Combat Medic Is On A Mission to Support Breastfeeding

Combat Medic Is On A Mission to Support Breastfeeding

This is Keyana’s story.  She is a breastfeeding mother in combat boots, and is on a mission to make sure that military women are successful and beat the Booby Traps© that keep them from reaching their breastfeeding goals.

Keyana is a combat veteran who earned a Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge as an E-5 SGT combat medic in the South Carolina Army National Guard.  She is currently on active duty orders with the Recruiting and Retention Command.  During her previous assignment with a combat engineer unit she deployed 2010 and came under rocket attack and sustained blast injuries that left her with slight shrapnel damage to her left breast which required minor removal surgery and damaged some of her milk ducts.

She has pushed through the physical difficulties associated with the damage to her breast and is successfully breastfeeding her daughter. Read about her struggles to overcome her injuries and to Beat the Booby Traps©  at our partner, Best for Babes blog.  It helps that her current unit has been very understanding during both her pregnancy and return from convalescent leave. In fact, when she came back from maternity leave, they had already covered the windows to her office in preparation for her pumping sessions. While interviewing Keyana, she stated that, “So far I have not received any negativity regarding breastfeeding. No one bothers me when my door is closed.”

In her experience, Keyana believes that if she was in a different unit there would be issues surrounding her breastfeeding, something many military face on a daily basis.  Unfortunately some units or commands don’t feel that breastfeeding is a priority because it interferes with the mission. Keyana’s advice to women in units that are unsupportive is to remember “Soldier 1st”, that every woman should be prepared to approach their parenting ready for a battle if their command isn’t the supportive type. She goes on to remind breastfeeding military mothers that it is very important to be familiar with the regulations of your branch of service (see this link to the Military Policies page).  Other tips that she shared include: Do not use engorgement discomfort or the need to pump to get out of work (however do make sure that your command understands that you can’t be mission ready if you are hurting from engorgement or if you can’t supply appropriate nourishment for your child), have a good support system in place, talk to your NCOIC or medical personnel about offering a class on the benefits of breastfeeding and the regulations regarding breastfeeding so that your unit or command is familiar (and hopefully more supportive), and use your chain of command if you are not being properly supported by your unit or command.  As SGT Somerset-Townsend says, “Sometimes you gotta fight for it and pave the way for the next person! It may single you out…but sometimes you can’t help that! You are still a mama…you gotta care for your baby!”

Now that Keyana is off the battlefield, she is turning her attention to helping other military mothers be successful at breastfeeding.  She has formed a team, Operation Lactation Freedom, and is raising money to bring awareness and support for breastfeeding to women in uniform.  “I am a mother in combat boots, combat veteran, and a labor doula.  I stand strong for service to this country and service to mothers.  When I had my son at 18, I didn’t know enough and didn’t have enough support to stand on my own.  Now with my daughter, I push through, not just for myself but for others as well.  I have to pave the way so that there is freedom when its my daughter’s turn to be a mother!!!”  Breastfeeding in Combat Boots is proud to share her story and support her and Team Operation Lactation Freedom!

 

Breastfeeding in Combat Boots is proud to partner with Best for Babes to support breastfeeding military moms!  Team Operation Lactation Freedom runs to bring awareness and support for breastfeeding especially for women in uniform and women from low income backgrounds. Let’s let freedom ring for moms and babies – freedom to make an informed feeding decision, freedom to carry that out without being bulllied or booby-trapped, freedom to get the support every momma and baby deserve to do something instinctive, healthy and good for everyone!

Team Best For Babes Operation Lactation Freedom and their Special Dad Forces are on a mission to let freedom ring for breastfeeding moms and babies!  They’re racing to Beat the Breastfeeding Booby Traps(R) that prevent military and civilian moms from reaching their personal breastfeeding goals!  Join us at the Broad Street Ramble in Augusta, GA on October 27, or support our Team! To join or donate go to:  http://teambfb.bestforbabes.org/2012/OpLac/  Best for Babes is also running a graphic design contest awarding a $100 VISA gift card to the person who creates the best new Best for Babes racing shirt in support of Team Operation Lactation Freedom.

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To create a community where military mothers can share experiences, find information, and offer support in order to successfully breastfeed their babies while serving in the military.

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BFinCB is committed to advocating, informing and supporting all breastfeeding personnel serving in the military.

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