A female British soldier deployed at an Afghanistan camp–which was recently attacked by the Taliban–gave birth to a baby boy this week at a field hospital after seeing a doctor for what she called “stomach pains”. The soldier apparently wasn’t aware she was pregnant.
Officials say they had no knowledge about the pregnancy beforehand, either, and made it clear in a statement that they do not make it a practice to deploy pregnant soldiers to operations. Britain’s defense ministry said the soldier has been removed from camp in order to recuperate safely, and added that this is the first instance of its kind in their history.
“Mother and baby are both in a stable condition in the hospital and are receiving the best possible care,” the ministry said in a statement.
The woman began her tour of duty in March, meaning she became pregnant beforehand, and some think that the excitement of the tour and stresses of recent weeks may have masked the symptoms, if she had any at all (some women don’t experience morning sickness or feel the baby’s movement).
Because a reported 200 women have been sent home from Afghanistan and Iraq in the past nine years due to discovering pregnancies while on tour, there has been a “growing pressure” for the military to mandate pregnancy tests before allowing women to go into battle. The Ministry of Defense, however, has so far balked at the idea.