Our breastfeeding journey started out rocky
The Doctors induced me at 36 weeks because of my daughter’s diagonosis with severe intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). She was born 40 hours later via emergency c-section at 3.5 lbs. Perfectly healthy, just small. Due to her size, she spent 14 days in the NICU. So the situation left me stuck exclusively pumping, scared to even try breastfeeding. Once released from the hospital, I slowly introduced the breast, hoping that my daughter would latch easily. With only a couple of exhausting tries, my little one finally latched and gulped! Our journey began and is still going strong 6 months later!
My biggest challenge with breastfeeding has been managing it while I work
As an Active Duty Officer in the Army, I have to force myself to make time to pump. The operation tempo at my current duty station leaves little wiggle room for me to sit down and pump without interruptions. I felt so apprehensive when I went back to work, but even more so, when I went to the field for a week. I was extremely anxious before I left, trying to figure out how I would manage the work load, making time to pump, and storing my milk in a safe and sterile manner.
Initially, when I brought it up to my supervisor, he blew off the topic. Basically, he told me that I needed to figure it out.
However, I knew the regulation and that they had to accommodate breastfeeding moms so I didn’t allow this to be the final answer
After continuing to pressure my supervisor, he told me that I should have a stash for my little one (I already did) for the week I worked. Although my supervisor is a medical provider and most likely knew, I made it clear that I still needed to pump and store the milk. After more of this back and forth conversing, I decided I would take matters into my own hands.
In the end, I coordinated with my husband to pick up milk once a day. Luckily, he is military as well and worked just down the road from my field site. I stored milk in a cooler (trust the Yeti) with ice packs (lucky for me, it was also freezing outside). And I pumped in my HMMWV every 4-5 hours. I made it work because it was a priority to me, even if it wasn’t to anyone else.
Working full-time in the Army makes it difficult to breastfeed, especially when you have a supervisor who is not fully on board
From the beginning of my pregnancy, I had issues with my supervisors recognizing that I was actually pregnant. I went to the field until I was 7 months pregnant. I wasn’t allowed to leave after the maximum “8 hour” working day. Event though it’s outlined in Army regulation. When I did try to adhere to the “8 hour” days, they called me back for pointless meetings or formations.
Bottom line up front (BLUF): if you don’t have a supervisor who is willing to advocate for you, take matters into your own hands!
I am still writing my breastfeeding story because I put my foot down
It’s not easy, but my daughter is definitely worth it! Although work will always keep me busy, it is important to me that my daughter receives the best. If I can give it to her myself, then I will continue to do so!
Lindsay Martin joined the Army in 2015 and currently works as a Medical Service Officer on Fort Bragg, NC. She lives in Broadway, NC with her husband Keith and daughter Tatum.
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