Breastfeeding Military Moms to Get On-Base Rooms Just for Pumping & Nursing -- Yay!

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breast pumpWhen 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

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shesl... shesliketx

I think this is great, but the cost shouldn't be forgotten. The military is hurting for money, some offices are lacking basic office supplies because of the cuts, soldiers in Afghanistan aren't eating breakfast...but yeah. Lets build this on every installation. :-/

MamaC... MamaCatShively

I love the idea of this - what nursing Mom wouldn't - however I don't think an entire specialty room needs to be built.  I can see setting aside a space with outlets, chairs and a table or desk but nothing more than that is really necessary as long as the room locks and no one can let themselves in if the room say's it's occupied.  We have an office set aside here at work for those of us who need it and there is a sign that can be put on the door.  I guess if someone who does have a key decides they need in while I'm using it they can see what they can see and if it bothers them they will learn to read the occupied sign.

LadyM... LadyMinni

Wow, Shaw is seriously behind. Most military installations already have these. I suppose this must be the updated, moms-won't-stop-bitching version. I agree about the cost. When the soldiers are in Afghanistan without proper gear because of budget cuts, they don't need to be pandering to the lowest common denominator. Most Bradleys don't have proper, code-grade plating anymore. The detonation strength of their shells has been reduced by 20% to save money. Equipment that needs to be replaced is instead being given shoddy repairs. The Kevlar strength of the new bullet-proof vests is lower than the old ones, they're being billed as "lighter!" to make up for it.

But, of course, what those soldiers really need is a state-of-the-art nursing room for the "few dozen" women who will use it. Generally I support having separate areas for nursing moms, but this is insane. The room that was already there was perfectly fine. Are the existing rooms luxurious? Not by any means! But they also aren't tents in the middle of Afghanistan.

nonmember avatar Shannon

LadyMinni, You must be in the Air Force or Army. Having a "nursing room" has bee the rule in the Navy for around 7 years, but I have only seen one shore command that had one. Hell, most of us would just be happy to not have to use our car or the shower room.

Courtney Paige

It blows my mind that women today still regard women (especially those who are raising tomorrow's men and women) as the "lowest common denominator" in the military. Though I have yet to be deployed due to my job, you should know that there are many women supporting missions and working long hours to keep those in Afghanistan safe. These rooms are important because many women in the military do not feel as if being a mom in the military is doable (only 6 weeks maternity leave, long hours, often not able to breastfeed) and therefore the military loses women who are trained in their field and it costs money. For every woman that leaves another has to be trained. As a woman in the military who works long hours to support our men and women in Afghanistan I am VERY thankful for these rooms and support any measure which helps to keep woman in the military.

nonmember avatar MammaMel

Yes @Sheliketx something that could help tricare rates go down by having healthier children and infant in the long run is sooooooooooooo a waste of money......way to be shortsighted.

LadyM... LadyMinni

Shannon - Both! My dad was in the Air Force for ten years, then went Army. My man is former artillery (hence my knowledge of the BFV) and he said they had them everywhere he went. I have never been to a post or base without them. Well, maybe one or two Marine Corps bases. The Marines just don't care, they have their priorities in order. Courtney, I consider anyone who is not mission ready to be the lowest common denominator. Frankly I'm starting to rethink my position on allowing women into combat roles because of how the Army PT standards are being dropped to make things easier for women. A real soldier is not a mother or a father, a man or a woman, a son, a daughter, or anything but a soldier. Compromising mission readiness for something that is unnecessary is pandering to the lowest common denominator.

nonmember avatar Ginger

As a female active duty Marine Colonel who had her one and only child as a Major I was grateful for the opportunity to nurse my daughter. If I was not able I would have resigned my commission! Now think about this, I graduated from the Naval Academy, then flight training, Naval Post Graduate School, and the military paid for my PhD. Is it worth having all that training walk away over a room to nurse in? Well when you multiply the dollars spent on education and training and all the nursing mothers, I think the answer is a resounding NO! A flat screen TV, comfortable chairs and a few refrigerators is hardly state of the art! LadyMini do not ever refer to a military woman as "the lowest common denominator" if you have worn a uniform and you want to call yourself that..then it is fine...but do not call other women who sacrifice that! I have never compromised mission readiness and I don't know any other women that have, unlike men who I have commanded that went out and got drunk the night before deployment and missed movement!

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