British soldier unexpectedly gives birth at Afghan base
Published Thursday, September 20, 2012 7:10AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:40AM EDT
A British soldier serving on the front lines in Afghanistan has unexpectedly given birth.
The British defence ministry confirmed Thursday that the unidentified soldier, who is a gunner with the Royal Artillery, delivered a baby boy on Tuesday at Camp Bastion.
The ministry said it had not been aware of the woman's pregnancy. Several British media outlets report the woman herself did not realize she was pregnant either.
According to the Daily Mail newspaper, the woman began experiencing severe stomach pains on Tuesday and went to see medics at the base. They informed her she was about to give birth.
The baby was born five weeks premature, the newspaper said. The woman and her child were both in stable condition at the base, the defence ministry said.
A specialist team is being deployed from Britain to help bring the pair home.
Britain does not allow female soldiers to deploy on operation if they are pregnant. The woman had deployed to Afghanistan in March, meaning her child was conceived before her tour of duty began.
According to the BBC, as many as 200 servicewomen have been sent home since 2003 from Iraq and Afghanistan after discovering they were pregnant.
Camp Bastion is Britain's major logistical base in Helmand province and is also where Prince Harry is stationed.
The base came under attack last Friday from Taliban fighters armed with guns, rockets and suicide vests. Two U.S. Marines were killed in the incident and six planes were destroyed.
The Taliban said the attack was staged to avenge a film that insulted Islam and because Harry is serving at the base.