When is a room more than a room? When it's a specially-dedicated lactation room. The 3rd Army Headquarters at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina are getting their very own nursing room for military moms. Not a closet where they're "allowed" to plug in a pump, but a whole room with privacy screens, furniture, refrigerator, and sink. The "Third Army Nursing Room" is a big step up from what new moms had before.
One personnel specialist remembers pumping in an office with a sign reading "occupied" -- haha, occupied territory. Except it wasn't funny because once a couple of men unlocked the door and walked in on her. They SO would not have done that if they'd known the person "occupying" that space was actually a new mom pumping breast milk!
The nursing room sounds almost luxurious compared to what many working moms, military or not, are used to. But come on, this is a base with 200 women working. Many of those women are actually military spouses. And a few dozen say they'll be using the lactation room. It sounds more like the nursing room is long overdue.
But I think the really cool thing about the nursing center -- besides the obvious privacy! -- is that it's becoming a small community center for military moms. Kathleen Roberts, a civilian working for the Navy, says the women who use the space share information on everything from managing milk supply to sleep schedules. "It may be only a room, but put a bunch of women together and lot of solutions come out of that. It's a wonderful thing," Roberts says.
I can only think that's great for the moms, their children, and the whole workplace, actually. Hopefully the breastfeeding keeps babies illnesses at a minimum, which in turn means women miss fewer days. But it also makes for happier, healthier women working thanks to the support network. I hope the idea catches on at other bases.
Do you think more workplaces including the military should have dedicated nursing rooms for new moms?
Image via planet_oleary/Flickr