Pregnant Soldier
Flickr photo from T.A.H.
I was perusing Flickr when I came upon this photo of a soldier in maternity combat gear. I have to admit, it had never occurred to me that this would be a thing -- and it sure makes me feel like a wimp for sitting in bed at 24 weeks -- but isn't she adorable? I want these pants!

Women are in all aspects of the military these days, and being a soldier doesn't automatically mean diving into the trenches and dodging bullets; you can have all sorts of jobs. So it's only natural that supporting the troops also means getting the right outfit for a growing belly!

I spoke to Debi Dawson from the Army's Office of Strategic Communication, who told me that the first maternity uniforms were introduced in 1980; those were plain green, but since then, they've made maternity uniforms "from field use to dress wear." Pregnant officers buy their uniforms from an Army Clothing Sales Store; enlisted soldiers get a voucher for theirs but are supposed to return them when done.

Maternity Class A
Photo from the U.S. Army
Sara Holland, who works as an army lawyer (think Demi Moore in her navy threads in A Few Good Men), wore maternity uniforms through both of her pregnancies. For her Class A uniform, which is the equivalent of a suit, "the blazer no longer works when you get pregnant, so they have this jumper-type thing. It has no arms; it's just a big green tent that you put over the maternity blouse and pants, and it's your worst nightmare. I tried it on once and never wore it -- just the blouse."

"Uniforms are designed by men," she says, "and I wasn't overly excited by them. The pants didn't have pockets -- and it's not like, once I got pregnant, I suddenly didn't need pockets!" Also, she says that while regular pants come in a variety of lengths, the maternity pants just come in super-extra-long so they can be hemmed as needed.

Maternity ACU
Photo from the U.S. Army
Which uniforms are available can vary. In Hawaii and Germany, Holland says she could simply go to the supply point with her doctor's note, stating she was really pregnant, and pick up her ACUs (Army Combat Uniforms). But her unit was going to Iraq just as she got into one set of maternity uniforms, and because there's always a lag during a style switch, she was stuck in boring ol' green while her cohorts were in the spiffy desert camo. A friend of hers at West Point found that "they don't have all that many enlisted folk there, so they had no ACUs to issue her" and had a friend who'd just had her baby send her a set.

There are also lots of rules about how to wear uniforms, of course, and these are relaxed when you're pregnant. Another friend of Holland's was yelled at by a sergeant major for having the T-shirt of her PT (Physical Training) uniform untucked, and "she turned around and quoted chapter and verse of army regulation six-seventy-dash-one saying she could have her shirt untucked during pregnancy." Imagine? You go, momma!

Let's take a moment to salute military moms, bravely wearing pocketless pants and not-so-flattering smocks in service to our country. I still think they look so cute!

Have you worn a maternity uniform -- Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine? What was it like? Tell us in the comments!