As part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the DOD is conducting a pilot program to issue pregnant service members free temporary maternity uniforms that they can use and return for re-issue.
The goal is to see if a maternity uniform loan program is cheaper than providing each pregnant service member with a maternity clothing allowance to purchase their maternity uniforms.
The 2021 NDAA was approved in December 2020. It requires each service to report its findings no later than Sept. 30, 2025, and then determine whether or not to extend the pilot program past the current end date of 2026.
Here’s a brief overview of current maternity uniform policies for each U.S. service branch.
Army Maternity Uniforms
Pregnant Army soldiers do not receive a maternity uniform allowance, according to Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).
Instead, officers and enlisted soldiers receive maternity work uniforms as part of their OCIE equipment supply. Soldiers must ask their health care provider to initiate a request for maternity uniforms, then turn it into CIF (their central issuing facility).
Pregnant soldier work uniforms are available at all central issue facilities. According to DACOWITS, soldiers in remote areas can order maternity uniforms online or drive to their nearest issuing facility. Online delivery takes 3-7 days in most cases.
The process is different for service uniforms.
According to the U.S. Army website, commissioned officers who need maternity service dress uniforms must purchase their own. Enlisted soldiers can request one with a DA Form 3078 “Personal Clothing Request” signed by their unit’s commander. The request should include all the items needed for issue and a copy of the soldier’s pregnancy profile.
Enlisted soldiers can then take the request packet to the closest AAFES to get their new uniform items. The Army will only issue soldiers one maternity service uniform every three years. If you become pregnant again after three years, you can request a new uniform.
Soldiers’ doctors determine how long a soldier can wear the maternity uniform postpartum, taking size and comfort level into account.
Navy Maternity Uniforms
Sailors can apply for a maternity allowance with approval from their commanding officer, according to DACOWITS. But, the allowance applies to enlisted sailors only, and officers are not entitled to a maternity allowance.
The maternity uniform clothing allowance covers essential uniforms based on each sailor’s uniform requirements.
Maternity uniforms are available at some base uniform stores. Sailors can also order uniforms by calling the Navy Exchange uniform support number at 1-800–368–4088. Delivery takes 7-10 days, but express shipping is available if required.
According to Navy regulations, sailors can wear regular uniforms upon returning from maternity leave or continue to wear maternity uniforms for up to six months after their delivery date with a doctor’s diagnosis or recommendation.
Navy Maternity Uniform Pilot Program
Pregnant active-duty and reserve sailors with medical documentation and command approval can apply for the pilot program on the MyNavy HR website.
If selected as a study participant, sailors will receive “a full array of authorized Navy maternity uniforms” to use for up to 12 months according to a Navy administrative message. After a year, sailors must return the uniforms for re-issue to another pregnant sailor.
Marine Corps Maternity Uniforms
Enlisted Marines are entitled to a maternity uniform allowance. Officers do not receive an allowance.
According to Marine Corps policy, pregnant Marines must notify their command of their pregnancy within two weeks of receiving confirmation from a healthcare provider.
Marines work with their commanders to identify and request an allowance for their required maternity uniform items. Requests must include a pregnancy certificate.
A standard maternity uniform allowance covers maternity service uniforms. Additional maternity allowances can cover MARPAT work uniform maternity blouses or trousers in woodland or desert patterns.
Maternity uniforms are available at most large Marine Corps exchanges, or if they’re out of stock, Marines can special order them from the exchange. Delivery time usually takes 7-10 days.
According to DACOWITS, Marines are expected to wear regular uniforms when they return from maternity leave. However, Marines with a doctor’s recommendation may wear maternity uniforms for up to six months, at their commander’s discretion.
Air Force Maternity Uniforms
According to DACOWITS, pregnant enlisted airmen can receive a maternity uniform allowance. Commissioned Air Force officers are not eligible for assistance.
The allowance is added to the member’s next leave and earnings statement after approval. Airmen can only get a maternity uniform once every three years. Airmen who become pregnant more than once during this timeframe must use the same maternity uniforms.
Maternity uniforms are available at AAFES stores or express shipped from Lackland military clothing store, delivered in 1-2 days.
Service members can wear maternity uniforms up to six months after delivery. Air Force policy does not require doctor’s or command approval for postpartum wear.
Coast Guard Maternity Uniforms
After entering their second trimester, pregnant Coast Guardsmen can submit an enlisted supplementary clothing allowance worksheet (CG- 5155A) to their personnel office, according to Coast Guard policy.
Commanding Officers/Officers in Charge may also authorize appropriate civilian attire when no uniform equivalent or maternity uniforms no longer fit comfortably.
According to DACOWITS, Coast Guardsmen can wear maternity uniforms during pregnancy and up to 60 days after returning from maternity leave.
Maternity uniforms are available through the Coast Guard Uniform Distribution Center (UDC). If ordering online, delivery usually takes 7-10 days.
Where to Buy Cheap Maternity Uniforms
If you’re an officer who must purchase your maternity uniforms or you need extra maternity uniform items, you can still save some money. Here are some options for free, used or discounted maternity uniforms.
- Uniform Trading Company has a wide selection of gently used Army and Navy uniforms at 50-70% savings. Check online or visit the company’s store in Bremerton, Washington to see if they have maternity uniforms in your size. Uniform Trading Company carries current issue military uniforms on consignment, so inventory changes frequently.
- Base thrift stores are a great place to find bargains of all kinds, including maternity uniforms. Hours and merchandise vary by location, and you’ll need a military ID to shop. Thrift store inventory depends on donations, so if you’re near more than one base thrift store, consider making the trip to see other stores’ inventory.
- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers several society thrift shops and uniform banks. If you don’t leave near a relief society thrift shop or uniform bank, call to see if they will ship items in your size to you.
- Check out military surplus stores near you. Inventory frequently changes at such shops, but if you’re lucky you could find a gently used maternity uniform at a considerable discount.
- Facebook Marketplace and military-specific social media groups like the Navy Uniform Buy, Sell, Trade group, are also worth checking out. If you’re a member of a women’s forum on social media, consider asking your group if anyone has uniforms to spare.