Top 8 Tips for Dealing with Pregnant Soldiers in the Army

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).

Final Thoughts

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.

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Top 8 Tips for Dealing with Pregnant Soldiers in the Army”

  1. This post addressed the issue of pregnant women in the army very well. They deserve to be treated with respect and compassion through their pregnancy.

    Being pregnant should definitely never be held against them.

    Having a baby changes people’s lives and perspectives, but an Army career is still important and a woman should get the full support she needs.

  2. Oh dear. I am old school and I firmly believe that when women enlist in the ARNG or the USARs, they should sign an agreement to NOT get pregnant during their service time. I also believe that laws and regulations should be changed such that if a woman does become pregnant, she is automatically discharged.

    Part of a soldier’s job is to function in dangerous situations, whether deployed or not. If you can’t do the job – for any reason – then you need to either be reassigned or discharged. If that includes a drop in pay, so be it.

    In the civilian world if you are a dockworker, you might lift 50 lb boxes all day. If you hurt your shoulder and it can’t be repaired so you can do that anymore, you are usually fired or moved to a desk job. I don’t think the Army should be any different than civilians in this aspect — if you can’t do the job, get a different one.

  3. Of course, having a pregnancy while serving in the military is not ideal – or even remotely close to it. But, like Chuck said, it’s a fact of life for most women. This doesn’t mean they’re any worse, irresponsible, and again, it’s THEIR life. So, it makes the most sense to help them through it – not berate them for it.

  4. Hi Chuck, thank you for posting this. So many people have the perception that pregnant women are weak. That drives me crazy. Granted, there are women who will bilk the system but a good soldier should have all the support she can get, especially from a knowledgeable and compassionate superior. It’s a shame that Jamie and others have to go through “them not knowing what to do with me.” It’s not like pregnancy is a new development or something!

  5. This was a great post that does need to be covered. I have heard soldiers complain about pregnant soldiers and it somewhat ticked me off. I wish that person would ask their own Mother what she had to do when she was pregnant with them. In these days and times, men and women need to work. I do agree that the pregnant woman needs to keep up with their duties, but compassion is a big key also. If all of us will realize we all came from a pregnant woman at one time, maybe we would think just a bit differently.

    1. That’s true, most people grow up and forget that they came from a pregnant woman! While I am not having kids of my own, I see my pregnant friends and have a lot of respect for what they go through. I also have a lot of respect for pregnant Soldiers who want to stay and work until they are unable to do so.

  6. Thank you for this! I became pregnant shortly after graduating OCS. No one knew what to do with me. I wasn’t given any options and had to read up on everything myself. I wanted to get out, but wasn’t given the option. EVERYTHING changes after you have a baby. I had HUGE hopes and dreams for my career up until the day I found out I was pregnant. I don’t want to deploy. I don’t want to leave him on weekends after I’ve already left him all week for my full time civilian job. The role of a father is completely different then the role of a mother. A father is supposed to lead and provide; a mother is supposed to nurture and love. How can you do that properly if you are called away? I don’t know how anyone can say that once you become a mother you don’t have to worry about being put in dangerous situations. Says who? I know of several military mothers who have been put in very dangerous situations. So now I am stuck, stuck in a position I no longer want. It is what it is and I will do my job to the best of my ability, but don’t ever doubt for one second that the choices I make put my son first.

    1. Jamie,

      Thanks for the comment.

      In many cases, you might be able to get discharged, if you want to pursue that route.

      I’m sure it’s possible.

      In either case, I appreciate your service.

      Chuck

    2. Has your Commander had a counseling session with you? It is very important that you do look at all of your options. Sometimes when stress comes, we get tunnel vision and do not realize there are many different options. I suggest you do some strong research and see what all you have available.

  7. Hi Chuck! While I am not one who is going to have children, I am still someone who loves children and considers them a blessing. I have had several Soldiers in my platoon get pregnant over the last couple years, and I am happy to say we retained ALL of them and they are a great asset that never shirked their duties.

    There’s a misconception among some Soldiers that if they get pregnant, getting out is the best option. While for some, this is true, for others, it isn’t. I think the mandatory counseling session given by the commander should include an honest chat about the Soldier’s goals. For some, it changes when they get pregnant and they may no longer be interested in staying in.

    1. It’s good to retain soldiers if they are good soldiers. Every soldier’s situation is different. It’s best to sit down with them, like you said, and have a heart to heart talk with them to see what their career goals are.

    2. I’ve never understood anyone thinking that getting out would be a good option, at least on the Active side. The Army will pay for all of your doctor visits, the birth, the post natal care, will arrange free classes, free counseling, free hospital tours, all of your prenatal checkups etc…

      Heck we had a nurse assigned to us who came to the house every month to check on her, provide her advice, education, reference material, and eventually became a good friend. These visits are STILL being provided, even though he’s 11 months tomorrow, all free. PLUS you’re still getting paid all throughout.

      There sin’t another job on the planet that treats pregnant women so well.. I think getting out is the worst possible thing you can do..

      1. That’s a good point, Michael.

        In the USAR and ARNG it’s a bit different, but I will agree that the Active Duty does a great job taking care of pregnant Soldiers.

        Thanks for the comment.

        Chuck

      2. Mike, I agree that the active Army takes great care in these instances. The Guard has it a little different, but there are still benefits to staying in. Also, you don’t have to worry about being put in dangerous situations both in training and deployment-wise, so I am not sure what the big hullabaloo is for some people that want to get out.

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