Whether you have any affiliation with the military or not, one thing is for certain: it takes some time for them to come around whenever it comes to certain issues, motherhood and breastfeeding being among them. Working moms in any branch of the military have learned to multitask in so many different forms, but there has always been more that could be done to make their lives a little bit easier. As of recently (as in the very end of July), the Air Force announced that breastfeeding moms can now wear nursing-friendly tees to work and have even authorized approved undershirts to make their lives simpler. Yes!
Starting this summer, "Airmen are authorized to purchase and wear a long or short sleeve breastfeeding t-shirt with their utility uniform," the Air Force shared in an official statement on July 30th.
While this might not seem like a huge deal, in actuality - it really is. This seemingly simple gesture means that moms serving in the Air Force will no longer have to pull their shirts up to pump at work. This is really big for the military.
According to Military.com, the initiative was really put into place by Tech. Sgt. Natalia Wood who is a mother of three and currently expecting her fourth child. Knowing that the Army has already approved nursing tees, she urged and urged the Air Force to follow suit, until they finally obliged. She says, "I'm trying to normalize breastfeeding, not for me, but for all future generations. I was thinking more about everyone behind me. I just feel like we are the leader in securing our skies, but when it comes to this, we're lagging behind. I'm just trying to bring us up to speed, where we do support women who are breastfeeding and we do provide spaces (for nursing and pumping)."
The shirts that are Air Force approved are available to all women serving through a website called Miss Military Mom, which was founded by Kenisha Heath who had a baby in 2014, but upon returning to work as an active duty Airman, she found it extremely difficult to pump with all the layers they must wear. She founded the website in hopes to make these tees readily available to nursing moms in all branches of the military.
According to the military release, Airmen who wear these nursing tees must have them tucked in and "may not remove their ABU or OCP coat while wearing the shirt unless they are in designated lactation rooms." While more obviously needs to be done in the military as a whole to accommodate nursing moms, this is a huge step forward.