20 Sep 2012

Woman soldier gives birth on front line

10:35 pm on 20 September 2012

A servicewoman stationed in Afghanistan has given birth to a baby boy, in what is believed to be the first case of a soldier from Britain having a baby on the front line.

The woman had not realised she was expecting; British soldiers cannot be deployed on operations if they are known to be pregnant.

While she is serving in the British Army, it is understood she is Fijian.

"Mother and baby are both in a stable condition," said the Ministry of Defence, following the birth on Tuesday in Camp Bastion, Helmand province.

The woman, a Royal Artillery gunner who has not been named by the MoD, only learned she was about to give birth after complaining of stomach pains, the BBC reports.

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The child was conceived before she arrived in Afghanistan in March.

In a statement, the MoD said: "It is not military policy to allow servicewomen to deploy on operations if they are pregnant. In this instance the MoD was unaware of her pregnancy."

A specialist paediatric team is to fly to Afghanistan in the next few days to care for the mother and baby on the flight home".

The baby was born five weeks prematurely.

The BBC's defence correspondent says it is the first time a British soldier has given birth on the front line, although up to 200 servicewomen have been sent home since 2003 from Iraq and Afghanistan when it was discovered they were pregnant.