As mentioned in the Making Plans page, you may want to consider setting up a lactation room at your command, especially if there is more than one breastfeeding mom (and don’t be surprised if more moms show up, seemingly out of nowhere once the room is in place…you may be the first to actually do anything about it) at your command. Also, don’t let your rank get in the way, mothers from E-4 to O-4 have been successful at getting lactation rooms set-up at their commands. It isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds. The hardest part will be sending the request up your chain of command!
Here is a step-by-step plan for making a lactation room a reality:
- Find a suitable area. This may be a conference room, unused office, storage closet, unused clinic room, lounge, locker room. Any place that has a locking door, electrical outlet and can hold a table and a chair or two. It is better if it is near running water. Of course that is the bare minimum, you can always add amenities later.
- Write a memo, citing the regulations and policies of your service, the various statements put out by the AAP and WHO regarding the importance of breastfeeding to you and your baby’s health, and outline what you need in the way of a room and supplies (locked door, chairs, electrical outlet, sink/running water), and then send it up your chain of command for approval. Remember, the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy are required, by policy, to provide a secluded space for expressing breastmilk.
- Once approved, find the supplies you’ll need: table and chairs, refrigerator, bulletin board, notebook/log book, reading materials (breastfeeding information, magazines), phone, computer (for doing work/writing reports), a mirror (for fixing your uniform before heading back out). A shower curtain to hang from the ceiling can be useful (so that when the door is opened not everyone can see you sitting there exposed). A sign for the outside of the door is a good idea as well.
- Inquire as to whether your command might order some hospital-grade pumps for mothers to use. There is nothing in the policies to deny this and other commands HAVE been successful in doing so.
- If you are feeling extra hung-ho, you may want to consider writing a breastfeeding support policy that your command can keep on file. This will ensure that your hard work will not go to waste and that the lactation room and support will remain long after you transfer to a new command. Here are a number of command-level policies written for commands (Army, Marine Corps, Navy) that were successfully approved and are currently in use (and available for YOU to use as a template to create a policy): Navy Command Breastfeeding Policy Marine Corps Pumping Area Proposal Pumping Area Diagram Fort Bliss Installation Breastfeeding Policy (Army).
And that’s it. It is pretty simple and something that your command is required to provide you. It may be nothing more than a supply closet with a stool, an electrical outlet and a locking door or as fancy as a fully decked out lounge area with a couch, sink, and multiple hospital-grade pumps. But so long as you have a private and safe area to express your milk, you are set! Read about how a Navy LCDR created a policy and set-up a lactation room with two Symphony pumps at the blog post, Creating a Lactation Room, USN-Style. Then, view photos of some Lactation Rooms at other installations in our slideshow below.