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What Happens if You Get Pregnant in the Military?
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What Happens if You Get Pregnant in the Military?

Women have had an official place in the military since the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of June 1948. However, pregnancy can make service for women a little tricky. What happens if you get pregnant in the military? What if you want to join up and find out you’re pregnant after the recruiting process? 

The military has specific rules and protocols designed to protect women who are or become pregnant in the military, and you can explore the basics of these below. 

What Happens if You Get Pregnant in the Military?

Historical context is key to understanding what happens if you get pregnant in the military.

When women were first allowed into the military, it was obvious that pregnancy was highly discouraged and grounds for immediate discharge from military service. Times have changed, however, and with them, the ideas surrounding getting pregnant in the military. 

President Truman, who signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, created the first military regulations regarding pregnancy in 1951. Disappointingly, it wasn’t until the 1970s that dismissing a pregnant woman for the sole fact that she was pregnant was considered unconstitutional. 

The 1970s were among the first years that pregnant military women could perform their duties to the country without having to worry about getting discharged for being pregnant. 

Can You Get Pregnant in the Military?

Yes! Each branch of the military has slightly different regulations regarding getting pregnant in the military, but you will not be discharged or reprimanded simply for becoming pregnant during service.

Army & National Guard

  • The person who has given birth is allowed 12 weeks of parental leave if they are on active duty. 
  • Active-duty service members who have been in service for a year or more are eligible for the Military Parental Leave Program, which applies to both parents, not just the birth parent.
  • Part-time service members will lose pay and retirement points during military maternity leave. 

Navy

  • Pregnant service members are permitted to be on-ship up to their 20th week of pregnancy.
  • Service members who have given birth will not deploy for service until one full year after their commanding officer (CO) learns that they’ve given birth.
  • The birth parent receives six weeks of parental leave after the birth of the child. This is called Maternity Convalescent Leave.
  • A secondary caregiver may receive two weeks of leave. 

AirForce & Space Force

  • The birth parent receives six weeks of Maternity Convalescent Leave and another six weeks of Primary Caregiver Leave. 
  • The secondary caregiver receives three weeks of leave. 
  • Pregnant service members are allowed to perform all duties so long as they are medically able.

Suggested read: U.S. Air Force Academy Acceptance Rate & How To Get in 

Marine Corps

  • The pregnant person must notify their CO within two weeks of pregnancy confirmation.
  • The birth parent receives six weeks of Maternity Convalescent Leave and another six weeks of Primary Caregiver Leave. 
  • A secondary caregiver may receive two weeks of leave. 
  • Duty training may be deferred for 42 days during pregnancy, and this can be extended if medically necessary. 

Can You Join the Military if You’re Pregnant?

Knowing what happens if you get pregnant in the military is a completely different scenario than if you know you’re pregnant before signing up. 

In short, almost all branches of the military will not let you join if they have confirmed you’re pregnant before basic or boot camp. However, the AirForce is the one exception to this. Both pregnant and postpartum women can join the AirForce and attend Professional Military Education (PME) as long as they’re able to pass a basic fitness test. 

If you’re attempting to join a different branch as a pregnant person, then you may not be able to. If it is confirmed that you’re pregnant after your initial enlistment and before boot camp, you will not be allowed to enter active duty service until the pregnancy is over. 

The Military Maternity Uniform

If you’ve ever had a pregnant military girlfriend, or a pregnant spouse in general, you know how hard it is for them to find comfortable, well-fitting maternity clothes. What happens if you get pregnant in the military and your uniform no longer fits? The military has a separate uniform created specifically with pregnant service members in mind.

Once a medical professional has confirmed your pregnancy, your CO will sign a memo authorizing the military to issue you a Military Maternity Uniform (MUU). 

These uniforms follow the style of most typical maternity clothes. The shirts are loose-fitting, long, and flared at the bottom to allow room for pregnancy growth. The pants include a stretchy, tall material meant to fit over the entire belly and keep it secure. 

You’re authorized to start wearing your MUU the moment your combat uniform no longer fits properly. 

If you’re a commissioned officer in the Army, you must purchase this uniform on your own. Otherwise, you can fill out a DA Form 3078 (Personal Clothing Request) to be supplied with your MUU. 

If you’re in the Navy, you can apply for a maternity allowance to cover the essentials of pregnant military uniforms. You are also permitted to wear the MUU in the Navy up to six months postpartum.

Enlistees in the Marine Corps also get a maternity uniform allowance, but officers do not. This is the same for members of the AirForce and Space Force. 

In the Coast Guard, a pregnant person can apply for an MUU after entering their second trimester by submitting a Form CG-5155A to the personnel office. As a Coast Guardsman, you can wear your uniform for a maximum of 60 days after returning from maternity leave.  

So what happens if you get pregnant in the military? You’re issued a special uniform, you get up to 12 weeks of maternity leave depending on your branch, and your secondary caregiver (often a partner) will receive time off, too. The military pregnancy rules may be complicated and not exactly perfect, but at the very least, they offer more than many corporations and businesses do! 

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