What I want to do in this post is share some of my thoughts and recommendations for dealing with pregnant Soldiers in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves. Most of this advice is geared for people supervising pregnant Soldiers, not the pregnant Soldiers themselves.
According to the Army’s website, 15.7 percent of all Soldiers are female. I do not have the statistics for the ARNG and USAR, but I think it would be safe to say that 10 to 20 percent of the force is female Soldiers. As I see it, women have a very important role in the Army.
As a part-time Army leader, you will lead female Soldiers at some point in your career. In addition, you will have to deal with pregnant Soldiers at some point in your career.
Let’s face it, most women have children. No, not every woman does, but most do. For most women, it’s part of life. Yet, when female Soldiers get pregnant while they are serving in the Army, it’s often held against them.
To be honest with you, I’ve never really understood this. I personally believe all Soldiers should be treated fairly, both male and females.
What I want to do below is share some tips for people SUPERVISING pregnant female Soldiers in the ARNG or USAR. These tips will help you be a better leader and make sure that you do the right thing. The tips are listed in no particular order.
# 1 Know the Regulations
First and foremost, you need to know the regulations concerning pregnant Soldiers. Do a quick internet search and find out what these regulations are. The regulations do change from time-to-time, so make sure you have the most current version.
You need to know what is required of you as a supervisor and what is required of the pregnant Soldier. After you read the regulations, I also suggest you get some input from senior NCOs and Officers. It might be worth talking to S1 too. I like to think that “knowing is half the battle.” Be an informed leader.
# 2 Don’t Hold it Against Them
This one should be common sense, but so many leaders mess this one up. Don’t treat your Soldier badly because they got pregnant. Whether they are married or not is irrelevant. After all, who are you to judge them? It’s their life, not yours. And you’re not God! Don’t act as if they are a slacker or bad Soldier just because they chose to bring a child into this world. Being pregnant is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it is a sign of strength.
# 3 Be Flexible and Work with Them
When a Soldier is pregnant, try to be flexible with her. Know upfront that they will not physically be 100%. Realize they might have some appointments and doctor’s visits during their pregnancy (things that non-pregnant Soldiers might not have to deal with). Do what you can to have a flexible schedule with them. Don’t let them abuse it, but give them the benefit of the doubt and try to work with them.
# 4 Make Sure They Get Maternity Uniforms
If the pregnant Soldier is enlisted, make sure the Supply Sergeant orders some maternity uniforms. If they are an officer, make sure the pregnant Officer orders her own uniforms.
# 5 Treat Them As You Would if They Were Your Own Daughter or Sister
This tip might come across the wrong way, so I want to clarify it. I’m not telling you to befriend your pregnant Soldier and be best buddies with her. What I am telling you to do is have some COMPASSION. What would you do if your own daughter or wife was pregnant? Would you be mean and hold it against them? I hope not. Just realize your Soldier is a person, too.
# 6 Do Your Counseling
When you find out your Solider is pregnant, sit down and do a counseling with her. Let her know what the regulations say they can and can’t do. Let them know what is expected of them. Let them know what resources are available to them. This will go a long ways to maintaining a healthy working relationship.
# 7 Family Care Plans
If the Soldier is a single parent or dual military, she will need a Family Care Plan. Talk with your chain of command and Company Commander to make sure it gets done.
# 8 Don’t Let Your Pregnant Soldier Completely Off the Hook
Make sure your pregnant Soldier does what is expected of her. Don’t let her make excuse after excuse about why her pregnancy keeps her from working or doing her job. Plenty of pregnant Soldiers have maintained their job throughout their pregnancy. The bottom line is to hold her accountable, even if you give her a little bit of slack from time-to-time.
Believe it or not, female Soldiers can still get discharged if their pregnancy keeps them from doing their job. If a Soldier’s performance warrants separation for unsatisfactory performance or misconduct, she may be involuntarily separated even though the Soldier is pregnant. This is also the case if her parenthood of any other children interferes with duty performance (source).
Here’s the bottom line folks. Women serve in the Army and many women will have children at some point in their life. It’s part of the circle of life. As a leader, you will deal with pregnant Soldiers from time-to-time. When this happens you need to be educated about what your responsibilities are as her leader, and know what is expected of her. It would be in your best interest to educate yourself about the Army’s policies concerning female Soldiers, and to follow the tips mentioned above.
What are your thoughts about pregnant female Soldiers in the Army? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.
*** Please keep in mind this advice is geared for ARNG and USAR leaders, not Active Duty Army personnel. Also, policies and regulations do change frequently, so make sure you use the most updated version of the regulation.