Odd Question

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    Hi All,

    I was talking to my friend about trying to get a job down on the ice. I was showing her the gigapan of McMurdo when she suddenly asked, “What if someone got pregnant down there?” and I didn’t have an answer. Has there ever been a child born down on the ice before? Do they just try to fly someone out before winter starts?

    I figured I would post and get her an answer 😳



    There have been no children born at American stations. The Argentines and Chileans have had children born at their stations on King George Island (see this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica (it is rather long, search it for “children”). A few more children were born at the South Georgia whaling station, which is north of 60°S and not technically in Antarctic Treaty territory.

    As for pregnancies, I can’t speak for McMurdo or Palmer, although I suspect that a few people who wintered at these stations may have given birth to children less than 9 months after they left the ice.

    I can say that one of the first women to winter at Pole in the early 1980s DID become pregnant, in a personal effort to achieve that historical first about which you inquired.

    But she got the calendar a bit wrong, and the Navy medevaced her in a hyperbaric chamber. That is history. Obviously I know more than I care to say here or put on my web site.


    Pregnancies happen on a regular basis. In the summer when the contract period is 4 to 6 months, the person is just flown out. No problem, only the person’s friends know. A few winters back we had a husband and wife who got pregnant. The station is closed from Feb to August, so she did the bulk of her pregnancy there. She was getting very pregnant looking by Winfly in August when they went out on the first plane. In the end, we never go more than 6 months without having airplane flights. My guess if a winterover got pregnant the previous summer and hid the fact before station close, the NSF would authorize an expensive early winfly medivac flight rather than take the chances of something going wrong with the birth.

    Been There

    Due to the limited medical facilities available, long distances from full service hospitals and concern about complications, pregnagancy is a disqualifying condition. Any individual that becomes pregnant and makes themsevles know to medical is NPQ’d. Certainly a problem since good medical care in the first trimester is important to both mother and child but some individuals don’t go to medical since they know they will be NPQ’d. In some cases both individuals responsible for the pregnancy departed the program together, which seems right to me.

    Births at the other stations might be linked to territorial claims but the Antarctic Treaty clearly states that nothing done during the period of the treaty will add to nor detract from a nations right to make a claim.

    Would like to be in on the conversation over a beer with Sciencetech and Skua77 but it is not really something that should be discussed. It is a private matter, in my opinion.



    I totally agree that it is a private matter, I wasn’t looking for specific personal stories full of drama. 😉

    My friend was fairly surprised that it happens on a regular basis, but then again, she was also pretty shocked to learn that people live in Antarctica by choice!


    I just hope that if I get down, i don’t get pregnant.


    Spidey, stay away from the sauna between 10 and 11 pm on Mondays 🙂

    Yes, I agree that the details are a private matter.

    And as Mike noted, the normal isolation periods for Palmer and McMurdo are less than 9 months so there is an opportunity to get the person out before complications can develop.

    That bit of Pole history I mentioned happened more than 25 years ago, long before NSF devised the use of Twin Otters to medevac people from Pole during midwinter -90 temps if need be.

    But it is a bit of Pole history…perhaps a relic of the absurd 1970’s idea that it was time to have a great experiment and have A WOMAN (or maybe 2) winter at Pole. Fortunately that era is behind us and we have a “somewhat” more normal population mix.

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