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News > Commentary - Straight Talk: Accommodations for breastfeeding mothers
Straight Talk: Accommodations for breastfeeding mothers

Posted 8/26/2011   Updated 8/26/2011 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Col. Stacy L. Yike
66th Air Base Group commander


8/26/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- It was another big week at Hanscom! We kicked off the week showcasing the awesome global reach of the Electronic Systems Center and will end with an installation-wide picnic to celebrate all of your amazing efforts to make ESC the place it is today.

Come out on Friday to the tennis bubble for lunch on us and then stay for the farewell celebration for Lt. Gen. Ted Bowlds. Next week we welcome Lt. Gen. (S) Charles (C.R.) Davis at the change of command. Don't miss all the celebrations.

This week's question discusses accommodations for breastfeeding mothers. The text was a bit long, but I tried to capture the gist: It's an issue that affects many women at Hanscom. It's generally considered a sensitive topic and currently there is not a good solution.

Comment: Breastfeeding mothers working full time need a place to express breast milk for a small period of time a few times per day. In my current situation I was offered what was a seemingly more private location with chair and table and outlet in a communications closet, with the only downside being that I had to go get the keys and return them several times a day. However, it has turned out that many personnel have keys to the closet and some even ignore my notes on the door. In other words, I have been walked in on a few times. I'm inquiring into this issue for those that will need space in the future, as my need is coming to an end in the next couple of months.

Response: Negotiating the challenges of pregnancy and infancy is a chaotic time for every family. I can't believe you have had people walking in on you after you posted a notice. Come on folks: read the sign!

I was glad to hear that you have managed to find tolerable accommodations and that your main focus was to help those who are also wrestling with this issue. So, in honor of Women's Equality Week, let's talk some options.

We will work to incorporate this issue into facility manager training as you suggested. The best solution is always going to rest with the combined efforts of the supervisor, facility manager and employee.

I am also working with my base gurus to find a few places scattered across the base that could be identified as a known resource for any nursing mother. Once we identify these, we will get the word out through the Airman and Family Readiness Center and first sergeants. Supervisors or members looking for an alternate location: give them a call for ideas.

On another note, I was overwhelmed with the slew of responses you provided to my query last week, so I have a new question for you. A neighbor suggested we start a Craigslist-type website for Hanscom. It's clearly a fantastic idea, but I don't know how to make it happen. Does anyone know how to create something like this? Has anyone seen it elsewhere, and can you tell us how? I am excited about having this resource for Hanscom. Can you help me do it?

In closing, I want to say thank you for the wonderful note from a reader expressing appreciation for our top-notch chaplains who provided daily support to his family who experienced difficulties with a new baby. Mom was in the hospital 13 days, but the chaplains and the C2ISR Directorate co-workers put up around the clock support for the whole family. Kudos to all of you who are out there being great wingmen!



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