Female service members face a different kind of battle than their male counterparts, especially when it comes to becoming a new parent. Each branch of the military has extensive policies in place to address pregnancy. Service guidance emphasizes prenatal care that is beneficial to the woman and the unborn child.
Still, what can female service members expect when they find out she's pregnant? Where should she start?
1. Work duties
Once you have let your command know of your pregnancy, you will need to work out your duties.
The servicewoman and her commander (and possible a third party) will schedule a plan that includes the service woman's duties, schedule and restrictions. If the service member has a normal pregnancy, she will most likely continue to work throughout her pregnancy. Accommodations can also be made to transfer or place the service woman in conditions that are healthy for mother and child, i.e., transferring out of any work assignment that contains chemicals or heavy lifting.
2. Maternity leave
The Department of Defense policy states that up to six weeks of maternity leave is authorized for active duty female service members after giving birth. Each branch has its own specific guidance on maternity leave.
When the regular uniform no longer fits, pregnant service members must wear certified maternity uniforms. At the discretion of the commander, substitutes for footwear may be authorized.
There are regulations for pregnant servicemembers to protect the fetus from risks while still allowing women to work as productively as possible throughout their pregnancy. Typically, pregnant servicewomen are sent back to home base if they are past a certain week in their pregnancy.
Active duty service women who are expecting must receive medical care at a military medical treatment facility if there is one located within 50 miles. If a military treatment facility is not available, she may be referred for maternity treatment at civilian medical facilities by her primary care manager.