Let’s face it, ladies; there is just never a good time to pull out your breast in a public setting, especially at work. Not even the scantily-clad bombshell Janet Jackson could escape the controversy of the fashion faux pas that left her bare-bosomed in the midst of a performance. For ordinary nursing mothers returning to work, this taboo act of indiscretion becomes a daily reality.
A couple of strange moments come to mind in these first two months of supplying my newborn with nature’s best sustenance while at work. Recently, I felt like Madonna, circa 1989, with cone-shaped suction cups attached to me as I prepared to pump milk in the ladies room. It was definitely awkward when another lady caught a glimpse of me trying to “express” myself in this unsanitary environment.
Doing the most natural thing in the world, providing a new life with nourishment, just became much more convenient at the William E. Jones III building.
When I found about the Common Access Card-enabled room that’s now available for moms to express milk, my heart pumped with joy. It also seemed opportune that room 2039 is located on the second floor; it’s just around the corner from my office.
Having experienced the inconvenience of expressing milk in a break area at work for her firstborn, Allison Van Lare, Air Force District of Washington Emergency Management contractor, inspired this new development.
“This is my second child and my second time having to pump in the office,” Van Lare said. “While the ‘private’ space in our office was comfortable, I felt guilty when people couldn’t get their lunch or cup of coffee.”
Although the Jones building is at a premium on space, it has been decided this new space is essential.
“The Jones building is home to military members, government workers and contractors who have growing families so this is becoming more of a requirement,” Bailey Jenkins, Air Force District of Washington facility manager, said..
Van Lare and I are currently the only mothers signed up to use the new area.. Van Lare is soliciting rules of engagement from prospective users since the room is big enough for two. Her contact information is available in the “Express Lounge” to voice suggestions and concerns as well as to deconflict scheduling.
“I appreciate how dedicated my leadership and Bailey Jenkins were to getting a room dedicated to breastfeeding families established,” said Van Lare.
Jenkins did his best to ensure that the room was comfortable, private and practical, then allowed Van Lare to see it to give it a stamp of approval, Van Lare said.
According to the Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, breastfeeding is beneficial for both mother and baby.
Scientific research says the euphoric experience that washes over me when my newborn is snug in my arms and gazing into my eyes while receiving sustenance is due to the release of the “happy hormone” oxytocin into my bloodstream.
The DHHS details the physical health benefits of breastfeeding as well as the mental and emotional. Mothers who breastfeed immediately after birth give their newborn what lactation consultants define as ‘liquid gold’, or colostrum. And by continuing to breastfeed they give their babies nutrients and antibodies which protect them from illness. This boosts their immune system as well, resulting in fewer days off of work spent caring for a sick child.
Nursing moms, feel free to express yourself and pump privately in a designated sanitary area, sans the shame.
Visit the facility manager on the first floor of the Jones building in room 1754 to get your CAC activated.