Today I was privileged to meet with a Lt. Shelburne (USN), who by chance picked up a copy of my book when she was near to quitting breastfeeding her little boy after her return to duty. She found the information she needed to get her milk supply back up, but she also found the desire to help other pregnant and breastfeeding mothers at her command be successful as well. I met with the Lt. because she has been working tirelessly over the past few months to create a Lactation/Pumping room at her command for herself and the 6 other pregnant or breastfeeding moms (some of whom were also close to quitting). She has been successful in not only creating a wonderful lactation room (more on that in a few), but she also has managed to have her command order a Symphony pump for the room! By far the most important piece is that she has written a command-wide policy that outlines, step-by-step what pregnant moms, the supply officer, the XO and CO, and the command are required to do and provide for breastfeeding moms at the command. Having this policy in place at the local level means that when Lt. Shelburne rotates out to a new command, the program won’t fall apart…it is set-up for the next person to take over. As I left today the CO was set to sign the policy into place.
Back to the room, it is about 10×10 with 4 tables and chairs, a locking door (with assigned keys,) a shower curtain blocking the door so when the door opens the moms are ‘hidden’, a refrigerator, TV, clock, water dispenser, hand-sanitizer, plenty of outlets, reading material, a bulletin board with photos of the mom’s babies, a clock and a radio. It is cozy, but the moms like it as they can chat and socialize (which by the way helps with milk production…oxytocin is released when women are together, increasing milk supply for all in the room!) Outside the room, in the hallway, is a large bulletin board with handouts, copies of the OPNAVINST 6000.1C and other useful breastfeeding information.
I’ve said before that successful breastfeeding in the military relies on two very important items: information and support. With support from the top down being paramount in the hierarchal structure that is the military. This command lactation room and policy is a prime example of the support that is so needed…Lt. Shelburne has been the catalyst for getting the room set-up and the policy written and in place…but she also has the full backing and support of the XO and CO of her command. It is apparent in talking with the enlisted personnel at the command who are using the room, that having this support, from the top down, has been integral to their success.
I applaud Lt. Shelburne for her initiative, drive and determination to see this Lactation room to it’s completion, and hope that this can be both an inspiration and a template for other commands to follow suit in creating their own rooms and policies in the future!