Conflict & Justice

British soldier unexpectedly gives birth in Afghanistan


Soliders often leave pregnant wives at home. In this case, though, a soldier brought their pregnancy to accident.


John Moore

A British soldier deployed to Afghanistan gave birth unexpectedly after she began experiencing stomach pains. 

The unnamed solider, a Fijian national and gunner in the Royal Artillery, said she did not know she was pregnant until she was in labor, BBC News reported. She was deployed in March, which means the baby was conceived before her deployment. 

"It could be that she was so very focused on other things, and because she was in a life-or-death scenario, that she simply didn’t recognize that she was pregnant," speculated Belinda Phipps, chief executive of British parenting charity the National Childbirth Trust. "Not everyone has a very big baby bump, some women carry their baby far inside." 

The baby's delivery is considered to be the first ever birth in a combat zone field hospital in Britain’s military history, the Associated Press reported

A team of a specialist pediatrics from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford flew out to Camp Bastion, where the soldier was stationed, though a doctor reported that both the child—who was born five weeks premature—and mother were in stable condition, the Daily Telegraph reported

More from GlobalPost: Prince Harry of nude photo fame deployed to Afghanistan

Commanding officer of the hospital Lieutenant Colonel Andrea Lewis called the birth “a unique occurrence," adding that "my team is well rehearsed in the unexpected and they adapted brilliantly to this situation as a result." 

“I am pleased to report that mother and baby are doing well and we are all delighted at the outcome,” Col. Lewis added, NBC News reported

The Ministry of Defense's policy forbids pregnant service women are not allowed to be deployed on operations, the Telegraph reported. If a female soldier is found to be carrying a child, she is sent home as soon as possible to receive treatment.

As many as 200 service women who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have been sent home since 2003 after they found out they were pregnant, the Telegraph reported. 

Afghanistan's Camp Bastion is the base for the majority of Britain’s 9,500 soldiers, including Prince Harry, according to the AP. 

More from GlobalPost: Delhi Charter School policy forces pregnancy tests on female students