[The experiences, policies, and procedures I share within this post are mine and my Wing’s. Your experience and requirements may differ. Speak with your leadership to clarify policies.]
I found out I was pregnant a couple weeks before my September UTA, and had my first doctor’s appointment that confirmed it officially just days before. While my intent was to wait for the end of the first trimester to tell the masses, I knew that just wasn’t going to happen with my Air Force family. Keep this in mind when you go into your squadron for the first time after having your medical provider confirm that you are indeed pregnant – you will need to tell your leadership as soon as possible. My Wing’s policy states that you must immediately notify your commander, supervisor, and the medical squadron. My supervisor was a no-brainer (more on that in a sec), but telling the commander was somewhat awkward. “Sir, I’m required to tell you that I’m knocked up.” I work in an office, so it’s not a huge change in my everyday duties.
Letting your chain of command know promptly is essential to your safety and the safety of your baby. You’ll need to be put on a medical profile stating that you have a “Duty Limiting Condition.”
Prior to my UTA, I called my supervisor and informed her of my pregnancy, asking about my next steps. She let me know that I needed to report to the clinic with documentation from my civilian doctor verifying my pregnancy. Fortunately, my doctor was able to fax me a quick note that indicated that I was receiving prenatal care, along with my expected due date.
Waiting at the clinic took a while that morning, as I was low on the priority list in relation to other Airmen who were there for annual physicals. When I finally got in, it was strictly a verification of my documentation from the doctor, a briefing on the Wing’s policies, and the issuance of my profile. They didn’t do a separate medical examination or make me take a pregnancy test.
Here’s the nuts and bolts from my brief:
- I can keep attending drill (although in a restricted status) up until my 34th week of pregnancy. If I want to continue after that, I must live within 50 miles of my duty station [I do], and I must have support from my commander, my doctor, and if I want to do so.
- A military doctor can restrict me from participating if deemed appropriate.
- I have to provide a letter from my medical provider “summarizing [my] current health, physical restrictions and expected date of delivery” as soon as possible and every 60 days after the fact to determine if I’m still fit to serve.
- If I want to perform duties in the continental United States (CONUS) away from my home station, I have to have clearance from a military doctor. I must also provide a statement from my civilian doctor approving travel.
- If I go into labor during a UTA, I’ll be transferred to a civilian hospital. Pregnancy will not prompt a Line of Duty (LOD) determination – that’s where the military is responsible for your military care because you “hurt” yourself in the line of duty. Basically, I need to make sure I have my own insurance.
- After giving birth, I can come back to duty with an approval note from my doctor and after being cleared by the military doctor.
I signed off indicating my understanding of the above items and a letter was given to me to provide to my supervisor. The next part was my profile, AF Form 469, which took a bit to generate. It lays out duty restrictions and mobility restrictions. Here’s what it spells out for me:
- No standing/marching longer than 15 minutes.
- The inactivated flu vaccine [shot, not the spray] is recommended. I can’t get a live virus immunization without approval from my doctor.
- My duty hours may be limited by my doctor. At 28 weeks, I am encouraged to work an 8 hour shift, but it’s not mandatory.
- I’m excused from wearing the Chemical Warfare Defense Ensemble [No MOPP gear, whoo hoo!] I don’t have to wear a gas mask after 20 weeks or do a gas mask confidence test. I don’t have to wear/carry a flak vest or web belt.
- After 20 weeks, I can wear closed toed, plain, soft-soled black shoes instead of boots. If I was in an environment that required it, they could be steel toed.
- No carrying, lifting, pushing/pulling anything heavier than 25 pounds after 20 weeks.
- I’m exempt from mobility during my profile and for six months after my release date.
- I have PCS/TDY restrictions.
- My PT test is deferred for six months after my profile expires. I can continue to participate in unit fitness programs unless my doctor says otherwise. [I won’t test again until 18 October.]
- I may carry a firearm if my duty requires it up to 5 months, but I have to be excused from firing range practice and duties while I’m on profile.
- I’m disqualified from flying duties and other special duty operators.
- I have to avoid ladders or working at heights after 13 weeks.
That was my day on duty as a newly pregnant Airman. TONS of information and much more than I expected. I quickly learned it was going to be too difficult to hide my news from everyone. Sitting in the clinic that long, getting a profile, yet looking totally healthy and fine? I knew questions would come up quickly. Not to mention, I work in the office where we do clothing issue, so I’d need to speak up when it came time to ask for my maternity uniforms. Fortunately, I’ve made it through my first trimester successfully!