Marine Corps Deploys New Nursing Shirt, Blue Items Maternity Dress

The complaints of future Marines have finally been heard.

The Marine Corps is releasing the start of a series of new uniform items designed to be more useful and better suited to pregnant and nursing Marines, officials said this week.

New items, including maternity and nursing undershirts and a service uniform blouse with adjustable side tabs, will be available for purchase from Marine Corps Exchanges starting this month, Marine Corps Systems Command or MCSC, officials said in a statement Wednesday. Other maternity uniform components, including PT shorts, a blue skirt and pants, and possibly a blue jacket, are also on the way, officials said.

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Existing Marine Corps maternity items include a shapeless, tent-like service tunic in drab olive and a non-adjustable khaki service shirt; Pregnant Marines are known to slip into their regular uniforms for months to avoid wearing them.

The Marine Corps Uniform Board and Deputy Commander General Gary Thomas provided feedback to the MCSC in October 2019, and the updated and amended items were approved by Commander General David Berger in June 2020, officials said.

The new green “skivvy shirts” are designed for form and function. According to the statement, the maternity shirt “includes a gathered element on the side seams, providing comfort, shape and ease of use during pregnancy.” It’s also expandable enough to stay portable for all three quarters.

The Nursing Shirt has a “cross under a panel design” which allows a sailor to breastfeed or pump during the working day with added convenience.

Major Calleen Kinney provides her assessment of the Marine Corps’ modified maternity uniform, March 4, 2021, aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. (Tonya Smith / US Marines)

Major Elena N. Vallely, team leader for the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps, said in the statement that she evaluated the nurse’s shirt in March and found it “a great product.”

“As a mom and a Marine, I think it’s important for Marines to have options that allow them to both breastfeed and look professional while wearing the utility uniform,” said she declared.

While all items remain optional, the new maternity shirt will be included in the maternity clothing allowance, meaning the Marines won’t have to pay for it out of pocket.

The PT Maternity Shorts are yet to come in the maternity clothing rollout, designed to stretch around a growing pregnant belly. They are still in development, officials said, but are expected to be certified this fall and go on sale soon after.

And in 2022, pregnant Marines will be able to purchase a maternity version of the blue skirt dress and sky blue pants. MCSC spokeswoman Kelly Flynn declined to provide with further details on the blue clothing, noting that designs for a jacket are pre-decisive. Photographs released by the Marine Corps show a blue coat mockup that features a cutaway design, allowing the coat to retain its fitted appearance with a looser underlay covering the belly.

Major Desiree Sanchez, deputy director of the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, recalls struggling to attend official events while pregnant in 2019.

“I remember an event where we had to wear our blue dress and I couldn’t fit into that uniform,” she said in the statement.

Flynn told that in addition to the blue coat, the Marine Corps strives to develop better utility pants, skirts and slacks for the maternity service.

“These articles have no dates scheduled at the moment,” she said.

The updated Marine Corps uniforms follow the movements of other services to better meet the needs of pregnant servicemen. Army officials said last November that the service’s uniform board was considering updating its standard, gown-like maternity service uniform; the Air Force decided to purchase maternity coveralls for the first time in its history last June.

Marine Corps officials said this new series of articles is intended to support Berger’s goal of improving recruitment and retention by better meeting the uniform and equipment needs of Marines.

“The population of future Marines may be small,” Lucinda Stocks, MCSC program analyst, Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment, said in a statement. “But the development of these maternity uniforms is important to the future of the Marine Corps.”

– Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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