Breastfeeding in the Army
Let me begin at the beginning - my journey into motherhood was a little unexpected, but my husband and I couldn't have been more thrilled to be expecting parents.
Being from a family of 4 girls including myself I thought I would be a little more prepared and have a little experience from being the oldest daughter. As any new parent would say "no matter how much you think you're prepared, nothing will ever prepare you as much as actually parenting." When I was growing up I watched my mom breastfeed all of my younger sisters. And to me it was just a normal thing that mom's do just like the mom's who bottle feed as well! I always watched as my mom would nurse my sisters in a restaurant or in public and struggle to hide behind a menu or have me hold a blanket so she could feed them without getting dirty looks from our server or wandering eyes from strangers. Fast forward 10 years and here I am with my daughter and society has come so far with normalizing breast feeding!
I have no shame or fear when I have to feed my daughter in public. Which leads me to the most important part of my journey- breastfeeding in the Army. It used to be that women who served and decided to start a family would only get 6 weeks of maternity leave and would most likely have to bottle feed their babies formula or decide to end their service due to parenthood. But today that's not the case- women get a little less than 3 months of maternity leave and thanks to the Army there are now breastfeeding regulations for moms in the army.
Given you can't bring your child to work with you to breastfeed but you can now leave work to go pump, and save the milk to feed your baby and even when you're in the field you are allowed time to go pump and return to the mission after. On the occasion that I would bring my daughter into work with me as an infant to check up with my command and leadership I would have to hustle off to the restroom and breastfeed her in my uniform. I'm so thankful that even in the army that I am able to breastfeed my daughter and it's accepted by my leadership. Breastfeeding hasn't only made me more confident as a mom, but it has also brought my daughter and I closer with our bond. I've been doing it for almost 10 months, and it's been a journey, and there have been times that I wanted to quit- but I persisted and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!
I was born and raised in a small rural town in Vermont, and am the eldest of four girls who were gifted to me to be my sisters by my amazing matriarch who unbeknownst to me blazed the breastfeeding trail that I would walk years later in my adult life with my own daughter. With both of my parents being in the army I've got to see almost all of this beautiful country and I've seen so much culture which has completely opened my eyes to so much more than my small town I grew up in could give me. Including breastfeeding moms who have taught me to think with the "breastfeed without fear" mentality. A few years down the road we ended up in Colorado, I met my husband, and joined the army myself! (We're a pretty patriotic family haha) soon after completing basic training and getting stationed we decided to bring a baby into our lives! In September of 2016 we welcomed Audrie into our lives and things were forever changed. But here we are, even through deployments, field time, and balancing my life breastfed will always be a constant.