WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – New maternity uniforms in the Airman Battle Uniform design, are now available for expecting Airmen.
Designed and developed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Air Force Uniform Office, the uniforms provide a level of comfort, fit and utility not previously available to pregnant Airmen.
Some of the feedback the Air Force received about the previous maternity ABUs – which led to the creation of the new uniform – was that they were restrictive and uncomfortable, forcing Airmen to cut the elastic in the waistband of the slacks to relieve pressure and then use safety pins to keep them in place, said Stacey Butler, a clothing designer with the Air Force Uniform Office.
“I had a couple of women tell me that they took traditional non-maternity ABU slacks, got a belly band from a store, went to a seamstress and had them cut and sewn for custom maternity slacks” said Capt. Taylor Harrison, the program manager for the Uniform Office, an expecting mother and user of the new maternity ABU.
Harrison went on to add that often Airmen would take the more expensive route and buy multiple uniforms throughout their pregnancy.
Some of the features of the new uniform include an improved stretch panel that allows for greater flexibility in the slacks as the pregnancy progresses. Participants have shared with the team that the new maternity ABU slacks stretch panel feels and fits like the commercial products in the retail market.
“The new maternity ABU coats have flaps on the chest, a pencil pocket, adjustable side tabs and there is more room in the front,” said Butler. “The new maternity ABU slacks have a full stretch panel at the waist, standard lower leg pockets and hip pockets. On the previous uniform, the pockets were small and appeared different than everyone (non-maternity ABUs) else.”
In addition to improving comfort, some of the feedback the office received was that pregnant Airmen wanted to look like other Airmen, so the team worked to match the new uniform to non-maternity ABUs.
“We are very proud of this program,” Butler said. “I’m not an active-duty Airmen, but I would much rather be comfortable while I’m working than uncomfortable. To hear that military women were not comfortable, I wanted to be part of continuous improvements of the uniform. One individual who tried the new uniform said that she could sleep in it because it was so comfortable. Another said that when she comes home she sometimes forgets to change into her civilian clothes because it’s that comfortable.”