WBW 2015: Let’s Make It Work (in the Military)

WBW - 2015It’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) which runs every year from Aug 1-7 and this year’s theme is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work”. World Breastfeeding Week is a chance to highlight the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies.  This year the focus is on encouraging everyone to understand needs of working women who are breastfeeding by highlighting three key pillars that are integral to success: time, space, and support.

Due to the unique challenges that military women face I’ve changed this years theme to “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work in the Military” here at Breastfeeding in Combat Boots.  So what are some ways the military is promoting breastfeeding and work? What is the military offering in the way of time, space and success? What are some ways that women are making it work in the military?

Time

  • Ideally women would have six months paid maternity leave postnatally to support exclusive breastfeeding.  In the military however only the Navy and Marine Corps come even sort of close to that goal with 18 weeks of paid maternity leave.  The Air Force, Army and Coast Guard each offer only 6 weeks of maternity leave. 
  • All of the services, with the exception of the Army, offer one or more paid breastfeeding breaks per policy.
  • Some commands offer flexible work hours (such as shorter work week, part-time, telecommuting) to breastfeed or to express breastmilk, most however do not.  
  • It is a fact that for some women in the military, time to breastfeed/pump is very limited and might be only be 10 minutes between flight ops, once during a busy shift in the ER, or between qualifying rounds on the range.


Space

  • Some military commands offer child development centers at or near the workplace with the option for mothers to be breastfeed their babies.
  • All of the services, with the exception of the Army, offer or should offer, private facilities for expressing and storing milk. According to the various policies it can be a dedicated breastfeeding room or any safe, private space at or near the work site. Some of the policies state that it should not be a bathroom, and must have electricity, running water, and a locking door.  
  • It is a fact that for some moms in the military, space to breastfeed/pump might be a storage closet, in the back of a C-17, or in the corner of a tent in the field.


Support

  • All military mothers should have access to information about national maternity laws, as well as the specific maternity and breastfeeding policies provided by their branch of the military, and in some cases, command-level policies.
  • All military mothers should have support from their commands.  That means support from the commanding officer all the way down to her coworkers.  This support should include positive attitudes towards pregnancy, motherhood, and breastfeeding/pumping in uniform.
  • Education, information, and training should be available to the new mom, and also to her co-workers and supervisors, about how to breastfeed in the military and why it is important to both her own and her child’s health, but also to the command.
  • Breastfeeding mothers in the military need support in the form of one-on-one help, a support group, or a virtual community where they can ask for and receive help and encouragement when needed.
  • Mothers in the military have job security, but they should not face any discrimination (in the form of bad evals/fitreps) on the grounds of maternity and breastfeeding.
  • It is a fact that for many mothers in the military, there is no military-wide policy at all let alone a command-level policy. Nor do most commands offer supportive, positive attitudes from co-workers and supervisors, training and education on breastfeeding, or any type of support group.  Instead moms find their information and support outside the military.

 

WBW 2015

Making It Work in the Military

There are a lot of ‘should’ the paragraphs above.  Clearly not all of the branches of the military are as supportive as others.  And even if there is a policy, it is not always enforced at the command level.  Given all of that some might think that the military is the last workplace that women could be successful at breastfeeding, but you would be wrong! Just this week the BFinCB Facebook Page surpassed 10,000 Fans!  That is over 10,000 women who have found support, encouragement and information to continue breastfeeding while serving in the military.  That is 10,000 women who have found the Time, Space and Support at their workplaces to continue to breastfeed/pump while serving in the military. They are Making It Work in the Military! (You can also view the Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work – Military Album to see photos of moms in the military pumping and breastfeeding).  I asked the moms on the Page to do a ‘roll call’ and state where they are posted/stationed at and how long they have been breastfeeding. I received an overwhelming response.  These moms have, on average, been breastfeeding from 2 weeks to well over 2 years at military installations all over the world including:

  • MCAS Futenma, Japan
  • NAF Misawa, Japan
  • Osan AB, South Korea
  • NATO AB Geigenkirchen, Germany
  • Aviano Air Base, Italy
  • Ramstien AB, Germany
  • Naval Station Rota, Spain
  • RAF Middenhall, England
  • RAF Lakenheath, England
  • FE Warren AFB, WY
  • March AFB, CA
  • Army Reserve Center, PA
  • Vandenburg AFB, CA
  • Anderson AFB, Guam
  • Hanscom AFB, MA
  • Edwards AFB, CA
  • Ft Stewart, GA
  • USCG Marine Safety Center, VA
  • MCB Hawaii
  • MCAS Mirimar, CA
  • Travis AFB, CA
  • Ft. Bragg, NC
  • NB Kitsap, WA
  • JB Elmendorf-Richardson, AK
  • Luke AFB, AZ
  • NAS North Island, CA
  • NS San Diego, CA
  • Hill AFB, UT
  • Robins AFB, GA
  • Scott AFB, IL
  • Eglin AFB, FL
  • Holloman AFB, NM
  • JB Lewis-McChord, WA
  • Ft Sill, OK
  • Ft. Benning, GA
  • Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • JB Ancostia-Bolling, DC
  • Tripler AMC, HI
  • Ft Irwin, CA
  • Ft. Riley, KS
  • NOB Norfolk, VA
  • Ft. Belvior, VA
  • Ft Wainwright, AK
  • Tyndall AFB, FL
  • Ft Harrison, MT
  • Ft Bliss, TX
  • Maxwell AFB, AL
  • Peterson AFB, CO
  • JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI
  • NAS Oceana, VA
  • Ft Chafee, AR
  • NSA Bethesda/Walter Reed, MD
  • Ft Gordon, GA
  • Ft Sam Houston, TX
  • JB McGuire-Dix, NJ
  • Langely AFB, VA
  • Creech AFB, NV
  • Dyess AFB, TX
  • Ft Drum, NY
  • JB Andrews, DC
  • Naval War College, RI
  • NAS/JRB Ft Worth, TX
  • MCAS Cherry Point, NC
  • Wright Patterson AFB, OH
  • Davis Monthan AFB, NM
  • Schofield Barracks, HI
  • Ft Shafter, HI
  • Ft Know, KY
  • Naval Hospital Beaufort, SC
  • Nellis AFB, NV
  • CG Base Portsmouth, VA
  • Minot AFB, ND
  • Ft Lee, VA
  • Ft Meade, MD
  • Lackland AFB, TX
  • Ft Carson, CO
  • MCB Camp Lejeune, NC
  • Buckley AFB, CO
  • Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, VA
  • Ft Hood, TX
  • Altus AFB, OK
  • Offut AFB, NB
  • Ft Campbell, KY
  • NB Ventura Pt Hueneme, CA
  • USCG Headquarters, DC
  • CG Pacific Headquarters, CA
  • Ft Leavenworth, KS
  • Eleson AFB, AK
  • Camp Minden, LA
  • Mt Home AFB, ID
  • McConnell AFB, KS
  • Camp Ripley, MN
  • and many more….

Have you been successful at breastfeeding in the military?  Does your command offer Time, Space and Support to pump or breastfeed? What else would you suggest to successful at breastfeeding in the military? Leave a comment below!  To celebrate WBW2015 and National Breastfeeding Month BFinCB is offering a 15% discount on everything in the Store.   

3 Responses to WBW 2015: Let’s Make It Work (in the Military)


  1. Have you heard of or seen those new breastfeeding boxes popping up in military medical facilities? I am here at Madigan Army Medical Center and they have one on each floor of the medical mall where the clinics are housed! I have a couple pics, but can’t upload them here…. Love your site!!

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BFinCB is committed to advocating, informing and supporting all breastfeeding personnel serving in the military.

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