Thanks to the perseverance of multiple military mothers and the creation of properly designed uniforms, breastfeeding service members will no longer feel pressured to step into the bathroom or car to pump.
Breastfeeding moms who are serving in the US Army now have access to uniform-approved nursing shirts thanks to the authorization efforts of Maj. Kelly Bell—a mother-of-two, according to connectingvets.com. These shirts are designed with a flap that allows for a breast pump, providing ease, comfort, and privacy so that nursing while on duty is seemingly effortless.
Women can now purchase breastfeeding uniforms from Miss Military Mom, a company founded by Kenisha Heath, a new mother serving in the US Armed Forces.
“As an active duty officer in the United States Air Force who just recently had a baby, I was floored by the inconvenient and largely exposing process I had to go through to simply nurse my daughter. Since a nursing option was not available for our uniforms, I decided to create one myself,” Heath told breastfeedingincombatboots.com.
She continued, “We should be able to provide the very best for our children without jeopardizing our productivity or commitment to work.”
On April 12th the Army released a statement saying, “Effective immediately, Female Soldiers who are nursing are authorized to wear an optional Tan 499 or Sand T-shirt designed specifically for that purpose with the Class C Utility Uniforms. This exception applies only to those Soldiers during their postpartum nursing period.”
As reported by connectingvets.com, in the male-dominated environment, commanders and fellow soldiers often express to female soldiers that pumping milk should be done in a car or bathroom, to which she responds, “Would you prepare your lunch sitting on a toilet? If not, then why would a mother fix her baby's meal on a bathroom stall?”
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Through Bells hard work to influence policy, change not only boosts morale and normalizes breastfeeding (now women can pump easily during lunch or on a break from their duties without having to step away), but it shows that the military supports moms who wish to provide for their children.
This change in regulation also provides a foundation of education for soldiers who don’t understand the importance and urgency of breastfeeding for the heroic women who still wish to serve their country and be the best mothers they can be.
The T-shirts range in price from $24.99-$27.99 depending on one’s preference of long or short sleeves.
Thanks to the hard work of individuals like Maj. Kelly Bell and Kenisha Heath, the stigma around breastfeeding is changing and women are being provided with the proper resources to effectively do their jobs without compromising on their motherhood duties. We humbly thank these advocates for their service and commitment to improving the work environment for all resilient mothers serving our country.