Breastfeeding mothers who work in maintenance-related jobs, either as aircraft maintainers or as part of a motor pool, face some unique challenges of their own. Such as pumping around the flight schedule, dealing with male co-workers, and exposure to oils, solvents and other hazardous materials.
Finding a place to pump usually isn’t too difficult. Most hangar bays and motor pool maintenance areas have administrative offices and unused storage closets or locker rooms that can be converted for use as a pumping room. Be sure that whatever area you are is clean and not near Hazardous Materials, and be certain that you have made your breastfeeding status known to your supervisor and Occupational Health, particularly if you are working with fuels, oils, solvents, and other HAZMAT (see the HAZMAT page for more information). However, finding time to pump can be problematic due to the need to fix the aircraft or vehicle and the ever changing maintenance schedule. Some breastfeeding mothers in the maintenance field find that it is difficult to find time to pump because fixing the aircraft or the deuce-and-a half takes priority over the allotted break time. You’ll need to pump whenever you get a chance, rather than wait for a scheduled break.
Working as a jet mechanic, we were always tied to the flight schedule and the need to have the “birds” up and ready to fly the missions. Many times I would soak through my coveralls, even with breast pads, because I wasn’t allowed to pump when I needed to…the maintenance came first. Petty Officer 3rd Class, USN
Some pumping women find that working in an even more male dominated field than usual is a problem with male co-workers not understanding the importance of breastfeeding, or the biology behind the need to remove milk frequently, or the unspoken attitudes that women just don’t belong there. While other moms find that male co-workers are easier to deal with, preferring to just leave mom to do what she needs to do no questions asked.
Be prepared to deal with being an advocate for yourself and you will be successful!