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Pregnancy in the RAF
A Guide for the Servicewoman
Service Woman’s Booklet | 1
Foreword by AMP
Introduction 3
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Pregnancy in the RAF – The Next Steps
Your Options
Maternity Benefits and Entitlement
Terms of Service
Fitness for Deployment
Annual Appraisals
Maternity Uniform
Returning to Service – RAF Fitness Test
Flexible Working Arrangements
Medical Issues
Antenatal Appointments
Common Physical Symptoms
Special Health Issues
Common Issues and Emotions
Nutrition for Pregnancy
The Maternity Check Sheet
Sources of Support - Useful Organisations 22
Q&A’s – Commonly Asked Questions 27
Further Reading
Please note that this booklet will also be available electronically through the Community Support website.
The electronic version will be periodically updated as required.
2 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Whether you are about to become a mother for the first time, or are adding to
your family, you are about to embark on a new chapter of your personal life.
As AMP, I am very clear about the importance of encouraging a work/life balance
that enables individuals to successfully manage Service and family commitments.
As such, my Employment Policy team have been focussing on improvements to
the pregnancy/maternity process, to allow you to pursue your family ambitions,
while feeling confident that your return to work will also be well facilitated
and supportive.
In writing this booklet, we spoke with many Servicewomen who have experienced
both pregnancy and maternity leave within the Service to understand better how we
could provide greater support. As well as introducing this particular guide, we have
also introduced a booklet for line managers to ensure that they are better placed to
assist Servicewomen throughout both the pregnancy and maternity process; this
will be followed shortly by a similar guide for career managers. Aware that fitness is
an increasing concern for new mothers, we have changed the RAF Fitness Policy to
allow Servicewomen returning from maternity leave a 6-month period in which to
re-gain their fitness before they have to take the RAFFT. Furthermore, we are also
working with the MOD to provide clearer guidance with regard to Servicewomen’s
pregnancy and maternity rights and options.
I hope that you will find the information contained in this booklet of benefit and my
Employment Policy staff would welcome your feedback on 95221 6640. I wish you
a healthy pregnancy and I hope that you enjoy the time you take at home to bond
with your child.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 3
Welcome to ‘Pregnancy in the RAF
– A Guide for the Servicewoman’.
Congratulations! This booklet has been provided for you together with a guide
to be passed to your line manager/flight commander, because you are pregnant.
It contains information that is designed to help make your experience of a
working pregnancy within the Service as stress free and fulfilling as possible.
You will find information about managing your health and safety in the
workplace, wherever that might be, as well as information to help make the
decision as to whether you return to Service life after your maternity leave.
A productive, enjoyable, working pregnancy in the Service is a team effort and
requires communication. Your line manager/flight commander and colleagues, both
civilian and military, are best placed to offer you the support that you will need in the
workplace. For this to happen, they will need your help. Every pregnancy is different,
and every woman will have a different experience. The people that you work with,
and for, will need your guidance about your unique needs for your pregnancy.
The RAF is committed to supporting your pregnancy; managing your safety,
providing time off for antenatal appointments and providing as much information
as possible to help you make decisions about your future within the Service.
This guide should be read in conjunction with the current policy DIN (2011DIN01115)1 and the Tri Service Regulations for leave and absence, JSP 760 Chap 20.2
4 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Chapter 1
Pregnancy in the RAF - The next steps
As a Servicewoman, you are strongly advised to notify your unit Medical Officer
(MO) as soon as you think you are pregnant; even if the unit medical centre will
not be providing your antenatal care. Once your pregnancy is confirmed with
Unit medical staffs, your Joint Medical Employment Standard (JMES) will be regraded to reflect this. The re-grading is primarily for health and safety reasons to
protect both you and your unborn child and is particularly important if you are
due to be deployed, because as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed you will be
excused from operational duty; weapon firing; and subject to medical advice,
certain other duties such as night shifts. Whilst the JMES will be changed there
are 2 options open to you at this point;
a. One JMES is pregnancy-specific and will inform personnel staff that you are
pregnant. Most women are happy with this, but you will be asked to sign a
consent form to confirm that you are.
b. Alternatively, there is an option for a non-specific change of JMES which will
still protect you prior to your formally notifying the Service.
You are encouraged to agree to the pregnancy-specific JMES from the outset,
unless there is an overwhelming reason not to do so. While the choice is yours, your
pregnancy will not be secret for long!
Your line manager may also need to make other decisions concerning your health
and safety and has a responsibility to carry out a full risk assessment once he/she is
aware of your pregnancy; therefore, it is in your interest to tell him/her as soon as
possible. It may be necessary to place restrictions on your duties to ensure that the
MoD can fulfil its legal obligations and responsibilities for your health and safety, and
that of your unborn child, or to preserve operational effectiveness. Once you tell your
Service Woman’s Booklet | 5
line manager, you should provide them with the copy of the ‘Line Managers Guide for
Pregnant Servicewomen’ which you were given by the Unit medical staff.
Choosing when to inform your line manager of your pregnancy can be difficult.
While you are under no obligation to inform them straight away, the earlier you
choose to do so, the sooner you can start working together to ensure that you
have good lines of communication and that all the necessary health and safety
requirements are in place. Once you have informed your line manager, you can
then also discuss what options are open to you including maternity leave and pay,
assignment issues, appraisal reports and, if desired, your right to leave the RAF on
the grounds of pregnancy.
Whatever you decide to do, you must formally notify your Commanding Officer and
Career Manager of your pregnancy, by letter or email, no later than the 15th week
before your expected week of childbirth, unless this is not reasonably practicable.
This is usually done by a MAT B1 Form which will be issued by your doctor or
midwife on or after the 20th week of pregnancy. The MAT B1 form will confirm your
pregnancy and give the expected date of childbirth; it will be this date that you will
use to work out the dates of your maternity leave. You will need to give your line
manager a copy of the MAT B1 together with the relevant Maternity Notice Form
(a copy of which can be found in 2011DIN01-115) stating whether your intention is
to remain in or leave the Service. Your line manager will then pass the paperwork
to PSF staff.
6 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Your options
There are two options available to you as a pregnant Servicewoman:
Option 1
Return to work after maternity leave. This may be any of the following:
• The 2 week minimum by Law
• A period of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) – a period of up to 26 weeks’ leave
to which all Servicewomen are entitled
• OML and Additional Maternity Leave (AML) – a further period of up to 26 weeks’
leave which can follow on from OML
• OML plus AML and/or Parental Leave3
• A period of OML, followed by Service spouse/partner taking a period of
Additional Paternity Leave (APL) (Please see 2011DIN01-037 for full details
of APL)
To elect for any of the above within Option 1 you should complete the Maternity
Notice Form at Annex A to the current DIN (2011DIN01-115).
Option 2
Use a special right to leave the RAF prematurely on the grounds of pregnancy.
Before deciding to leave, you must seek advice from your Unit PSF staff. This is
important as leaving the Service early might affect your entitlement to, or the
amount of, higher Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) that you might receive. You may opt
to leave at any time after confirmation of pregnancy is issued, but should normally
give sufficient notice to allow discharge procedures to be completed. You should
note that to establish an entitlement to SMP you must have completed a minimum
of 26 weeks’ service as at the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.
You may opt to leave under these special terms at any time up to your return to work
after maternity leave. You do not have the right to withdraw notice of leaving the
Service if you change your mind; normal rules on leaving the Service apply.
3 Parental leave is unpaid, does not count towards the completion of a commission/engagement and is not reckonable
for pensionable purposes.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 7
To elect for Option 2 you should complete the Maternity Notice Form at Annex B to
the current DIN (2011DIN01-115).
Once you have selected your option, your commanding officer or line manager will
write to you within 28 days of receiving your Notice Form. This letter will confirm
the dates of your maternity leave and the date it is anticipated that you will return
(if applicable).
Maternity benefits and entitlement
All pregnant Servicewomen with more than 26 weeks’ continuous service are entitled
to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. This includes 26 weeks’ OML, and up
to 26 weeks’ of AML. Entitlement to additional benefits under the Armed Forces’
Occupational Maternity Scheme (AFOMS) depends on how long you have been in
the Armed Forces and whether you will be returning to work after the birth of your
child. The following tables provide a summary of maternity leave and pay, but you
should refer to the current DIN for a full explanation of what is available.
Length of Service Required to
Qualify for Benefits
(by 15th week before the baby is due)
Leave Benefits Available
All Pregnant Servicewomen
26 weeks’ OML (of which 2 weeks is
compulsory) to be taken immediately
after the birth of the child, plus up to 26
weeks’ AML
More than 26 weeks’ continuous service
(Servicewoman returning to duty)
26 weeks’ OML plus up to 26 weeks’ AML
More than 26 weeks’ continuous service
(Servicewoman not returning to duty)
26 weeks’ OML plus up to 26 weeks’ AML
8 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Length of Service Required to
Qualify for Benefits
(15th week before the baby is due)
Leave Benefits Available
Less than 26 weeks’ continuous service
You are are not entitled to maternity pay,
but you may be entitled to up to 39 weeks’
state benefits (Maternity Allowance)
Between 26 and 52 weeks’
continuous service
Up to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay
(SMP). SMP is 90% of your average pay
for the first 6 weeks, then either £128.734
per week or 90% of your average pay
(whichever is lower) for the remaining 33
weeks. The remaining 13 weeks of AML
(if taken) are unpaid.
More than 52 weeks’ continuous service,
and intend to return to duty for a minimum
of 12 months after maternity leave.
AFOMS pay. This is full pay for the first 26
weeks (OML), then SMP for up to 13 weeks
(currently £128.73). The remaining 13
weeks of AML (if taken) are unpaid.
More than 52 weeks’ continuous service,
and not intending to return to duty for
any period following maternity leave
(Servicewoman exercising right to leave
Service on pregnancy)
Up to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay
(SMP). SMP is 90% of your average pay
for the first 6 weeks, then either £128.73
per week or 90% of your average pay
(whichever is lower) for the remaining 33
weeks. The remaining 13 weeks of AML
(if taken) are unpaid.
Terms of service
• During OML – normal terms and conditions of service apply whether intending
to leave or return to the Service. OML counts towards completion of your
engagement or commission and is reckonable service for purposes such as
increments, seniority, promotion, pension, annual leave and public holidays.
4SMP rate as at 1 Aug 11 – please note this is subject to change. Current rates of SMP can be found at
Service Woman’s Booklet | 9
• During AML – AML also counts towards completion of your engagement or
commission, but only the paid element (of up to 13 weeks) is reckonable for
pension purposes and the accrual of annual leave and public holidays.
• Return of Service (RoS) – after a period of maternity leave, you are expected
to complete a 12 month RoS. Should you start another period of maternity
leave before the end of the 12 month RoS from the initial pregnancy, then the
maternity leave counts towards that initial return.
When can maternity leave start?
You can choose to start your OML at any time from the 11th week before your
expected week of childbirth. You may also take unpaid pre-natal leave between the
14th and 11th week prior to your expected week of childbirth. If your baby is born
before you have started your maternity leave, your leave will start on the date your
baby is born and your return date will be recalculated.
Fitness for Deployment
There are a number of Service-related activities and deployments when you may
be asked if you know of any reason why you should not undertake such activities;
pregnancy may be specifically stated as one of those reasons. You should complete
these forms honestly and accurately. When your pregnancy is confirmed by the MO,
the resulting JMES reclassification will render you temporarily non-deployable.
If you are already deployed when your pregnancy is confirmed, the MO will conduct
a clinical risk assessment. In most cases (nearly all operational deployments) this will
result in you being returned to the UK with the award of a non-deployable code.
Exceptionally, where it can be demonstrated that clinical risk is of an acceptable level,
a limited deployable JMES may be awarded allowing for your return to the UK to be
deferred to a later stage of the pregnancy. Please note that even if there appears to
be adequate antenatal care, there may be insufficient obstetric care to cope with any
potential complications or premature births. The Service will always consider the
health and safety of you and your baby to be of prime importance when making the
10 | Service Woman’s Booklet
decision to return you from deployment. The clinical risk assessment may, therefore,
advise relocation on neonatal grounds before you reach 22 weeks’ gestation.
If the MO has deemed the clinical risk to be unacceptable, and you should choose to
contest this decision, advice will be sought from personnel and legal staffs and will
require you to consent to the disclosure of the pregnancy. You should note that if
you do not wish to consent to disclosure of the pregnancy, for any reason, this will
result in the award of a medical non-deployable JMES and you would be returned
to the UK.
Pregnancy and Recruits
If you are an RAF recruit, and you become pregnant after attestation and
commencement of recruit training, you will be awarded the same JMES as any other
pregnant Servicewoman who has completed training. Any rights to maternity leave
and pay will be as per the tables listed previously, and the processes to be followed
remain the same as those listed within this booklet, JSP 760 Chpt 20 and 2011
Annual appraisals and career progression
The RAF is committed to ensuring that, as a Servicewoman, you are not discriminated
against or treated any less favourably, as a result of your pregnancy. As a period of
maternity leave can mean that you are out of the work environment for up to 52
weeks, an appraisal report (AR) will be provided for any pregnant Servicewoman
commencing maternity leave. This will be done by either deferring or bringing
forward your annual report; this is to ensure that any reporting gaps are kept to a
minimum and that any promotion board will have the most recent possible report
to consider.
If you are selected for promotion while pregnant or on maternity leave, you will not
be overlooked for assignment to a suitable appointment in the new rank on the
grounds of maternity absence. As at any time in your career, you do retain the right
to decline promotion for personal reasons.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 11
Change of plans?
You can change your plans after you have submitted your Maternity Notice Form, but
you must give 28 days’ notice. However, if you have exercised your right to leave the
RAF on grounds of pregnancy you do not automatically have the right to withdraw
your notice of leaving the Service and normal Service rules will apply.
If you have been in receipt of AFOMS and then decide to amend your leaving date
from the Service so that you would leave without completing the required period of
RoS, you should be aware that you will be required to refund the difference between
the full pay received during OML and the level of SMP that you are legally entitled to.
Maternity uniform
As soon as you have had your pregnancy confirmed, you should order a maternity
uniform from clothing stores. There is no set date from which to change from normal
working dress to your maternity uniform; it is designed to be worn from a point
when your standard uniform becomes too tight. This is entirely up to you and will
vary from person to person.
Service maternity uniform is a personal choice/combination of dress, trousers,
short sleeve shirts and cardigan. Unlike SD shirts, maternity shirts are designed to
be worn outside of the trousers. The MVP RAF weatherproof jacket is designed to
accommodate the majority of pregnancies up to going on maternity leave. If a
suitable sized Service issue jacket cannot be provided, then a dark civilian top
coat may be worn outdoors. Headwear should not be worn in this instance.
All Servicewomen are entitled to an issue of 4 ‘tops’ be it blouses or dresses.
Your choice of maternity uniform could be 4 blouses to be worn with trousers,
or 4 dresses, or a combination of both.
Keeping in touch days (KIT)
You can return to duty for up to 10 days during your maternity leave period without
bringing the maternity leave to an end. KIT days are designed to enable you to
12 | Service Woman’s Booklet
undertake training and keep up to date with new developments without losing your
right to maternity pay. KIT days are optional and cannot be taken during the first
two weeks following childbirth. You should agree with your line management any
voluntary arrangements for keeping in touch during your maternity leave.
Returning to Service after maternity leave
This can be an apprehensive time for you as a Servicewoman; it can be hard to leave
your child, your chain of command and colleagues may have moved on, or you may
have general concerns with settling back in to life with the RAF. One of the main
concerns that have been highlighted by returning Servicewomen is the pressure to
get back to pre-maternity fitness levels.
• RAF Fitness Test – with effect from 1 Apr 11, any Servicewoman returning from
a period of maternity leave will be given a 6-month grace period before having
to take her RAFFT. In addition, PEd staffs are able to provide a post-maternity
return to fitness package for you so that you can achieve the required fitness
standards in a timely and safe manner. The SMO will sign you off as exempt
from fitness testing for 6 months at your Return to Work medical at the end
of your maternity leave. You should then liaise with your local PEd staffs so
they can update JPA accordingly and provide you with the necessary
training package.
Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA)
While flexible working is not a right in the Armed Forces, all Service personnel are
entitled to request FWA so they may better balance the demands of personal life
and Service commitments. As you return from maternity leave such arrangements
may be necessary to accommodate early child care issues, or breast feeding
requirements. Any request to vary working patterns should be made via your
line manager. Your line manager will consider FWA where it does not impinge on
operational capability. You should note that it may not always be possible for nonstandard hours to be worked due to the ways in which different arms and branches
of the Services operate.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 13
Flexible working does not just mean variable start and finish times; there are a
number of options available to you depending on your needs and also includes
career breaks or special unpaid leave. Further details for flexible working are available
in 2005DIN02-012 and JSP 760 Chpt 17 and 18. Any implementation of FWA is done
on a temporary basis only and a period of review should be agreed with your line
manager. Remember also that the Service retains the right to cease any FWA should
operational capability require it.
As a Service parent you are responsible for making your own arrangements with
childcare and meeting the costs involved, so you should also investigate your
eligibility for Tax credits and other benefits through the Direct Gov website.
Your Unit PSF staffs should also be able to provide advice on your eligibility for
the Armed Forces Childcare Voucher Scheme5 which can help to spread the cost.
The RAF will endeavour not to deploy both Service parents (where applicable) at the
same time where this does not affect operational capability. Should issues arise with
child care after you have returned from maternity, you are advised to discuss this with
your line management as soon as possible.
Many units have commercial crèches and nurseries on their premises, or nearby.
In general, however, there is a high demand for places in nurseries and for
childminders that can lead to long waiting lists. You should start investigating your
options and making preliminary arrangements for childcare as early as possible.
HIVEs maintain lists of local nurseries and crèches which may assist you. Do not wait
until after your child is born.
14 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Chapter 2
Medical Issues
This chapter will discuss antenatal care as well as some of the physical changes
that you might experience now that you are pregnant. Whether this is your first
pregnancy or one of several, it is highly unlikely that you will experience all of the
symptoms and if you are already a mum, the symptoms this time around might
be very different from your previous pregnancy.
Antenatal appointments
Regardless of your length of service, you
are entitled to paid time off to attend
any antenatal appointments and classes.
It is important to go to all of these
appointments, even if you are feeling fine
or are facing a tight deadline; you need to
make sure that both you and the baby are
healthy and that the baby is developing
normally. Let your chain of command
know about the appointments in advance
as much as you can so that cover can
be arranged if necessary. Your line
management may require a copy of any
appointment letters for audit purposes.
All antenatal care in the UK is shared between the unit medical centre and the NHS.
Your midwife (providing care before and around delivery) and the health visitor
(providing care after delivery) will supply a wealth of information and services
according to your needs and those available to you in your local area. In the UK,
all obstetric care (anything relating to pregnancy and childbirth) is undertaken by
the NHS.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 15
Frequency of appointments
Provided that the MO is aware of your pregnancy your first antenatal appointment
will probably be around the 10th week of pregnancy, unless there is a particular
reason for you to be seen earlier than this. After that, antenatal appointments may
occur along the following timelines or as directed by your midwife or MO:
0 to ? weeks
10 to 12 weeks
16 weeks
18 to 20 weeks
25 weeks
28 weeks
31 weeks
34 weeks
36 weeks
38 weeks
40 weeks
41 weeks
inform the doctor that you are pregnant
initial booking appointment for scans/screening
review results of screening
for first pregnancies only
for all pregnancies
for first pregnancies only
for all pregnancies
for all pregnancies
for all pregnancies
for first pregnancies only
women who have not yet given birth
Please note that these are general guidelines only and there will inevitably be
deviations based on appointments available and the specifics of your own
pregnancy. If there is a further medical condition, or any other concerns, your
appointments may be more frequent. Make sure that you communicate well with
your line management about the frequency and dates of these appointments.
Common physical symptoms
Pregnancy can affect your whole body and is different for everyone, so you may
experience any number of symptoms or none at all! The symptoms listed are fairly
common in pregnancy but if you are worried about these or any others, always
discuss them with your doctor or midwife. Ensure that your line manager is aware of
any physical symptoms that you are experiencing as they will have to take those in to
account when completing the necessary risk assessment for you and your role while
you are pregnant.
16 | Service Woman’s Booklet
• Morning sickness – Despite the name, this does not just happen in the
morning. It is usually worse in the first few months of pregnancy and
some women will only feel nauseous occasionally, while others can be sick
throughout the day or react to something very specific. You should talk to your
midwife or doctor if you are feeling excessively sick or unwell. Regular snacking
can sometimes help to combat the worst of morning sickness as it helps to keep
your blood sugar levels stable.
If you need to, talk to your chain of command about changing your hours
temporarily if you find that the worst of the sickness coincides with your
journey in to, or out of, work.
• Bladder issues – You must drink plenty of fluids, even though you may need to
go to the toilet more often due to the baby pressing down on your bladder.
You may find that you leak a bit of urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh – this
might be because your pelvic floor muscles have relaxed slightly to prepare for
your baby’s birth. Practice some pelvic floor exercises and wear a light pad if
you find that this is a problem for you.
• Backache – This is a particularly common complaint during pregnancy as your
weight and centre of balance shift due to the baby, and the joints in your pelvis
loosen in preparation for the birth. Avoid lifting wherever possible, and check
your posture whether standing, sitting or generally moving around. Try to sit
upright and not recline back, as this increases the pressure on your pelvis.
Stress can make backache worse so use relaxation techniques as much as
you can. You might benefit from seeing an osteopath if it gets particularly
bad, so speak to your doctor about this if you need to (although any private
or complimentary therapies will be at your own expense).
• Varicose veins – Carrying extra weight, pregnancy hormones and increased
blood flow all put pressure on your veins and it is this that causes many women
to suffer from varicose veins in their pregnancy. If you have any symptoms
including pain in the legs, swollen, visible veins and itchiness, then check
with your doctor to make sure that there is no inflammation or blood clots.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 17
Avoid standing for long periods and don’t cross your legs when you are sitting
down as this slows the blood flow.
• Teeth and gums – The hormonal changes of pregnancy can affect your teeth
and gums. Gums tend to bleed more and you may find that you get more of
a plaque build-up on your teeth. If you have any concerns, it is advisable to
book a dental check-up and let them know that you are pregnant. The dentist
and hygienist will be able to provide advice that can help avoid some of the
pregnancy related issues.
• Lack of sleep – Sleep may become elusive, just as you would seem to need
it most! As your bump grows, you may feel uncomfortable and restless.
Your bladder may also cause you to have to get up several times in the night.
Even if you can’t sleep, there are other ways that you can rest your body
and mind:
t ry to cut back on the amount of work that you are doing
limit the number of times you go out in the week
rest whenever you can
avoid too much caffeine
eat a varied, healthy diet
take some gentle exercise, such as a walk or swim
• Lung capacity – As your baby grows, the space available for your lungs to
expand and contract becomes more limited. Your baby will also be making its
own demands for oxygen from your body, so you should avoid prolonged or
excessive exercise, or anything that makes you out of breath. If you have lots of
stairs at work take a rest between floors, or take the elevator. If you should find
yourself out of breath, try and stay calm as adrenaline in your body diverts the
blood away from the placenta.
• Dizziness and fainting – Regular breaks and access to fresh air, snacks and
drinks can help prevent dizziness. If you should feel dizzy or faint, make
someone around you aware and sit down with your head between your knees.
18 | Service Woman’s Booklet
• Carpal tunnel syndrome – You may experience carpal tunnel syndrome (pain
and numbness in the fingers), especially if you use your fingers and hands
repetitively, and are involved with administrative work, or are a technician.
If you suffer from this you will need to take regular breaks to rest your hands
and you may need to be given alternative work for a while.
• Forgetfulness – Do not be surprised if your normal ability to remember
things such as appointments or conversations is reduced. It may be down to
hormones or it may be that you already have a lot on your mind. You might
be used to running a really busy section or managing several issues at once
and now you can’t remember where you parked your car or a conversation you
had yesterday. Do not worry. Accept it as natural and take things slowly; make
written notes to remind you about the important things.
Special health issues in pregnancy
If your antenatal appointments highlight any specific health issues during your
pregnancy you are advised to make your LM aware as soon as possible. Your LM
will treat any information provided as confidential unless you indicate that you
are happy for other members of your team to know. You should make your LM
aware so that the issues can be taken in to consideration for your workplace
risk assessment. There are a number of specific health issues that your antenatal
check-ups may highlight:
• Over 40 – As women age, the risk of miscarriage and premature labour
increases and there is also an increased chance that the baby may have
Down’s syndrome. However, there are a number of tests available to detect
abnormalities in the baby and both you and your baby will be monitored
closely throughout your pregnancy to ensure that you are both as healthy as
possible. Some of the tests may require you to take a couple of days off work as
a precautionary measure. Liaise with your LM if this is the case.
• Depression – A case of the blues in pregnancy is common due to temporary
hormonal changes but if you feel very low and your mood doesn’t lift, you must
Service Woman’s Booklet | 19
tell the doctor or your midwife. You should not feel ashamed of your feelings,
many women have them, and it’s important not to bottle them up. It may be
that a course of counselling or other support will be of benefit.
• Diabetes – If you are already a diabetic, or if you develop pregnancy related
diabetes (gestational diabetes), then you will probably require more antenatal
check-ups than other women. Make sure that you follow any medical advice
that you are given by the doctor or consultant and take plenty of rest. You may
be advised to start your maternity leave earlier than planned. Any anti-diabetic
treatment will almost certainly have to be increased during the pregnancy
and cut back again as soon as the baby is born. Gestational diabetes usually
disappears once the baby is born but may reappear in subsequent pregnancies.
• Epilepsy – Some women with epilepsy experience more seizures during
pregnancy than at other times but others will find that frequency does not
increase. Tell your doctor or midwife if you start to have more seizures than
normal and always follow their advice.
• High blood pressure – If you suffer from high blood pressure, you will need as
much rest and relaxation as possible. If your job is particularly stressful you may
need to consider cutting back on your hours for a while or changing aspects of
your role. Keep your doctor or midwife informed about any symptoms that you
may experience and ensure that your LM is aware. Stress can be a health and
safety matter.
• Twins and more – Two or more growing babies place additional demands on
your body so you need to rest whenever you can and listen to the advice given
by your health team. You will need more regular antenatal check-ups, including
scans, and you may well be advised to start maternity leave earlier than if you
were pregnant with one baby.
20 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Chapter 3
Common Issues and Emotions
• Work – Although your LM is responsible for ensuring that you have a safe and
productive pregnancy while in the workplace, you will need to make sure that
you communicate effectively so they are aware of your concerns. If you don’t,
they will remain unsolved. If you are finding work a struggle or you feel guilty
that your post will be gapped and your colleagues will have to pick up extra
work, talk to your LM.
• Pressure – Women, in particular, often feel under pressure to be all things to all
people. Pregnancy often makes this worse! Try not to put too much pressure
on yourself; listen to your body and pay attention to your emotional needs.
• Financial – Starting a family, or increasing the size of it, can put a strain on your
finances. You might be worried how you will cope, especially if you choose to
take AML, some of which will be unpaid. Ask your Unit PSF staffs for advice on
the eligibility for the childcare voucher scheme. Check to see if you are eligible
for additional benefits or Tax credits and try to sort out a financial plan early
in your pregnancy. If you have a partner, discuss any concerns with them.
Don’t take on any added stress alone.
• Labour – Many pregnant women have concerns about the labour stage,
especially as the birth date gets closer. Your midwife has a lot of expertise and
experience, so talk to her. If you think it will help, talk to fellow Servicewomen
who have been through pregnancy and maternity in the Service. Don’t keep
any concerns bottled up; they are perfectly natural.
• Mood swings – You may feel as if you can take on the world one minute and
the next you could be wiping away tears. This is because you have significant
levels of hormones racing around your body. These up and down mood swings
can put a strain on any relationship, so keep talking to those around you;
explain how you feel and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 21
Chapter 4
Nutrition for Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you are more likely than normal to become deficient in
certain nutrients due to the demands of your growing baby. As part of your
balanced diet it is important that you include foods containing folate, calcium,
iron and vitamin C.
• Foods containing folate – good sources of folate are green vegetables such
as spinach and broccoli, peas, avocado, citrus fruits and their juices, or foods
fortified with folic acid.
• Foods containing calcium – calcium is important for the growth and
development of your baby’s bones and for the prevention of leg cramps.
During pregnancy, it is recommended that you consume at least 700mg of
calcium a day (equivalent to 1 pint of milk). If you are suffering from cramps
you should increase your intake of calcium further as the hormones from your
baby will take what it needs from your bones.
• Foods containing iron – during pregnancy you are at increased risk of
becoming anaemic which means that you will feel tired and lethargic.
The tannins in tea can reduce the amount of iron that can be absorbed from
food so you should not drink tea with meals. Foods containing iron include
lean red meat, green leafy vegetables, oily fish, wholemeal bread and eggs.
• Foods containing vitamin C – vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron so
it is a good idea to have a source of vitamin C with each meal, such as a glass
of orange juice at breakfast. Other foods that are high in vitamin C include
vegetables, citrus fruits and their juices. Raw and steamed vegetables contain
more vitamin C than boiled vegetables.
Some foods contain a type of bacteria called listeria, which can cause miscarriage,
22 | Service Woman’s Booklet
stillbirth or severe illness in young babies. The following foods should be avoided
during your pregnancy, as they may contain listeria, vitamin A or salmonella:
Unpasteurised soft cheese, such as camembert and brie
All types of pate
Fish containing mercury, such as shark, swordfish and marlin
Multivitamin supplements containing vitamin A, and fish liver oil supplements
Raw eggs and food containing raw or partially cooked eggs
Raw meat and raw or cold seafood
Liver and liver products, due to vitamin A
Summary of what to eat during pregnancy
• Eat plenty of starchy foods each day, such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
Where possible, choose the wholegrain option.
• Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
• Eat foods containing calcium such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, dried apricots, fish,
beans and tofu.
• Eat protein rich foods each day such as lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs and pulses.
• Aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish such
as fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel or sardines.
• Eat plenty of fibre; this can be found in fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads and
cereals, and pulses.
• Where possible, avoid adding salt to your food during cooking and at the table.
• Drink no more than one or 2 units of alcohol, once or twice a week. Guidelines are
always changing, so follow the advice of the day.
• Limit the amount of caffeine that you consume as it interferes with the amount
of oxygen going to the placenta and also reduces the amount of vitamins and
minerals that your body can absorb.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 23
The Maternity Checklist
The following check sheet is designed as a guide only. Firm dates for completion
are given where there are set deadlines, other areas suggest ASAP as the timeline is
dictated by when you choose to have your pregnancy confirmed with the Service,
and when you wish to inform your LM. As mentioned previously, the sooner you
choose to inform your LM of your pregnancy the quicker he/she can start taking
steps to assist you and ensure that the correct risk assessments are in place to protect
you and your unborn child.
The guideline is based on the servicewoman that is intending to return to duty
following a period of maternity leave.
By When
Initial Notification
Make appointment with Unit Medical Centre to
confirm pregnancy. You will be given details of
the local midwife at this point and should make
an appointment with them directly.
Any Point
0-12 wks
Take the FMed 566 that the MO will give you to
ASAP after (1)
Order maternity uniform via Supply.
ASAP after (1)
MAT B1 Issued from Doctor or midwife
20 wks +
Take MAT B1 with statement of intention to
Unit PSF.
20 wks +
Latest point at which to notify Service/LM of
your pregnancy.
24 wks
Issue LM Booklet to LM at point of notification.
Any point
0-24 wks
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During OML/AML
Take a copy of your child’s birth certificate to
PSF and register your child. NB - If the father is
a Serviceman, he will also need to register the
child with his own PSF.
ASAP after
PSF will send letter requiring confirmation of
intentions from you.
15 wks in to
Hastener from PSF if you have not replied to
the above
19 wks in to
Returning to Duty
Attend Return to Work medical; receive further
FMed 566 for 6 month exemption for RAFFT
and inform Unit PEd Flt.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 25
Sources of Support
The RAF is committed to providing, wherever possible, supportive arrangements
to accommodate pregnancy and maternity leave within a Servicewoman’s career.
While the first port of call for any of your queries should be your Unit PSF staffs
or LM, all the sources of support listed below will be able to offer either advice or
counselling to pregnant Servicewomen.
Armed Forces Childcare Voucher Scheme
Website that provides information relating to MOD specific childcare vouchers
that can help working parents pay for childcare.
Childcare Link
Free-phone helpline for childcare information.
Tel: 0800 234 6346
Daycare Trust
Provides parents with enough information to make the right childcare choice.
Tel: 0845 872 6251
Employment Tribunals Service
Tel: 0845 795 9775
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Equality and Human Rights Commission
Advice for anyone who feels they have been treated unfairly because of their
sex or race. They can also provide advice to employers on good practice.
Tel: 0845 604 6610
Health and Safety Executive
The HSE can provide advice on pregnancy/maternity and health and safety concerns.
Tel: 0845 345 0055 (0800 to 1800hrs)
Meet a Mum Association
Help for new mums, especially those with postnatal depression.
Tel: 0845 120 3746
Working Families
This provides free advice and information, including a helpline and a website for
families, including those on low incomes.
Tel: 0800 013 0313 (helpline number)
Tel: 0207 253 7243
Service Woman’s Booklet | 27
Q & A’s
How do I work out when the 15th week before the week I am due is?
Each week runs from midnight between Saturday and Sunday, so if the date you are
due is Sun 1 Jan, the week you are due is 1 to 7 Jan. On the calendar count back 15
weeks from the week you are due. In this example, the 15th week before you are due
would be 18 to 24 Sep – which would be the latest time that you should tell your
chain of command that you are pregnant.
What if I fall ill during pregnancy?
The normal rules for sick leave apply. You should notify your line manager on the first
day of your absence and certify your sick leave in the same way as normal. However,
if the illness is pregnancy related and likely to persist, special rules apply (see below).
How much maternity leave am I entitled to?
All pregnant Servicewomen are entitled to take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave,
regardless of their length of service. All Servicewomen must take a minimum of 2
weeks’ maternity leave immediately after the birth of their baby.
How much maternity pay am I entitled to?
Maternity pay is dependent on your length of service and whether or not you intend
to return to service following the birth of your baby. There is a table in the main body
of this booklet that summarises your pay entitlement.
What if I have a pregnancy-related illness before I go on maternity leave?
Your maternity leave will start automatically if you are absent from work for a
pregnancy-related illness during the 4 weeks before the start of your expected week
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of childbirth, regardless of when you actually wanted your maternity leave to start.
Your maternity leave dates will be re-calculated if you find yourself in this position.
What happens with my annual leave?
You are entitled to take annual leave before or after the maternity leave period, but
see the DIN (2011DIN01-115) if you are leaving the Service on completion of Ordinary
Maternity Leave (OML). Your annual leave will continue to accrue in the normal way
and can be taken with any annual leave you may already have. Annual leave does
not accrue during Additional Maternity Leave (AML). If the leave year ends before the
end of your maternity leave, you should make every effort to take annual leave before
you go on maternity leave. If you have a problem calculating what leave you are
entitled to you should consult your unit personnel management staff.
What is my status when I am on maternity leave?
You are entitled to any opportunities that would be available if you were not on
maternity leave. OML, but not AML which is unpaid, is counted as reckonable service.
You should discuss with your line manager your preference for keeping in touch so
that you do not feel isolated whilst on maternity leave. When you return to duty after
OML, AML and/or Parental Leave, the Services will try to meet your geographical and
posting preferences in accordance with normal Service arrangements.
Where do I return to after maternity leave?
If you opt to return to duty immediately after OML, then every effort will be made
to return you to your old post (if you so wish) provided that in doing so your return
does not have an adverse and disproportionate impact on normal posting practices
or operational effectiveness. If, for Service reasons, you are unable to return to your
previous post, then you should seek advice from your Career Manager who may be
able to offer you a suitable post in the same location.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 29
Will I be deployed on return to work?
If you return to work after a period of maternity leave you will typically not be
deployed on operations and exercises, either overseas or in the UK, for a period of
12 months following the birth of your child – unless you have negotiated differently
with your Career Manager. Once all periods of allowed deferment have finished, you
will become fully liable for the full range of duties including deployments at home
and abroad.
Where both parents are serving, the RAF will endeavour not to deploy serving
parents of dependent children at the same time where this does not affect
operational capability.
I have returned to work after maternity leave, but I don’t like leaving my child.
Do I have to terminate my service in the usual way?
Yes. On return from maternity leave you must complete 12 months’ return of service.
I have decided not to return to duty after having my baby. Am I still
entitled to take maternity leave before I leave the Service?
Yes, you are entitled to the same amount of maternity leave as you would be if
you were not leaving the Service. The amount of leave will be determined on your
length of service. There is a table in the main body of this booklet that explains
your entitlements.
I have decided not to return to duty after having my baby.
Am I still entitled to maternity pay before I leave the Service?
If you remain in the Service until the 15th week before the week your baby is due
you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), depending on your length
of service. There is a table in the main body of this booklet that explains your
30 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Am I entitled to any resettlement options if I choose to
leave the Service on the grounds of pregnancy?
You are entitled to resettlement in accordance with JSP 534. Contact your Unit
Resettlement Advisor for any guidance in this area.
I am a single Servicewoman, what housing am I entitled to?
3 months prior to your expected date of childbirth, as a single Servicewoman you are
entitled to occupy Service Families Accommodation (SFA), although you may retain
Single Service Accommodation (SSA) if you prefer. You will only pay single charges
up until the date of childbirth, upon which the standard SFA charges will apply for as
long as you remain in the SFA.
Do I get any financial help with child care?
Not directly, however your Unit PSF staffs will be able to provide advice on your
eligibility for the Armed Forces Childcare Voucher Scheme6. As a Service parent you
are responsible for making your own arrangements with childcare and meeting the
costs involved so you should also investigate your eligibility for Tax credits and other
benefits through the Direct Gov website.
The RAF will endeavour not to deploy both Service parents (where applicable) at the
same time where this does not affect operational capability. Should issues arise with
child care after you have returned from maternity, you are advised to discuss this with
your line management as soon as possible.
Many units have commercial crèches and nurseries on their premises, or nearby.
In general, however, there is a high demand for places in nurseries and for
childminders that can lead to long waiting lists. You should start investigating your
options and making preliminary arrangements for childcare as early as possible.
HIVEs maintain lists of local nurseries and crèches which may assist you. Do not wait
until after your child is born.
7 This is an NHS publication providing vital information on becoming a parent; taking care of yourself and your child; and on
finding practical help and support.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 31
Am I entitled to any benefits?
Yes, there are various benefits to which families with young children are entitled, and
additional benefits to which you may be entitled. Rules change from time to time,
so it is always worth checking. In addition, there are a number of voluntary
organisations that are happy to provide advice and support, many of which are listed
in this booklet. You can also ask your midwife or health visitor, and/or consult the
free literature (‘Birth to Five’7) that is provided by the NHS and given to all
pregnant women.
What rights do I have if I have a stillbirth, a miscarriage or an abortion?
If your baby is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, you will have exactly the same
rights to leave and pay had your baby been born alive. In very rare cases, a woman
may have to terminate her pregnancy after 24 weeks. In this instance, it would be
treated in the same way as a stillbirth and the same maternity rights apply. If your
baby is born alive but dies soon after you have given birth, you are also entitled to all
the same rights to pay and leave as if your baby had lived.
If you experience a miscarriage or terminate a pregnancy before 24 weeks, then you
are not entitled to any of the maternity rights. You are, however, entitled to the same
access to the RAF’s normal sickness and/or compassionate procedures. If you should
find yourself in this situation, make contact with your line management as soon as
you are able.
What other options are available to Service parents?
The RAF recognises the importance of family life and there are a number of options
available to help personnel achieve a better balance between work and home
commitments. These include paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave and time
off for dependents. Additionally, details of arrangements for working non-standard
working hours can be found in 2005DIN02-012.
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What happens when I return to duty?
Before you can return to duty you should make an appointment with your Medical
Officer for a Return to Work assessment. The Medical Officer will give you a JMES
which will either certify you as fit to return to work (under full or reduced duties) or
suggest that you need further time to recover from childbirth. At this appointment
you should also discuss with the Medical Officer your exemption from fitness tests for
6 months. Once you have received the required medical chit for exemption (FMed
566), on your return to work you should present this to Unit PEd staffs who will be
able to update JPA accordingly.
I have chosen to apply for, or have been selected, for redundancy while
I am on maternity leave. What monies will I have to pay back?
None. Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of Oct 2010
and the announcement that there would be a reduction in the number of people
serving in the RAF, the decision was taken that those Servicewomen who are on
maternity leave when the redundancy tranches are announced, will not be liable for
any financial payback. This is regardless of whether the Servicewoman is an applicant
or a non-applicant. On no account will a Servicewoman be selected for redundancy
solely on the grounds that she is pregnant or has recently given birth.
Will I be able to breast feed on returning to duty?
For some new mothers the opportunity to continue breastfeeding, either wholly
or partially, after returning to work will influence the timing of their return to work.
The Service will do what it can to provide private and clean facilities for nursing
mothers, and time for breast feeding. While overcoming the practical difficulties can
be considerable, you should be prepared to discuss this matter openly with your line
manager if it is important to you.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 33
Further Reading
2005DIN02-012 – Released Mar 05: Guidelines for Managing Non Standard
Working Hours for Members of the Armed Forces.
2011DIN01-115 – Released Apr 11: Revised Maternity Arrangements for
Servicewomen in the Regular Armed Forces
2011DIN01-037 – Released Feb 11: The Introduction of Additional Paternity/
Adoption Leave and Pay for Members of the Regular Armed Forces
JSP 760 – Regulations for Leave and Other Types of Absence (Maternity Leave
Chpt 20, Career Breaks Chpt 18, Special Unpaid Leave Chpt 17)
JSP 534 – Regulations for Resettlement Procedure
Leaflet 36 to JSP 375 – The MOD Health and Safety Handbook
JSP 346 – PULHEEMS: A Joint Service System of Medical Classification
AP 3392 Vol 2 Lflt 1721
AP 1269 – Medical Management and Administration
AP 1269A – RAF Manual of Medical Fitness
The UK Servicewomen’s Guide to Health and Performance
The Work and Families Act 2006
34 | Service Woman’s Booklet
Maternity Glossary
Armed Forces Occupational Maternity Scheme: an enhanced
pay element paid to you by the RAF in addition to SMP.
Additional Maternity Leave: a 26 – week period of leave that
can follow on from Ordinary Maternity Leave.
Prior to birth.
Additional Paternity Leave: a period of up to 26 weeks’ leave
that can be taken by a Service father after the mother has
returned to work following OML.
Additional Paternity Leave and Pay.
Additional Statutory Paternity Pay.
Compulsory Maternity Leave: it is a legal requirement
that you do not work for at least 2 weeks from the date
of giving birth.
Flexible Working Arrangements: a temporary change to
working hours or Service that is agreed between the line
management and Service person.
Expected Week of Childbirth: the week, beginning at
midnight between Saturday and Sunday, in which it is
expected that your baby will be born (as notified on your
MATB1 by your medical advisor).
Keeping In Touch: A maximum of 10 days, during
your maternity leave, on which you may attend work
(by arrangement with your line manager), which will not
bring your maternity leave to an end.
Maternity Allowance: paid by the State (subject to certain
conditions), to any Servicewoman who is not entitled to SMP.
Certificate confirming the date the baby is due, provided by
midwife or doctor.
Service Woman’s Booklet | 35
When a baby is born dead before the 24th week
of pregnancy.
Maternity Pay Period: the period (of up to 39 weeks) during
which the SMP is paid.
Ordinary Maternity Leave: a period of 26 weeks leave to
which all Servicewomen are entitled.
Paternity Leave
A period of up to 2 weeks’ leave for spouses/partners
(including same sex partners) after the baby’s birth.
After the birth.
Qualifying Period
The fixed period of time during which a Servicewoman must
have worked, to be eligible for certain benefits.
Qualifying Week: the week during which you must have been
employed by the Service to qualify for statutory maternity
pay. The qualifying week is 15 weeks before the EWC.
Return of Service.
Service Family Accommodation.
Statutory Maternity Leave.
Statutory Maternity Pay: paid to you by the RAF on behalf of
the State, provided you satisfy certain qualifying conditions.
Single Service Accommodation.
When the baby is born dead after the 24th week
of pregnancy.
Pregnancy is divided in to three stages: the first trimester weeks 1 to 12, second trimester - weeks 13 to 26 and third
trimester - weeks 27 to 40.
Produced by Air Media Centre, HQ Air Command. 0130_11LAL
© UK MOD Crown Copyright, 2011
36 | Service Woman’s Booklet