Marines who are pregnant, or have just given birth or adopted a child would receive as much support as they and their infants would need, under new guidelines the service issued last month. The changes also emphasize that service members themselves, as well as their colleagues and the chain of command, would have a course of action directed at returning them to duty as quickly as reasonably possible – without compromising their health or that of the newborn.
“Commanders, supervisory personnel and health-care providers … must provide for the health and safety of pregnant service members and their unborn children, while maintaining optimal job and career performance,” the directive stated.
Under the policy, the service should do all it can to retain Marines whose non-deployability extends beyond the 12 consecutive-month limit. Medical and health professionals should work with these Marines to develop a plan for exercise while pregnant and after delivery.
Discussions about pregnancy should take place at entry-level training. They should address the service’s core values, expectations, and the range of services available to prospective and new parents who wear the uniform. The aviation community should manage requests for flight waivers according to applicable regulations.
Chaplains, commanders and staff judge advocates should be ready to provide appropriate professional services when warranted. They should be prepared to provide information to both male and female Marines about their parental responsibilities, to include getting proper OB/GYN care.
Marines scheduled to deploy should report for pregnancy testing between 14 and 10 days before their deployment date.
Pregnant Marines should not be given duties that would entail exposure to occupational reproductive hazards, or physical activities that could harm their babies. Nonetheless, a regimen for acceptable exercise should be followed by both pregnant and post-partum Marines.
Another provision gives Marines nine months from their delivery date to achieve weight standards. Additionally, pregnancy and its consequences cannot be cited as reasons for adverse fitness reports or evaluations.
Marines whose pregnancies end prematurely or in stillbirth should be given access to the counseling they need.
Other provisions address paternity testing, maternity uniforms and health-care privacy.