Balance of Serving the Country and BreastfeedingThere is nothing like serving your country, and every day tens of thousands of women serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Many of these women are not only great soldiers, seamen, airmen, and Marines but are also wives and mothers. They juggle serving their country with their duties to their families, and sometimes these aspects of their life can come in conflict with one another.
Active Duty: The Challenge of Being a Mom
One of the biggest of these is related to being a mother. The vast majority of moms want to be at all of their children’s activities, but that can be a real challenge when you are on deployment or out in the field. This challenge becomes even more prominent with the new board, where mothers do not have an unlimited amount of time to be able to nurse their newborns.
Many of these mothers would love to breastfeed their children. However, this is difficult to do when the mom is away for weeks at a time. Clearly, she could not take her baby with her out to the field. So, what is she to do?
Be Prepared! Military Mamas!
You may be a military mom and find yourself in this situation. You want to care for your child, providing your own breast milk for the care of your newborn, but are finding that it may be a difficult challenge. Maybe your baby is about to be born, and you are anticipating the struggles and challenges of breastfeeding. No need to fear; you can do this!
Tip: With the same can-do attitude and dedication that has made you a great member of your arm services, you can care for your baby in the way you desire as well. It just takes a little extra effort and planning on your part.
The prominent place to begin is by recognizing that you are going to face some challenges. If you believe that everything is going to be business as usual, then your ability to take care of your child in the way you wish is not going to occur. Let’s be honest. The military is not an easy life for anyone. Trying to take care of an infant makes it a bigger challenge. So, be realistic that you need to be prepared to make some changes and implement some ideas to take care of your child’s needs.
Wear It! Have Breast Pump Will Travel
Many women carry a breast pump with them when they go away to work or out with friends. It is a good way to quickly store milk in a bottle to use for your baby. If you are a military Mom, then you need a breast pump as well.
Now, this poses a bit of a challenge. You may be in any unit where you do not have continuous electricity. This eliminates the use of an electric pump for you. You may also not have very much room inside your rucksack. You may already have a significant amount of equipment to carry with you, so adding a manual breast pump may not be ideal.
Tip: This means you need to look for a portable option. Find one that is battery-operated or hand-pumped and is small enough to fit inside a pocket of your pack or could be attached to your pack. This will not add a significant amount of weight while still affording you the opportunity to take your breast pump.
Get Breast Milk, Plan to Store It
The first two parts of this are fairly easy to accomplish. You likely have already taken steps to understand that this is going to be a challenge, and it is not too much to carry your portable pump with you. However, the extra bottles you need to carry, and the storage of your breast milk are where the real challenge begins.
Your breast milk needs to be refrigerated. At the very least, it needs to be on the ice. You simply cannot leave it inside your tent or bury it in the ground and expect it to stay cold enough to give to your child later on.
This is where your preplanning is essential. Before you head to the field, you need to work with your company XO or NCO in charge to work out some type of accommodation for your breast milk to be stored. If your unit is going to be out in the field on your base, maybe something can be worked out where your husband would be able to pick up the milk each day at a designated location. It would be stored in an ice chest or other cold container each day and retrieved by your husband according to the schedule set.
This may not be possible, but it is likely that some similar type of accommodation can be made. Talking to those in charge will only help to make this an easier process to accommodate.
Work with Your Husband
The person whose help you will need the most is your husband. He is going to have to care for the child, feed him or her, and ensure that the breast milk is available for the child according to the feeding schedule.
This means you need to work out something with him to ensure he is able to retrieve the breast milk according to the accommodations that have been set. Understand that this is going to be a challenge for him as well, so the more accommodating the plan is, the more likely that you are going to gain his acceptance and cooperation.
Being a mom is a great thing. Serving your country is a great thing as well. There is no reason that one needs to be in opposition to the other. You can make this work and breastfeed your child if you take the necessary steps to make accommodations. This will provide your child with the nourishment you wish for him or her to have while still being able to serve your great country.