Happy Independence Week! Leading Lady is proud to support the military and for us, support comes from the intimates, out. We are celebrating the July 4th holiday in several ways: In addition to the Military Friends & Family discount you can find on LeadingLady.com, we have a very special guest post from Robyn Roche-Paull, author of Breastfeeding in Combat Boots. Robyn’s amazing dedication to breastfeeding while on active duty and continued support of women seeking breastfeeding options in the military is an inspiration. We are honored to share her story with you this week:
Over the years, both as an active-duty sailor breastfeeding my own baby, and later, as an IBCLC helping other active-duty moms to breastfeed their babies, I’ve heard the same questions and concerns over and over from military mothers, “Can I breastfeed while on active duty?” and “How often do I need to pump during a 12-hour shift?” While other questions are very specific, such as “I work with JP-8 fueling aircraft every day, can I feed my baby my pumped milk?” or “I will be deploying to Afghanistan for four months. Can I pump and ship my milk home from overseas?”
I wrote Breastfeeding in Combat Boots and the companion website www.breastfeedingincombatboots.com to answer those, and many other questions. More importantly, I want to reassure and provide military moms with insight into the rewarding aspects of breastfeeding on active duty, while also giving a realistic look at the challenges that lay ahead. And finally, I want to give military breastfeeding moms the tools they need to succeed. I want to show that, except for some very unusual circumstances, with a little preparation, a “can do” attitude, and some creativity, it is possible to breastfeed on active duty. The book and website are geared towards pregnant and breastfeeding moms serving on active duty in any of the five branches of the U.S. military: Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard, as well as the Reserves and the National Guard. Women in professions such as firefighting, police, EMT, long-haul trucking, or any other job with unusual hours, time away from home, and heavy physical exertion, or who work in a male-dominated environment may also find the information to be helpful as well.
The book and website discuss such issues as the importance of breastfeeding (to you, your baby, your command), basics of breastfeeding (getting started, latch/positioning, common concerns), military policies, pumps and pumping basics, finding a time and place to pump, deployments, hazardous materials exposure, physical training and weight standards, and where to find support (plus a whole lot more). There are numerous true stories and anecdotes written by a current or former active-duty mothers who breastfed their child(ren) while serving in the military sprinkled throughout the book as well. On the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/breastfeedingincombatboots mothers can find real time support and information from other active-duty mothers across the globe and in all branches of the military that have or are facing many of the same issues.
In summary, is breastfeeding on active duty worth it? Yes, you bet it is! Breastfeeding in the military is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. You won’t regret for a moment the time and energy or the love and commitment those bottles of pumped breastmilk represent. The inconveniences you may endure will be worth it a hundred times over when your baby gazes up at you with adoring eyes as he is snuggled up at your breast. Proper information and lots of support are the keys to success. With the number of military mothers I’ve spoken with over the years, I’ve never met one who didn’t tell me it was the hardest thing they ever did…and who also said that it was the one thing they were most proud of. You can do it too!
Robyn Roche-Paull, BS, IBCLC, LLL Leader, USN Veteran is the Author of Breastfeeding in Combat Boots and Founder of the companion website www.breastfeedingincombatboots.com. In her practice she primarily helps military mothers balance returning to active duty while continuing to breastfeed. Robyn is not only an advocate for active duty military mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding with military service, she is also a US Navy Veteran who successfully breastfed her son for over a year while on active duty as an aircraft mechanic. She is the mother of 3 long-term breastfed children now 16, 13 and 9, and wife of 18 years to her husband, a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy. Visit her at www.breastfeedingincombatboots.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/breastfeedingincombatboots, you can also follow her on Twitter at BFinCB.