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Air Force Unveils New Maternity Airman Battle Uniform

The Air Force Uniform Office, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH., has released the newest version of the Maternity Airman Battle Uniforms. (Screen grab from Air Force video by Airman 1st Class Jean-Paul Arnaud-Marquez)
The Air Force Uniform Office, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH., has released the newest version of the Maternity Airman Battle Uniforms. (Screen grab from Air Force video by Airman 1st Class Jean-Paul Arnaud-Marquez)

Expectant moms in the Air Force should be a little more comfortable in the service's brand-new maternity airman battle uniform, unveiled Wednesday.

The MABU has numerous improvements, such as an adjusted fit to the chest, lower leg pockets and hip pockets, according to a release.

In one major improvement, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Air Force Uniform Office changed the pants' plain elastic waistband to a full stretch panel that allows for greater flexibility as the pregnancy progresses, the release said.

"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, program manager for the Uniform Office, as well as an expectant mother and user of the new maternity ABU.

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The AFLCM team worked to create an almost identical uniform to the standard ABU, Harrison said in the release.

"The new maternity ABU coats have flaps on the chest, a pencil pocket, adjustable side tabs -- and there is more room in the front," added Stacey Butler, a clothing designer with the Air Force Uniform Office.

"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 else," Butler said.

The uniforms are available for purchase at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) website.

The service is mulling more widespread uniform changes, such as improved flight suits for both men and women, as well as potentially moving to an all Operational Camouflage Pattern.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein in October hinted that women's uniforms may get an upgrade.

"It's beyond OCPs, by the way. It's about [dress] blues; it's about women's uniforms," he said during an all-hands briefing with airmen at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

"Women suffer in silence on many of the uniforms that don't fit. And they've never fit," Goldfein said. "The amount of money that women are spending altering essentially a men's uniform to fit a female frame is unsatisfactory. So we're going to get at this."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.