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Marines cut deferment time after childbirth in half

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has tripled the time that sailors can defer deployments after giving birth, while the Marine Corps has cut the deferment period in half for Marines who have babies as of mid-June.

Sailors can now defer deployments for up to 12 months after giving birth. The old policy gave sailors a four-month deferment period, Lt. Stephanie Miller said.

Miller is head of women’s policy for the Chief of Naval Personnel’s Diversity Directorate.

She said the change comes after a two-year effort to revise the Navy’s pregnancy and parenthood policy that included a medical review that looked into issues such as postpartum depression, family readiness and the emotional attachment between mothers and infants.

“Current medical evidence said that for healthy mothers and infants, that a year’s deferment is the best policy,” Miller said.

Research has shown it is important for new mothers to breast-feed their babies for the first year, and that giving families a year off allows them to establish a long-term child-care plan, she said.

“We just felt that this really is the best policy, the right thing to do for healthy Navy families,” Miller said.

In other changes, the Navy is also giving mothers shaken baby syndrome prevention training and postpartum depression screening. The new policy requires commanders to provide mothers a clean place to breast-feed their babies, she said.

Navy mothers and fathers now have 21 days administrative leave to adopt children, she said.

For more on the new Navy policy, go to Navy Administrative Message 157/07 available at www.npc.navy.mil

None of those changes apply to Marines, who now have six months to defer deployments after giving birth instead of 12 months, a Marine Corps spokeswoman said.

“There are responsibilities that come with parenthood, and for those in uniform, these responsibilities require increased consideration and planning due to military commitments,” the spokeswoman said in a Thursday e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

The change came after an extensive review of the old Corps policy on pregnancy and parenthood, the spokeswoman said.

“During the review and staffing process it was determined six-month deferment provided the best balance between ensuring the health of the mother and child and the needs and requirements of the Marine Corps,” the spokeswoman said.

Commanders can extend the new six-month deferment period for Marines if it is determined to be in the best interest of the mother or child, according to the policy, which was announced in a June 14 Marine Corps Administrative Message.

Marines who already gave birth when the old 12-month policy was in effect are exempt from the change, the policy says.

In another change, pregnant Marines cannot be ordered to family-restricted tours for six months after giving birth, down from 12 months, according to the Corps.

The new policy also exempts Marines from the Physical Fitness Test during pregnancy and for six months after returning to full duty, according to the Corps.

Marines who suffer a miscarriage or give birth to a stillborn baby should inform their command and work with their obstetricians to determine when they should resume physical training and taking the Physical Fitness Test, the policy says.

For more information on the new Corps policy, go to MARADMIN 358/07 available at www.usmc.mil.


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