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    Naval Hospital Hosts Breastfeeding in Combat Boots Author



    Story by Danielle Bolton and Petty Officer 1st Class Tyrone Kimbrough

    Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune

    CAMP LEJEUNE, NC – In what has largely been considered a “man’s world,” breastfeeding is an ongoing struggle for mothers in uniform. Active duty and reservists alike continue to fight for proper facilities to breastfeed and pump milk for their newborns. Author of Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, Robyn Roche-Paull is leading the push for all military moms. The former enlisted Sailor shared her struggles, as well as, provided hope to mothers at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, April 14.

    Along with the joy of having her son, Roche-Paull experienced one of the greatest challenges she could ever face — the ability to provide her son with the nourishment that only comes from breastfeeding. Having her son opened up her eyes to a military system that was not prepared to accommodate mothers who wanted to breastfeed. Instead of military facilities providing the proper location to feed, she as many are today, was forced to utilize a bathroom.

    Roche-Paull put it into perspective, “Imagine if you had to eat your meals in a bathroom full of filthy germs not knowing the consequences of what is possibly entering your body. Now magnify that times 10 with the thoughts of you feeding your kids there.”

    This mental image is what has spurred Roche-Paull and others to ensure service members are educated on the policies.

    “It is important to provide them with the necessary education and guidelines set forth by policies that have been written to support their efforts,” said Heidi Walker, the Centering Pregnancy coordinator, Obstetrics Clinic. “Some policies do not address specifics clearly, so it is especially important to provide guidance; while implementing changes in a positive direction for these women.”

    Policies are in place, however Roche-Paull explained that often times, there are limitations to commanders knowing the requirements.

    A 2007 Operational Navy Instruction 6000.1c sets guidelines concerning pregnancy and parenthood and provides an outline of responsibilities for each person involved – from the commanding officer to the expectant mother.

    In 2004, the Marine Corps also released an updated policy for parenting that addressed this concern.

    According to Marine Corps Order 5000.12E w/ch 1-2, women are asked to let their chain of command know as soon as they decide to breast feed so that the workspace can be evaluated and accommodations made to support her decision. Additionally, the order explains supervisor’s requirements for ensuring adequate time and facilities are maintained.

    “A lot of times, individuals will say breast feeding is a choice. They are correct. It is a choice. It is the best “choice” for providing nutrition to their baby as evidenced by a multitude of medical case studies and the Academy of Pediatrics,” said Walker.

    Active duty parents have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates.

    “Personally, I feel if we are more able to support parents in their breastfeeding goals we may see better retention of female service members ,” she said “How many can you think of that walked away at 14 plus years - so close to retirement.”

    Roche-Paull questioned, with the growing effort to maintain and retain the best of the best, why not find better ways to accommodate the expectant active duty mothers who will be breastfeeding their children?

    According to the Bureau of Medicine Instruction 6000.14a, service members are doing very well initially – exceeding the national target for initiation of breastfeeding. However, there are concerns that the breastfeeding duration declines after the initial 2 weeks.

    Lactation typically takes 15 to 30 minutes and should be conducted two to three times a workday, and according to the 2014 BUMED instruction, requires a doorway that can be secured for privacy and running water for handwashing and equipment cleaning.

    “Simply by providing the proper facilities, such as lactation rooms, and the needed break time to express their milk, commands will be able to retain women who have been, and continue to be, productive, willing, and great assets to the military,” said Roche-Paull, who is a certified lactation specialist. “Commands will find that those service members who are supported in their efforts to pump and provide their breastmilk will have higher morale and be absent less often, because children are healthier due to breast feeding.”

    This claim is echoed by the Center of Disease Control in the Surgeon General’s 2011 Call to Action, which explains that breast fed babies are better protected from infections and illnesses and are also less likely to develop asthma or die from sudden infant death syndrome.

    “For both employers and employees, better infant health means fewer health insurance claims, less employee time off to care for sick children, and higher productivity,” according to the report. “A study published last year in the journal of Pediatrics estimated that if 90 percent of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the U.S. would annually save $13 billion from reduced medical and other costs.”

    Additionally, the report explains that families can save between $1,200 and $1,500 in infant formula in the first year.

    “The military family is like no other family you will ever encounter,” said Roche-Paull. “We sacrifice countless hours away from our homes, families and friends to train, fight, and protect the way of life as we know it. Let the voices of those who wish to serve their country and provide the best for their children have that same privilege be heard.”



    Date Taken: 04.14.2016
    Date Posted: 05.02.2016 06:49
    Story ID: 197029
    Location: CAMP LEJEUNE, NC, US 

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