As a military spouse for more than seven years, I’ve spent my fair share of time around men and women in uniform. But until I saw the lovely photo of two active duty Air Force mothers breastfeeding, I’d never seen a woman nursing in uniform. The photo has sparked a lot of discussion on a twist of the ever present nursing in public discussion, which, I believe, is a good thing.
You see, there’s no official regulation which governs whether it is or is not acceptable for a mother to breastfeed her child while wearing her uniform. Discussion will hopefully lead to awareness, and awareness of a mother’s right to feed her child will hopefully lead to official support for women to breastfeed in uniform.
Clearly my position as a non-active duty person associated with the military is completely different from that of someone who wears the uniform but I have been pleasantly surprised by the breastfeeding support I’ve received on base. With my first son, I specifically remember the “team effort” to help my baby learn to latch correctly. I was holding my breast as a young (male) Airman Nurse’s Aide held my infant’s head in the correct position. I will always remember that young man in uniform helping me learn to feed my baby. With my daughter, I visited a Lactation Consultant several times on base at no cost. At our current duty station, there’s even a LC who will make a home visit to help new moms, again at no cost.
I have so much respect for everyone who serves our country through military service and can’t imagine the sacrifices that active duty mothers make. Feeding their children how, when and where they choose should not be one of those sacrifices.