A British soldier who was complaining of stomach pains gave birth to a son while serving in Afghanistan at the same camp where Prince Harry is deployed and a Taliban attack last week killed two U.S. Marines.
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 birth in a combat zone field hospital is thought to be the first ever case of its type for Britain’s military.
The Fijian national, a gunner with the Royal Artillery, delivered the child Tuesday at Camp Bastion, the major British base in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, which last week suffered a major attack in which two U.S. marines were killed and six American fighter jets destroyed. She is one of about 500 British military women serving in Afghanistan, and also among around 2,000 Fijians who serve in the British military, even though the country became independent from Britain in 1970.
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Britain’s defense ministry said Thursday that it had not been aware the soldier was pregnant, and stressed that it does not allow female soldiers to deploy on operation if they are pregnant. It declined to say whether the soldier, who has not been named, was aware of her pregnancy.
“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 solider and her son return safely to Britain.
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.