UK Soldier Unexpectedly Gives Birth in Afghanistan
LONDON - A British soldier has given 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.
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.
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.
The woman had deployed to Afghanistan in March, meaning her child was conceived before her tour of duty began.
Camp Bastion, which hosts the U.S. Camp Leatherneck, is home to the 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.
"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 soldier 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."