British Soldier Unexpectedly Gives Birth While Deployed in Afghanistan

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Bronwen Roberts / AFP / Getty Images

In this photograph from October 2007, Colonel Ian Goulbourne, head of the British Army Field Hospital at Camp Bastion, stands at the entrance of the hospital which is the best medical facility in southern Afghanistan.

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.

(PHOTOS: Afghanistan Now, Photographs by Yuri Kozyrev)

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.

PHOTOS: Alixandra Fazzina Photographs the Flight of the ‘Flowers of Afghanistan’

15 comments
Talendria
Talendria

Was the baby born with post traumatic stress disorder?  If you can hear voices in the womb, I'm guessing you can hear artillery fire also.

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

No doubt some sort of sin against Allah. Get ready for a little mob action. 

Mary Waterton
Mary Waterton

The story is important because it illustrates why women in combat is a bad idea.

Kat_Martinez
Kat_Martinez

Wow! That's what you got from this story?! That is offensive on many levels, but as a marine that has been deployed, I will tell you yes someone messed up here but it is not a reason to not have women in a combat zone. Maybe you should learn to keep your opinions to yourself. 

George Williams
George Williams

 Gl with that, lot of civvies look at females as just split tails or there for supply etc. I disagree but I heard it a lot while I was in, directed towards female coworkers.

Marcela Perez
Marcela Perez

This is an example of a bad generalization. This woman was

obviously in a high stress situation and not very in touch with her body, but

there's no indication she did anything else other than perform her job in a

satisfactory manner all the way until she gave birth. You wouldn’t want to

participate in combat (I’m assuming you are a woman from the name “Mary”), that’s

fine. But it’s not your right to take this option away from somebody who wants

to do this. This is obviously a very tough woman that was able to perform her

job all the way until she was ready to deliver her baby. If you ask me, that’s

a tough woman indeed! More than capable to be in combat. She didn’t put anybody

in danger. Furthermore, this is the only time this incident has ever happened

in the history of millions of women serving in the British military - so you

want to preclude other women from serving because one in I don’t know how many

million might possibly not know she’s pregnant and give birth? Really?  

Brandon Saunders
Brandon Saunders

This is a ridiculous news story because it isn't remotely newsworthy. There are measures in place to prevent pregnancy in a combat situation. For example, the U.S. Marine Corps has doctrine which prohibits service members from engaging in sexual activity in bachelor enlisted/officer quarters, temporary billeting and in field environments. Understandably, the rules aren't always followed when you have young men and women with raging hormones and free time. Mix in alcohol into that equation and the results often tend to be a crockpot of unplanned pregnancies, alleged sexual misconduct, or just an overall good time.

Where I find this story to be absolutely absurd is that each and every service member, regardless of branch of service, gender, etc, is required to be medically screened before being deemed to be fit for combat. If the young lady truly had no knowledge of her own pregnancy, then the fault can be placed on the medical professionals who screened her, or failed to do so, prior to her deployment into a combat zone. Furthermore, once in a combat zone, it's not an everyday reenactment of 'Saving Private Ryan' for seven months to a year. There are periods of time when service members are required to frequent medical facilities at Garrison locations.

This was a complete failure in leadership from the top down. As an active duty U.S. Marine, a pregnant woman is not capable of deploying and I would not have her anywhere near my operating forces when 'down range.' How this became a news story (TIME, no less) is beyond me. It's happened in the past and will continue to happen, but there's nothing extraordinary about a girl playing dumb or medical neglect.

FAIL.

George Williams
George Williams

 You should know as a jarhead, just how often those rules and drinking age are broken. As for the female in question, there are occurrences where the female doesn't have signs or knowledge that she is pregnant, it does happen, it's just a rarity.

Rydangel
Rydangel

i don't understand how you can't know you are pregnant for 7 and a half months. her period should have stopped and she should have gained at least 25lbs. britian's good to send baby doctors to come get her and release her from active duty. the usa would have told her to give the baby to her family or put the child in foster care until she finishes her service commitment. of course i don't understand how active duty soldiers in a war zone can get pregnant either. i thought they were required to be on birth control if they were serving on the frontline.

Ann
Ann

It doesn't always stop, especially in the beginning. And it is not uncommon for it to stop when under stress/change in routine.  And maybe she didn't gain weight, not everyone gains that much weight.  Furthermore, if you read the article, she was pregnant before she got there, and where do you get the idea she'd have to put a baby in foster care if she was in the USA? 

Randy Hayes
Randy Hayes

u say she was so focused.i say she's an idiot.it's not like pregnancy sneaks up on u.

Heterotic
Heterotic

 Upon doctors explaining that she was going into labor, the Fijian native was taken to Camp Bastion’s field hospital-

Heterotic
Heterotic

Does she get free Najib's for life now?