field. “This is a unique occurrence, but my team is well-rehearsed in the unexpected and they adapted brilliantly to this situation,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrea Lewis, commanding officer of the field hospital, told the Daily Mail.