LONDON – 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 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.