Good news for Army mothers!
That branch of the US Military became the last to finally institute a comprehensive policy for breastfeeding soldiers.
This past September, the Army made its first attempt at a policy which essentially would have given commanders the option of allowing breastmilk pumping to occur in a restroom. The policy, many thought, was so simple and open-ended that it was very open for interpretation as to what was considered adequate pumping time. It required the minimum: a private space with a lock, outlet and access to water.
That policy was met with tremendous criticism. U.S. House of Representative member Niki Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, was in the middle of sponsoring a bill requiring the Army adjust its policies when Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno offered to review the September guidance and come up with better policies.
On November 10, 2015, after much prodding, social media and political pressure, the Army released an update for their new policy regarding breastfeeding soldiers.
The new policy now states that soldiers must have access to a private space, that is not a bathroom, with a lock, and must include a seat, a flat surface other than the floor, and a safe water source within a reasonable distance.
Commanders now must ensure soldiers have adequate time to express milk. New mothers commonly express milk every two to three hours for 15 to 30 minutes.
The policy went into immediate effect and applies to active duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.
The previous policy as one page long but the current one is more expansive requiring among many other things:
“The non-restroom lactation area must include a flat space where the soldier can rest her breast pump, as well as “access to a safe water source within reasonable distance from the lactation space,” according to the memo. Initial guidance required only that the room have a lock and an electrical outlet, requirements that remain in place”