UK soldier unexpectedly gives birth in Afghanistan

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UK soldier unexpectedly gives birth in Afghanistan
By
DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Hours after a British soldier in Afghanistan told medics she was suffering from stomach pains, the Royal Artillery gunner unexpectedly gave birth to a boy — the first child ever born to a member of Britain's armed forces in combat.Britain's defense ministry said Thursday the soldier told authorities she had not been aware she was pregnant and only consulted doctors on the day that she went into labor.

The soldier, who arrived in Afghanistan in March, delivered the child Tuesday at Camp Bastion, the vast desert camp in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province where Prince Harry is deployed and a Taliban attack last week killed two U.S. Marines.

"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. It said a team of doctors would fly out to Afghanistan in the coming days to help the soldier and her son return safely to Britain.

The U.K. does not allow female soldiers to deploy on operation if they are pregnant. Although the soldier's child was conceived before her tour of duty began in March, she is not likely to face censure. Britain has sent female soldiers home from wars after they became pregnant — including about 60 from Afghanistan — but hasn't previously had a servicewoman go into labor in a war zone.

In 2009, the U.S. military in Iraq issued a policy that could punish soldiers who became pregnant there and their sexual partners — then quickly rescinded it after a storm of criticism.

The British soldier, a citizen of Fiji, is one of about 500 British military women serving in Afghanistan. She is also among around 2,000 Fijians who serve in the British military, even though the country became independent from Britain in 1970.

Camp Bastion, which hosts the U.S. Camp Leatherneck, is home to most of Britain's 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, including Prince Harry — who arrived there earlier this month to serve as an attack helicopter gunner. Last Friday, a Taliban assault on the base ended up with two U.S. marines killed and six American fighter jets destroyed.

Maj. Charles Heyman, a retired officer and author of "'The British Army Guide" said the unexpected birth would cause some concern at the base.

"This sort of thing makes life difficult for everyone else, but the important thing is the welfare of the female soldier. This could have gone wrong and we don't know if the attack on Camp Bastion might have forced the birth," said Maj. Charles Heyman, a retired officer and author of "'The British Army Guide."
Heyman said it may have been "that the excitement of the tour masked the symptoms of the pregnancy."

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, a British parenting charity, also suggested the soldier's demanding work could explain why she either didn't know she was pregnant, or had attempted to ignore the signs.

"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," Phipps said.

Phipps said the pregnancy may not have been obvious to the soldier's colleagues. "Not everyone has a very big baby bump, some women carry their baby far inside," she said.

Patrick O'Brien, a consultant obstetrician at University College London Hospital, said cases of unnoticed pregnancies were unusual, but that he encountered at least one each year.

"There are some women who have very irregular periods, often women who are very fit and exercise a lot. There are women who don't have sickness during pregnancy. Some women — particularly those who are overweight — don't recognize they have put on weight, or feel the baby moving," O'Brien said.

Many cases involved women who refused to accept that they were pregnant and attempted to disguise it, particularly young women living at home.

"It's not just that they hide the pregnancy from their parents, they often become in denial of the pregnancy," he said.

"If you have a combination of any or all of those things, a pregnancy can go undetected, or the woman can be in denial of it if the implications to their life are so great," said O'Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist.

A study published in 2011 by Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary said that denial of pregnancy was more common than expected, suggesting it occurred in around 1 in 2,500 births.

In a 2002 German survey of Berlin obstetric hospitals, researchers found that 40 percent of women who didn't realize they were pregnant had seen doctors who also failed to spot the signs.
 

Missie600

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I have had 3 children. I cannot imagine not knowing that I was pregnant. Sometimes it was like a wrestling match in my belly with large bulging parts pushing around in an uncomfortable way. I find this very odd and unbelievable. But I have heard the story many times.
 

skyraider

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My x brother n law is a OBGYN and that situation has come up from time to time thru the years and he says, if a woman cannot tell she is pregnant, she doesn't need to keep that child, in his humble opinon.
 

piattteam

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I have had 3 children. I cannot imagine not knowing that I was pregnant. Sometimes it was like a wrestling match in my belly with large bulging parts pushing around in an uncomfortable way. I find this very odd and unbelievable. But I have heard the story many times.

I get that same feeling after eating chili!!!!!
 

LDB

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Didn't know until she went into labor? I suppose she thought she had early menopause without the start/stop, hot flashes, etc. etc. and all the movement in her abdomen was due to indigestion or something. :confused: :rolleyes:
 

Turtle

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I have had 3 children. I cannot imagine not knowing that I was pregnant. Sometimes it was like a wrestling match in my belly with large bulging parts pushing around in an uncomfortable way. I find this very odd and unbelievable. But I have heard the story many times.
I've heard it, too, and I even know one woman who didn't know she was pregnant. But in her case, and all of the others, the women were rather on the fat side. Like, you know, fat, fat. So I have to wonder... just how fat was this UK soldier? LOL
 

layoutshooter

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Must have skipped sex ed and high school science some how. What is more scary is she carries a gun! :eek:
 

cheri1122

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I've heard it, too, and I even know one woman who didn't know she was pregnant. But in her case, and all of the others, the women were rather on the fat side. Like, you know, fat, fat. So I have to wonder... just how fat was this UK soldier? LOL

I know 2, and both were overweight, and taking birth control pills, [mistakenly assuming they are 100% effective], so being pregnant just didn't occur to them. Plus, not all babies are terribly active before birth, so it's really not so hard to imagine. A soldier, who is very fit, and very stressed, could easily 'misdiagnose' the symptoms, if she didn't 'look' pregnant, I bet.
LOS is right to be scared - if I were her & read those comments, I'd be pretty ticked off, myself.
 

cheri1122

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Correction: I only knew one woman - the second was one of those little bits of crazy that happen in a big city hospital, but it is a funny story.
I was out [from the trauma unit] for a late night smoke break, enjoying the peace & quiet, when a young man came out to make half a dozen phone calls. Except that the first one was to 'Mom", they all sounded the same:
1: apologize for calling so late at night.
2: announce that his wife has just given birth to a boy.
3: Deny [vigorously & repeatedly] being on drugs, drunk, or pranking them.
4: Tell them to call the hospital, if they didn't believe him, dammit! before hanging up.
Two of the calls, he gave his wife's room number, telling them to visit her the next day. After one, he redialed and barked "And bring flowers!" before hanging up again.
It was the longest smoke break I ever took, but the most interesting, too, lol.
O - I know the woman in question was on the pill and obese because she and her 'surprise' were on the news the next day, & both parents still looked like deer in the headlights.
 
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