Sunday, December 28, 2014
I am absolutely loving going deeper with my topic. The more I find out about women’s health and motherhood rights in the military, the more I want to know. It is a topic that is personal to me and many of my prior military friends. At times as I am reading the DoD directives and publications about how mothers are supposed to be treated, I remember back to my time as an active duty service women and the stories of my female counterparts… and how were denied or deprived of so many of the rights ascribed by the DoD. Many of the mandates set forth by the DoD are up to interpretation depending on the services. One order will state that you can have up to six months after childbirth before being deployed, while specific branches state that after four months after childbirth, a mother can be deployed. How can a mother properly nurse and/or care for her child if she is made to deploy when her baby is so young?
In addition to the shortness of recommended nursing time, the Marine corps order of pregnancy states that nursing mothers should be permitted sufficient time and clean accommodations for proper pumping while at work or on duty. After reading the order, I was reminded of a conversation that I had with other prior active duty female service members, in which we reminisced about our experiences as mother while serving. It was more painful that pleasant to reminisce about my early motherhood experiences in the Marines. There was no such order that mandated clean and timely conditions for pumping. I was awash with emotions when I read that mothers are not to pump while sitting on a toilet in a bathroom. I could not believe that it took until 2010 for the Marines to figure out that mothers should not have to provide food for their children in such disgusting conditions. I remember sitting on the edge of a toilet in a jet exhaust filled restroom to pump. I was permitted no more than 15-20 minutes to complete the task and then was required to return to work. Many times there was no soap or properly running water for me to wash my hands to rinse my pumping equipment. As painful as it is to have gone through pumping in terrible conditions, I am grateful that now there are orders to protect new mothers and their families. I hope that commands are interpreting the orders appropriately and allowing access to new mothers for the proper expression of breast milk for their babies.