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Lynne Doucette

Lynne Doucette

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) PD. Prior to being the first female promoted at BPD, she worked as an undercover detective assigned to the state narcotics task force.



Patricia Teinert

Patricia Teinert

Patricia A. Teinert has been a Texas peace officer since 1984. She has served as a patrol officer, investigator, and member of a juvenile gang and narcotics task force. She is currently a patrol officer with Katy ISD Police Department.
Women in Law Enforcement

How To Deal With Pregnancy In Law Enforcement

Follow these tips to effectively handle the changes that come with pregnancy.

June 11, 2013  |  by Jenna Underwood-Nunez

Photo courtesy of Jenna Underwood-Nunez.
Photo courtesy of Jenna Underwood-Nunez.
Being a female in law enforcement has its challenges. Being a pregnant female in law enforcement is its own unique animal. I'm here to try and answer a few of your questions or at least give you some advice to make it easier.

When I was in the uniform store last month picking up my maternity uniform shirt, a male officer looked at me strangely and finally said, "I didn't know they let women work when they were pregnant. I've never seen a pregnant deputy before." I looked at him, smiled, and said "Well, now you have, sir!"

I get all kinds of reactions from fellow officers—some positive, some negative. I definitely get a lot of looks, perhaps because I wear my shirt un-tucked from my pants. They're not sure whether to say congratulations or "I'm sorry you're gaining weight."

There will always be those people who think because you're pregnant you're somehow unable to function in the workplace. They treat you as if you have some sort of disability or communicable disease. My favorite comeback is, "I'm not disabled, silly. I'm pregnant. There's a difference."

This is my third pregnancy while working in law enforcement. When I was pregnant with my first child, I immediately placed myself on light-duty status and was removed from my work assignment. I was left with so many questions. Where do I get uniforms that will fit? How much time can I take off? When I got one question answered, I asked two more.

First off, if you're planning to get pregnant, be sure to sign up for private disability insurance. Yes, it will cost you money every month, but it will be well worth it in the end. You won't regret having it when the time comes. If your department is anything like mine, you'll only be paid for the time you have on the books. If you're low on time and don't have private disability insurance, prepare to go unpaid.

Find out the policy on pregnancy in your unit and department. They may require notification as soon as you confirm the pregnancy with your doctor. Others like mine require it later in the pregnancy (eight months). Next, you'll want to talk to the pay-and-leave department and request your FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) paperwork. While you're there, ask them what other paperwork they require, such as memos and submission of time-off requests for how you want to use your time (sick, vacation, and holiday).

After that, you'll want to find out if there is a policy covering how you wear your uniform during the pregnancy. The easiest and cheapest way is to use your class "B" uniform. You can go to any of your favorite uniform stores and have them add fabric to your own class "B" shirt. Doing this will allow you to save money and not buy a whole new maternity shirt—it costs about $20 to add fabric and $50-$60 to buy a new shirt.

The most uncomfortable thing for me was the pants. If you don't need to wear your belt—meaning you're on light or restricted duty—you don't have to wear your gun belt or your work admin fields. You can just invest in a belly band, which you can buy for $20 at Target. That way, you don't have to buy another pair of pants. If you're still required to wear your gear, invest in a bigger belt and bigger pants so you can wear your waist line under your belly. This is way more comfortable! You'll also be able to hide it for quite a while, if you wear your jacket. Just be prepared for the questions, especially during summer.

Remember, you and your child's safety are top priority, so only do what you're comfortable with and what is safe. That was the hardest part for me. I'm a busy body and I often react without thinking. You never want to take that chance with your child. Your job and your ego can wait until delivery—no need to be a hot shot while prego.

In closing, just do the best you can do. Pregnancy is one of those times in your life where everything is changing. If it's your first child, it's all so new. Talk to your fellow female officers. Above all, just take it one day at a time.

Related:

Pregnancy and Policing

Tags: Women's Uniforms, How-To Guides, Light Duty, Off-Duty Life


Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

Megan @ 6/17/2013 1:06 PM

Though I like your positive approach to this topic, I must say as a female officer who has been pregnant twice while employed with my department, I am very glad that I never had to wear a maternity uniform. It not only looks ridiculous and but it honestly poses a liability issue. Pregnant female officers should go out on light/modified duty when they feel ready...that is the PC thing to say. The truth she should go out on light assignment sooner than later in the pregnancy. A pregnant officer is putting herself, her baby, her fellow officers and the public at risk being in uniform. I have seen some women stay in uniform, responding from a patrol car in their 8th month. That is outrageous. Departments need to support pregnant officers and find meaningful law enforcement duties for them to perform until their due date, but pregant officers DO NOT need to be in a uniform and should not be responding in uniform to calls for service. Of course departments hands are tied because of HIPPA and the Disability Act so in the end it is the woman's choice....I just hope most pregant officers make the right choice and that their departments work with them instead of against them.

pteinert @ 6/25/2013 12:31 PM

I agree there is a place in law enforcement agencies for our pregnant officers. However, it is not the departments responsibility to accommodate the pregnant officer above other officers.
I appreciate the tone of this article in that the officer prepared herself mentally and financially for this "bump" in her career. I too had to take the backseat for the months I was off the street for maternity. During my (3) pregnancies I was assigned temporary light duty positions. I did not wear a uniform. I think it draws unnecessary attention to the officer and can place the officer and baby at risk. I further believe this option that a pregnant officer can stay on patrol in uniform if a waiver is signed will only last until the first lawsuit when a baby is injured or killed while "Mom" is on duty. As a female officer I believe I can have it all ... just not all at the same time.

Em @ 6/28/2013 5:37 AM

I have been a police officer for 5 years, having 2 pregnancies early in my career. The first pregnancy, I was told to stay in the office and answer phone calls for patrol as that was my unit. I sat in one room staring at the phones and a computer. People went as far as giving me laminating duties or told me to sharpen pencils. At our department, we are not allowed to drive city vehicles, we have an armed escort if we go anywhere (even though I could still carry), and we are not able to leave the building. One of the officers even had to get a doctor's note to get fresh air and walk outside. My second pregnancy was basically the same with my restrictions, BUT they let me work heavily in the hiring process. I helped with data entry, testings for new officers, even helped with the background process. When I had a meaningful job I still felt a connection with the department and the people I work with. I was able to gain more knowledge rather than sitting and waiting for a phone call report. Simply allowing pregnant officers to still be a cop and contribute to the department goes a long way!!

cmdotson @ 8/11/2013 7:33 AM

This is the best article that I have read on this topic yet. As a 7 year veteran of multiple correctional agencies, I have seen the pregnancy of various female officers handled in multiple fashions, from light duty posts in civilian attire to normal duty posts in maternity uniforms to forced unpaid leave/resignation. This has been a concern of mine as I am a newlywed and this situation will arrise for me one day. I certianly appreciate the advice of this post as there are very few females in my agency to begin with that I can ask for advice.

Compton billy bad *ss @ 8/20/2013 8:27 PM

First off a "custody deputy" is not a uniformed patrol assignment. You book, supervise and transport. You do not go out for calls for service. You women need to stop complaining and be grateful that your getting paid $30 / hr to "sharpen pencils and answer phones." Are you kidding me... Most of you are either going to sue your dept for sexual harassment in 5 yrs or are going to resign for " mommy duties". Am I right guys??
P.S. blonde girl, stop trying to be famous. You should have a talk show if you want it that bad. I'm sure your commander hasn't read this article, or if he/she did your patches are being replaced with baby's r us security guard.

Only reason women work in LE is because the county is still paying the law suit.

DB Jane @ 8/27/2013 1:06 PM

Good article.

Men will always be sexist.

Lisa Conrod @ 10/8/2013 8:36 AM

I was the first pregnant officer in our sheriff department. This was in a time period that law enforcement was a male dominated career. The administration treated me badly. Suddenly they didn't have light duty, accept when a male deputy broke his arm. So I had to work through my 8th month of pregnancy. I took self defense class in my 7th month. The next female pregnant officer was treated better than myself. I was not very happy with the whole situation.

Capt. @ 10/8/2013 9:05 AM

As an Administrator, I can say that treating an employee unfairly due to a pregnancy can't be tolerated. However, why would a department force an employee to wear the uniform while pregnant. that is ridiculous. Once the employee requires a restricted or light duty by their physician, they should be allowed to wear maternity clothes to work. Likewise, Administrators should be supportive in this cherished event of a parent/ employees life. After all, we always preach Family comes before job, Right? Yes, I know first hand how it affects manpower and scheduling....so what. We make accommodations for our employees needs all the time, why would this be different? I guess it is difficult teaching an old dog new tricks. My 2 cents.

darlene vanheste @ 10/8/2013 9:11 AM

Being a retired reserve office for 22 years, I find it hard to see why a mother would want to put her child at risk. If one can not preform his/her duties, because of safety issues, they should be put on light duties, until they can be out in patrol. I sure would not want to put my partner life on the line, for my selifish reasons. Safey First.

VTOL @ 3/4/2014 10:01 AM

This goes to Compton you are probably the over weight police officer who most people could run circles around including a pregnant women

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