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Servicewoman gives birth in Bastion

A British servicewoman has given birth in Afghanistan, after not realising she was pregnant.

The woman, who is originally from Fiji, had a healthy son at Camp Bastion on Tuesday. Both mother and baby are in a stable condition and will be flown home in the coming days.

A specialist medical team from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford is due to arrive in the Helmand province base to help take them home.

The birth took place just four days after the camp, where the bulk of the UK's 9,500-strong force is deployed, was attacked by Taliban insurgents who destroyed six aircraft and killed two US Marines.

An MoD spokesman said: "We can confirm that on September 18 a UK servicewoman serving in Afghanistan gave birth in the Camp Bastion Field Hospital to a baby boy. Mother and baby are both in a stable condition in the hospital and are receiving the best possible care."

The spokesman added: "It is not military policy to allow servicewomen to deploy on operations if they are pregnant. In this instance the MoD was unaware of her pregnancy. As with all medical cases, when the need arises, individuals are returned to the UK for appropriate treatment/care."

According to the Daily Mail, the woman served as a gunner with the Royal Artillery, and had been deployed with the 17th Mechanised Brigade since March. The newspaper said she only discovered she was pregnant after she went to medics complaining of stomach pains, and the baby was born five weeks prematurely.

A military expert called for more rigorous checks on women going to frontline duties to ensure they are not pregnant because of the risks to their welfare.

Major Charles Heyman, an author of books about the British Army and a former soldier, said he understood a simple urine test could have disclosed the woman's condition.

"The Army needs to make sure, for the welfare of the female soldier concerned, that they are not pregnant before they deploy. I'm not an expert on pregnancy but I'm told that it is easy to tell that a woman is pregnant with a visit to a doctors' surgery and a urine test and that should perhaps be looked at before women go out on operations."

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