I recently received an email from the Facilities Planning Criteria Manager for the US Navy based here in Hampton Roads. As he noted in his email to me, this is a fancy term for a contractor! He contacted me because due to the recent changes in the Health Care law that mandates breastfeeding break time for federal employees, the U.S. Navy (one of the largest government employers) is looking to remain in compliance. He has been tasked (by the CNO, no less) to create Lactation rooms for shore-based sailors in the region who are planning to breastfeed. Since he has no practical experience, being a man, in these matters he went looking for an expert. He had read the article profiling my book and my experience as both a breastfeeding mother on active duty and an IBCLC and contacted me to see how he should begin this project.
I can safely say that I am very excited and just a wee bit nervous about this opportunity. This is huge…and was noted to me in a follow-up email, the planning that goes on here for the Hampton Roads area may very well end up going Navy-wide in the future. I can only hope that the other services will pick up the ball and run with it as well. Providing space for breastfeeding mothers in the military is a no-brainer. It has been shown over and over again that women who are supported by the workplace in their efforts to breastfeed are happier, miss less time at work, have higher morale and remain in the workplace longer than those who receive no support. This is especially true in the military environment where the ability to replace a highly trained individual is not an easy task and the loss of even one military member of a unit can have far-reaching effects. It behooves the military to support breastfeeding mothers, and a good start is to provide lactation rooms where possible.
So over the next few days and weeks I will be compiling information and resources to share with this gentleman as he begins the process of planning and designing lactation rooms for the Navy here in the local area. Hopefully my consulting here will bear fruit for active duty breastfeeding mothers everywhere in the future!