Starting in April pregnant Marines will finally be able to purchase better fitting maternity uniforms.
The Corps has added adjustable tabs to the current service uniform maternity tunic and maternity khaki shirt.
“I really like the addition of the tabs to the tunic because it makes the item more adjustable depending on where you are in your pregnancy,” Maj. Calleen Kinney, who works in the Educational Wargaming department at Marine Corps University on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, said in a press release. “It is more fitted and more flattering in appearance than the previous version.”
The major was one of the first Marines to try out the new uniform.
In its new policy, the Marine Corps listed breast milk production as one of the many factors leading to the change.
In addition to the service uniform changes the Corps will make maternity and nursing undershirts available by the end of April.
The maternity shirt comes with a “ruching element,” meant to increase comfort and ease of use during pregnancy, while the nursing shirt has a “cross-over design under a panel” that gives Marine moms easy access for pumping or nursing, the press release said.
“I think this nursing shirt is a great product,” Maj. Elena N. Vallely, a team lead for Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps at Marine Corps System Command, said in the release.
Vallely got to try out the new shirt in March.
“As both a mother and Marine, I think it’s important for Marines to have options that enables them to both nurse and look professional while wearing the utility uniform,” she added.
The Marine Corps is currently working on creating physical training shorts for pregnant women that will be capable of growing throughout the pregnancy.
New shorts are expected to come out in the first quarter of fiscal year 2022, the release said.
Also coming in 2022 will be dress blue slacks and skirts designed for pregnant women, while a dress blue coat is still in “preliminary” talks, the release said.
The uniform changes have been in the works since a September 2019 Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service report on the need for better maternity uniforms in the Marine Corps.
“DACOWITS wrote a paper that went to Congress and each individual leader of the services chimed in,” Miguel Reis, the uniform certification analyst at Marine corps Systems Command, said in the press release on the uniform changes. “Then, in 2019, we had a meeting with the [assistant commandant of the Marine Corps], which led to the initiation of these efforts.”
To help create these uniforms the Corps has worked in a formal partnership with the Air Force since 2019, along with consultation with the Army and Navy.
“Working with other services presents a number of benefits, including the advantage of not having to start from scratch,” Reis said in the press release.
“We were able to learn, share information and accelerate the process, which allows Marines to access these improved maternity items in a shorter time frame.”