Malmstrom Air Force Base recently sent a message of support to breastfeeding moms by opening 5 Mothers rooms for women to nurse their babies or pump. This was after1st Lts Annabel Monroe and Sheila Koebel decided to advocate for mothers across the base. When they learned that mothers were using storage areas and other empty offices, the determined Lieutenants sprang into action and helped procure 5 furnished rooms across the base for mothers to privately nurse or pump.
Does your base adequately support nursing mothers? If not, you can create change like Lts Monroe and Koebel. How do you do this? We caught up with Lt Monroe and here’s what she shared with us:
MMM: What inspired you to push for this change?
Lt Monroe: I saw a need and opportunity for a positive change, I asked a few friends if they'd like to partner up. When I met with 1st Lt Sheila Koebel I knew we could make a positive difference for mothers and future mothers to serve!
MMM: How did you achieve your goal and how long did it take you?
Lt Monroe: We started the process in February 2016, it took eight months in total. We began by working with the medical group and wing command staff to draft a policy letter. When we had leaderships support we worked with contracting, finance, civil engineering and many other base agencies to make our vision a reality. Persistence was key!
MMM: What advice would you give to others who would like to make the same changes at their base?
Lt. Monroe: Male and female leaders alike support our Airmen and civilians in their breastfeeding and motherhood journey. Don't be afraid to speak up and make a positive difference.
We recommend that you first know your branch’s breastfeeding policy. Breastfeeding in combat boots has nicely summarized established policies for all military branches. Read it here: http://breastfeedingincombatboots.com/military-policies/.
MMM: How had the addition of the breastfeeding rooms added to the quality of the work environment for mothers?
Lt. Monroe: When we don't have to worry about where we might pump, if we are authorized a break, and if our new baby will be fed we can focus on accomplishing the mission. It improves both our quality of life and willingness to serve in our greatest capacity.
We were so inspired by the tenacity of these Lieutenants and applaud them for making such a magnificent change that will positively affect thousands of women and babies for years to come! You can make a difference at your base too with their tips above! Read the Air Force Times article on the achievements of these wonderful women here: https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/five-breastfeeding-rooms-open-at-malmstrom-air-force-base.