Question for Breastfeeding Moms in Guard/Reserve — The Bump
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Question for Breastfeeding Moms in Guard/Reserve

With my due date fast approaching (I never thought it would go this fast!), I need to start making considerations for breastfeeding while I’m on drilling status. This is a long post, but I’m hoping any advice you can provide will help both myself and anyone else who will soon be in this position!

1)      My  drill schedule ranges anywhere from the normal two-day drills where I can come home at night, to two-and-a-half-week Annual Training in another state. Thankfully, my son will be about a year old before my next Annual Training, but I will have several overnight events while I'm still exclusively breast feeding.

Any tips on:
A) Making sure I’ve pumped and stored enough milk to make sure he’s well-fed while I’m gone?
B) If I’m still actively breastfeeding, I know I’ll need to pump to at least stay comfortable. Should I just pump and dump, or is it worth the hassle to try to make arrangements to bring a cooler to store any pumped milk?

2)      Were any of you able to get your unit to make accommodations for you while pumping? Say, you’re at drill, and you need to take some time to yourself to take care of pumping. Was your unit receptive to making sure you had a private area, or were you forced to resort to sitting in a bathroom stall? I’m not sure how to approach the subject with my command. Since we are a Headquarters unit in a State building, there are never any empty offices to use, people are constantly coming in and out of the locker rooms, and I feel that just sitting in a stall is a little too unsanitary.

Re: Question for Breastfeeding Moms in Guard/Reserve

  • I'm active duty, and LO isn't born yet, so I'm not sure how much help I'll be.

    Basically, I've found that I receive a better response from my leadership when I come to them with solutions instead of problems.  My supervisors all knew about my pregnancy, and were asking about my plans for maternity leave, returning to work, etc, so I ended up drafting an email so they would have something in writing.  It might be better to write an official memo, but feel out your leadership.

    I don't see any reason to pump-and-dump unless you have to.  You should be able to store breast milk at room temperature for 4-6 hours, refrigerated for at least 72 hours, and frozen for up to 6 months.  So you should be fine if you have a cooler bag with ice packs (for the days you can go home at the end of the day), or you can store in a refrigerator in your room for weekends when you can't go home.  So, make sure you have access to a refrigerator in your lodging room, but usually that's not an issue and there's at least a shared fridge.  Freezing might be a little bit harder for your two-week drills, but if you have a big cooler you could keep everything frozen on the drive home maybe?   

    The next time you go to drill, scope out areas where you could possibly pump.  You say there are no empty offices, but is there a lactation room somewhere in the building?  A conference room?  Surely the regular employees have someplace to pump?   Maybe you can contact someone who works in the State building to see what room they typically use for lactating mothers.   Personally, I think a locker room would probably be okay as a last resort -- if you have an electric pump, a hands-free bra, and a hoodie to throw over the top of everything, then you'll be covered up, and it would only be women coming in anyway....might not be the most comfortable, but at least it's not a bathroom stall.

    Okay, so once you gather some info, draft your email/memo, stating:

    1.  That you are pregnant, and your estimated due date is XXX.  You are receiving your care from XXX doctor or clinic, if it's a military clinic (or that you are being seen at a civilian clinic if that's the case...don't think you need to share the name of the Dr/clinic if it's civilian).   

    2. Your plan for maternity leave (I assume you get 42 days -- cite the regulation number, paragraph, etc if you can),

    3.  How you will inform them of the birth (via telephone call to XXX person/supervisor)

    4.  Your needs for when you return to drill and how it will impact your work -- you plan to use XXX room for lactation, or you will need access to a room, YYY times per day (probably once in the morning, once at lunch, and once in the afternoon?  you may be able to pump before and after work, so you only need the one time at lunch).   

    Basically, do most of the leg-work yourself, and then let your supervisor know what solutions you've come up with.  Don't make them problem-solve for you unless you have trouble finding what you need, then make it clear exactly what you will need/when/for how long, and that you are having trouble getting access to this without their help.   

    Hope this helps!

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  • I was in the Reserves and BF when my youngest two were born.  My unit was very accommodating when I needed to pump.  If it was possible to clear an office or classroom for me to pump, they did it.  If it wasn't possible, sometimes it wasn't, I would excuse myself to my car for a bit.  
    I drilled 3 hours away from home and stayed overnight each month.  For several days before I left, I would pump and freeze to make sure there was enough.  Once I was out of town, I paid the extra money to have a refrigerator in my room.  I would pump and store.  
    If we were out in the field, it was way too much of a pain in the behind for me to store.  I just pumped and dumped.  
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  • Just to add to what the PPs said, I'm active duty too and pumped twice a day and my leadership had no issues. Like Avoin22 said, think about optional places you could use. When I was BFing my DD I ended up using a copy/printer room in the other side of my building and had a sign I put on the door whenever I was using it. The people who used that printer knew what was going on and left me alone. I felt bad sometimes for holding them up but it was only 20 min at a time and they were really great about it.
  • I am in the AF reserves and am due 9/17/14 with my first so I don't have experience with this yet. I do know that during our last ORI there was someone who was still bf and she was allowed to take breaks to pump... I would assume they would have to make accomidations for this as I know it is a part of the labor laws where I live for my civilian job... However I don't know exactly how it pertains to the military or if they even have a regulation for this... I have drill this weekend and will ask.
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