Breastfeeding While In Uniform…Shame On Them or Shame On Us?

Updated: February 20, 2013

By RU Contributor Solomon G.

As a medic, I’m often thrown into some pretty precarious situations. I’m not referring to the fog of war, where I may be tasked to bear relentless gunfire to patch up a fellow warfighter. Nor am I referring to providing medical support to a unit during convoy ops or munitions recovery. I’m referring to my non-deployed state as medic in your run of the mill, military medical treatment facility.

In this zone, the day-to-day battles are not fueled by insurgent aggression, but by simple acts of “what the hell just happened”. You see, I deal with all kinds of ugly in my job. I’ve seen parts of people that should never be exposed to eyes, I’ve seen people behave in ways that seem exorcism worthy and I’ve even managed the unfortunate task of helping a young, active duty airmen deal with her cancer. Early in my career, I worked in a pediatrics clinic, where I had to assist with patient-newborn education, which dealt heavily in breastfeeding. This wasn’t the ultra-male segment of my career, but I served with pride. Recently, I was reminded of those early days of my career, when this “what the hell just happened” moment splashed across my computer screen…

itrocksLast year, two Air National Guard mommies, took it upon themselves to get photographed, breastfeeding their babies while in their Airman Battle Uniform to support National Breastfeeding Month and to promote Mom2Mom, a network designed to connect mothers. Senior Airman Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Staff Sgt. Christina Luna’s photos stirred up more controversy than they predicted once the photos went viral. Blogs exploded with comments about how inappropriate breastfeeding in uniform is and some even called for these two women to be reprimanded for their actions. By the way, the photographer that organized the photo shoot was eventually fired from the private firm that employed her. I guess the real question is what do they get reprimanded for? Being moms? Feeding their kids? Openly feeding their kids straight from the well, while in uniform? Indecent exposure? After looking at the photos of these two airmen on a park bench feeding their youngins, I have to ask my self; “What the hell just happened!?!”

I’m not certain what the right answer to this dilemma may be, but I have been exposed (had to use that word) to similar situations. I have worked with airmen who after giving birth and returned to work, requested time to pump breast milk. The reasons why this had to be done are extensive so I won’t get into the details here, but I know it took time away from their primary duty. I didn’t feel that I had the authority or did I want the moral bereavement of challenging one of these moms on their need to take a break to handle their business. In these cases, they found an empty office or break room, did their duty and returned to work. No one ever questioned what went on behind those doors. The light humming of the pump machine told the story. However, when bags of a white milky substance began showing up in our staff fridge marked Sgt Buffy’s Milk, I had to act… but that’s another story for another day. So basically, there wasn’t an issue with any of these airmen breastfeeding in uniform. Is it because they did it behind closed doors? I mean, we all knew what was going on, but didn’t bother because it was out of sight, out of mind?

As I walk through the clinics, I often see mother’s feeding their kids flesh to flesh, all under the refuge of a well-placed blanket or cover of some sort. Never have I seen a mother do this in uniform. If I did, I’m not certain what my reaction would be. I wear my uniform proudly and correct uniform violations or sloppy appearance without hesitation. Would this be considered a violation of some sort? I mean, you can’t stand around with your hands in your pocket or even walk and drink at the same time. Where do lifting your blouse, unplugging the hydrant and quenching your child’s thirst fall into the scheme of things?

In the past year, the military has gone through some dramatic evolutions: gays serve openly, women are welcomed into combat roles and new medals for joystick jockeys, to name a few milestones. The majority of these changes I find completely compelling and long overdue. However, I just can’t help but wonder what will be the next issue we have to tackle? We are all aware of the numerous uniform changes in the military. Will the acceptance of breastfeeding in uniform generate a uniform change? Possibly the development of a breastfeeding-combat blouse? It’s not far fetched and was actually proposed on one of the pro-military breastfeeding momma websites. I just want functioning, useable pockets on my ABU top. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

060112-news-breastfeeding-in-uniform-1-ss-662w-at-1xThere are so many arguments as to why breastfeeding in uniform is wrong or right. One focus referred to the fact that women work so hard to level the playing field between men and women in the workforce (especially the military) and this act would portray women as meek and too feminine to perform aggressively in roles that are normally dominated by men. Sound sexist? Well, this statement came from a woman serving as an officer in the Army, who struggled to earn the respect of the soldiers in her unit, both male and female. She believes that because she is a woman, a wife and a mother, the soldiers instinctively thought her to be soft and not military-minded. She proved herself by leading her soldiers into and out of tough deployments and never letting them forget that she was a “soldier first”. Could the image of her breastfeeding in uniform mar her leadership effectiveness? Hmm…

With all due respect (usually when people preface a statement with that phrase, they’re about to get disrespectful) to moms in uniform, I’m just not sure if I’m ready to see uniformed women openly breastfeed in public. I truly admire the fact that they chose to serve our great country, while performing the most admirable role as a mom. I honor and respect the fact that they leave their kids at home and deploy side-by-side with me in harms way. As a medic and a dad, I truly understand the nurturing connection and nutritional importance of breastfeeding and breast milk. I’m just not sure about the whole idea right now.

So, back in my non-combat, battle zone better known as the medical treatment facility, I anxiously await the next precarious situation where I’ll ask myself, “what the hell just happened”….




  1. C375

    February 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I take it that you never served in Regiment, but if you did, and subsequently think that gays serving openly, or women being introduced into combat MOSs, are changes that are “completely compelling and long overdue” then you need to turn in your beret, and go down the hall to pick up the RFS packet that’s waiting for you in the team room.

    • Tat2dfiter

      February 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Bro relax…he’s stating his opinion….besides u missed where he said “majority of these changes” not all bro.

    • A375

      February 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      I served in Regiment as an 11B, deployed to the Stan and Iraq and I think that if you can’t STFU and accept the orders of the President, SecDef, and JCS it’s time for you to salute the flag and move out. Don’t bother re-enlisting, we’ll be better off without you.

      • C,HHC,A2/75

        February 22, 2013 at 11:38 am

        Yep, blindly follow orders from your leadership no matter how ill-concieved and potentially lethal they are to your Rangers. That sounds like the “Ranger Robots” that I led for 12+ years of my career.

        Brother, decisions are being made that will be lethal to many Rangers. We have all been given orders in the heat of battle that could get us killed some were right and some were dead wrong. The ones that were wrong were decisions most likely made under stress and cost someone thier life and the right ones cost lives all the time. A wrong decision made under stress is far more excusable than decisions that are made when you can carefully consider the ramifications and the 2nd and 3rd order effects…and still make a stupid politically driven BULLs%^T decision.

        Back to the argument at hand. Who gives a damn? Thier breasts, being used for one of the purposes they were designed for. At the end of the day over 50% of the worlds population have them (not counting the dudes that sport them). As we move into a more “integrated” fighting force and women and men start experiencing austere combat environments the forces need to get over the nudity taboo eventually.

      • Sapper7

        February 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

        “I served in Regiment as an 11B” ?? What Regiement would that be? The COD Regiment?? Nobody in the service says some shit like that. I’m calling BULLSHIT!

        • B175

          February 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm

          Sapper7, You obviously have no idea what you are talking about man. The Regiment A375 is talking about is THE 75th Ranger Regiment. Check your info before you make yourself look like an idiot again!

        • C275

          March 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm

          For Rangers, there is only ONE Regiment.

        • MTRHHC175

          November 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

          @sapper7. oooh, He said you ain’t got no nipples!

  2. EHD4

    February 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I don’t think breastfeeding in the open is acceptable IN UNIFORM (unless of course you do it in a room where the prying eyes of the public can not see you). While your in uniform you represent the branch of service you are in. If you want to breast feed in public off duty in civilians clothes be my guest, as long as it’s done in a tasteful manner (no pun intended).

    As for the photograph, so what? Maybe they should have been wearing a different air force uniform like pts or something but they were just trying to send a message. Maybe omit the uniform altogether because the air force has nothing to do with breastfeeding or the mom2mom community. Tisk tisk you wore a uniform, give a verbal counseling and move out.

  3. ET1(SS) Princess

    February 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Personally I don’t think it is a big deal. Anyone who has worn a uniform knows the rules and regulations to wearing it but honestly people, there are times where the rules can be bent slightly. I’m not saying walk around indoors with your cover on or anything but we all know that what rules can be bent, where and when. If one of my sailors had to go pump so that she could feed her child later that night then I would let her go do it. No big deal. As long as it is not interfering with the mission at hand and she can find a reasonably secluded place then go for it. Same as you already stated “out of sight-out of mind.”

    However if a mother is in uniform AND has her child with her, then it is probably a special occasion or event, right? That being said they should be prepared to have a bottle with breast milk ready for the child. In other words, be prepared. Worst comes to worse, she could find a secluded spot after informing her command that she had to feed her child. If she can’t and she’s wide open for every Tom, Dick and Harry to see then what is wrong with an ACU colored blanket to cover her and the child up? The second side of the professional topic is that if you are in uniform and have your children you probably have time to change out of uniform. I don’t know about everyone else but I never walked around anywhere with my Digi’s on unless I was working or on duty. As soon as I was home, they came flying off. Even when my wife and daughter attended Mando-Fun events I made sure to keep a professional bearing in mind. I’m sure there are other situations in which a mother in uniform would need to feed her child but I can’t really think of any right now. I’m just trying to say that if the mother has her children and she is in uniform then she probably has time to change into Civi’s and feed. If she is on duty, then maybe she should plan ahead and use the pump to fill up a bottle or two. After all, that’s what the pump is for right?

    I admire women and they are discriminated against in our world on all levels. I know for a fact that there are a large number of women out there who can handle their own in a firefight and I certainly don’t view them as weak because they are mothers, wives, or women. There is a specific reason the CIA “Targeters” are mostly women and it’s not because the director likes to check them out. It’s because they rock at what they do.

    • RegAHole

      February 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      You and the author of this article completely miss the point of the controversy. The Airmen were in uniform promoting an organization. The bottom line is that the regulation is very specific on wearing your Uniform while promoting an issue or cause. The answer is don’t do it. These Airmen where on a poster promoting a pro-breast feeding organization. Which is the whole issue. Pay attention!

    • Tara

      February 27, 2013 at 7:19 am

      I am Active Duty Air Force, my husband and I both serve. While our daughter was still nursing, I was working twelve hour shift work five to six days a week. My husband worked the other twelve hours the same days.
      There isn’t always time to “plan ahead”, every individual member’s situation is different, and pumping is different for every woman.
      Often my husband would bring my daughter to work if I was unable to pump enough milk to last a shift.
      For a week the air conditioning was out in the building, and it was over 90 degrees. I took my daughter outside on a picnic table to nurse where it was 15 degrees cooler. No one in my unit batted an eye. Why? Because it is NURSING, giving the best possible nutrition to your child. If someone is offended by the small amount of exposed skin during nursing, perhaps they are the ones with an issue.

  4. Anvil7

    February 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Seriously – WTF is wrong with this picture? WTH is there a baby at the unit? Ya wanna titlunch then do it at the post daycare or wherever you park the curtain climbers but babys around units is asinine. Even at TMCs – seriously THF would you want to take a healthy kid around some strep and pinkeye infested troop clinic unless it was necessary?

    Need time to breastfeed so you can’t work it into the rotation at lunch when layouts and all our other mandatory fun is going on? Then tough shit – it’s time to find another job. Next thing you know they’ll be using breastfeeding as a reason to not deploy.

    • husband of active duty women

      February 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      Suck a d!ck Anvil

  5. Matt

    February 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t think the fact that these women are breastfeeding is wrong, that is the best thing for a child. What people need to get through their head is what they can and can not do while in uniform. The fact that they are breast feeding in uniform is not wrong either, the fact that they are breast feeding in public, being photographed, and those photos being published is what is wrong. Maybe if the one was a little more discreet it wouldn’t have been such an issue either, but it this day and age, it only takes a second for a private picture to become public to the world.

    • defensor fortissimo

      February 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      One thing to keep in mind is that they had already run the idea through public affairs. Any repercussions should therefore also rest on their chain of command. As the article said, this all happened a year ago so it’s kind of old news to me and i think my issue with it is they were trying to use their uniform to make a political statement. Regardless of whether I agree with them or not, doing so in uniform, whether protesting a war, attending an occupy rally or promoting unity among bronies, that’s a no-go in my book.

  6. Maricela

    February 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    What an interesting take. Very brave of you to take on this matter.. Thank you for your honesty, something that people don’t do much of.

  7. TCHall

    February 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I remember (being retired longer than active duty these days) how hard it was for women to break into what were non-traditional rolls.

    The first two women to graduate from Kessler AFB’s electronics school in NavAids Maint were assigned to me because at 23 I was the “old married Sergeant” in the section.

    They worked their asses off to get into a school with some of the highest entrance score requirements in the AF, be the best at their jobs… and were entrusted by the USAF in due course to work on the Instrument Landing Systems that might have brought some of your aircraft to the threshold on a dark and stormy night.

    In fact the 18 year old tried TOO hard to be “one of the guys” but that’s another story.

    The A1C who WAS an “old married lady” with three kids and a husband to support did all that was asked of her and demanded respect only for what she did… not for any mysterious “feminist rights” that were being demanded in the civvie world.

    They deserved, and got, straight max ratings on their performance reports because they were the best they could possibly be.

    Maybe it IS time that we looked at the GUYS instead of the women… are THEY mature enough to understand that breastfeeding a baby isn’t a sexual display?

    Can they separate the nurturing of a Mom doing what is natural from adolescent fantasies?

    It comes down to the question are they mature enough to BE Warriors for our nation? Can they use their brains….

    If they are I don’t think how soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines feed their babies is the issue.

    As far as the wear of the uniform goes, it’s not much worse than wearing crusty battle dress down town for lunch… Discretion by the female in choosing when and where to feed her child would be desirable…

    An office rather than a broom closet would be a Good Management Decision by a supervisor… In fact my Out-Finding-Out time as an NCO would have left my office empty several times a day when I was leading troops

    You can’t run a bunch of techies, maintain 17 buildings, and keep an airfield full of mission critical equipment running from behind a desk. I doubt your job is much different in that respect.

    Overcoming the reluctance to meet the issue head on and deal with it as a wholistic situation that is going to end in a finite time, and handle it on a case by case basis is essential.

    DISCUSSING the issue (with appropriate chaperonage) is going to have to be part of the PRENATAL planning… A WITNESS is essential even if you’re a female supervisor to insure that it doesn’t turn into a he/she said later…

    Female supervisors SHOULD treat this as a PEOPLE problem, not a “Woman” problem…

    What would you do if a male had a condition that required treatment during the day and needed some privacy and consideration? I’m pretty sure you’d work around it without reference to gender…

    An SOP designating ground rules with the whole section involved and understanding them would be, IMHO, another Good Decision…

    LISTENING to the concerns of the group and THEN making the decision is just Good Managemt! (taking a vote OTOH can be a career stopper, don’t even think of it!)

    This can be coped with… especially if the DOD let this be something to be solved at the lowest possible level. Which, if memory serves, is where ADA complaints start…

    Think of it as a temporary disability, remember that “accommodation” has the word “reasonable” in front of it, and that bending over backwards isn’t necessarily good for the military member OR the morale of the unit.

    The LAST THING any unit needs is to become the “Test Case” that gets bumped up to a Federal Court… and my brothers and sisters in arms… YOU don’t want to be the supervisor, OIC, XO or CC that screws it up!

    Quite frankly, if you can’t handle this “problem” smoothly you might not be leadership material…

    • Mandy

      February 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Awesome reply. 100% agree.

    • True

      February 20, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Thank you! This is the first intelligent comment/opinion I’ve read so far in regard to this particular article and the photograph itself. Too bad so few people see otherwise.

  8. Doc Neaves

    February 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    TCHall…way to go, question the manhood and maturity of anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Well done. How about this for an anology. Let’s say guys had to “relieve themselves” for a sperm collection. Would you expect them to find time to do this in private? Or would you say ‘hey, maybe you’re just not WOMAN enough to let a man do what he needs to do in public’? The point is that public display of breastfeeding is absolutely and completely unecessary except for the unprepared and those wishing to score political points. This is EXACTLY the reason we complained about women in the military. AT ALL. As soon as you integrate the sexes, you have sexual harrassment where none existed before. Same with gays. You give gays rights, you cause too many problems in the ranks. There are too many ways gays can serve without giving in to their fantasies, same for women. It’s not close-minded, it’s brother-minded. Those men are my brothers, and we feel this way because of a bond that transcends time and distance, even ideology. I am also brother to my enemy, to anyone who pledges their life in the defense of their homeland and way of life. That bond is broken when you cross the line with personal relationships introduced into the battlefield. These things cause disunity, and they have a hard enough time staying disciplined and focused without these distractions.

    • Mandy

      February 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      You are obviously not medically educated at all. If a woman doesn’t “relieve” herself, she could get a breast infection which could lead to sepsis. This is 100% different than a man being horny and needing “relieve” himself.

    • TCHall

      February 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Maturity, certainly… and since I addressed both male and female supervisors the only manhood being challenged is apparently yours…

      Pushing the term “in public” into my post, that most certainly doesn’t contain that concept or those words, probably testifies to the intelligence versus emotion being brought to bear on the issue…

      Despite that… I will discuss the “in public” in the negative…

      NO if your “manhood” was suffering from a Poison Oak rash, and needed to be treated several times a day I’d expect you to be given some privacy to do so…

      Though I’d ask you to restrict your sperm collection activities to off duty time no matter how low your motility count might be…

      I suspect your extension of this situation to the battlefield is a disingenuous attempt to trivialize the duties of the majority of military slots that will never smell gun smoke anywhere but the range.

      Battles aren’t won unless bullets and food are there on time,… Intel saves lives, and morale depends on soldiers knowing their mail is being handled.

      It takes a massive backfield to put soldiers into battle.

      Women who have recently given birth are unlikely even in the gravest extreme to be assigned to an overseas war zone… If we are at war inside the US… all hands will be needed no matter their status…

      SEEING a woman breastfeeding her child (though that has nothing to do with MY suggestions) isn’t a “personal relationship” with the observer…

      Real discipline comes from within, I commend you on your recognition of your deficiencies in that area, but I would ask that you not project them on the military at large.

      As a retiree from way back to the days I worked with draftee conscripts and the draft evaders, like myself… (Those joining other services in preference to being drafted into the Army.)

      I have some experience with those who’s discipline was entirely externally enforced and those members with integrity and self discipline.

      Our current crop of warriors impress me with their dedication, intelligence, educational level, and discipline.

      They go back to war time after time with more corporate battlefield experience than any modern army since the invention of gunpowder…

      They have coped with the changes in equipment, added a level of sophistication that brings the warfighter’s gear to near science fictional capabilities, and keep looking forward to the next generation of commo, intel gathering, and other augmentation of their abilities…

      I suspect them of the ability to understand and face simple biological processes with a sense of dignity…

      Possibly even with a proprietary feeling that THEIR fellow service members are raising another generation of warriors and starting them off right.

    • Husband of active duty mom

      February 26, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      Are you really comparing breast feeding with jerking off???

  9. em

    February 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    The REAL issue here isn’t breastfeeding in uniform, the REAL issue is that there is pretty much NO protected maternity leave in the US. If a breastfeeding mother got 6 or 9 months off after giving birth YOU wouldn’t have to SEE it. I’m surprised to say I have no idea how much maternity leave women in the military get. I think that would be great info for this piece.
    Not that YOU being ready should have anything to do with it. Are there potential issues? Yes. As a working, breastfeeding mom I’m not 100% how I feel about this specific situation, but I do know that the issues and concerns it brings up are not YOU being READY to see it.
    With all due respect (usually when people preface a statement with that phrase, they’re about to get disrespectful) to moms in uniform, I’m just not sure if I’m ready to see uniformed women openly breastfeed in public.

    • The Don

      February 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      The writer’s point of view seems to be that he serves and isn’t ready to see women openly breastfeeding in uniform. He may represent thousands that feel the same way or stand alone. Either way, this concern could impact the military just like other social issues they face daily.

    • DesertFox

      February 26, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Women in the Army get 6 weeks of convalescent leave, with the option to take more of their paid leave if approved by their command. I would support more maternity leave, but not to shield people from seeing women breastfeeding.

      The two airmen I disapprove of, because it wasn’t just a picture that someone took, it was a picture that someone staged to use for an organization, and that is not right in uniform. I agree that it should be a pretty rare occasion for a military mom to have to breastfeed while IN UNIFORM. I had to do it once during the duty day while nursing my daughter, and that was because she was being a sick fussy little girl and refusing her bottle. However, I was in a treatment room, not out in public view.

  10. artemissj2

    February 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    This is just tacky. As a female in uniform, I do not approve of female military members whipping out their breasts in public to feed their kids. Go to the restroom or do it in the daycare center, not in front of your fellow military members! Nobody wants to see that.

    • crunchymilitarymom

      February 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      Go eat your lunch in a restroom too, then. That’s unsanitary and offensive. Way to stand with your sisters-in-arms. And none of us “whip out our breasts”. Swimsuits must greatly offend you, then.

      • True

        February 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm

        Yay!! I was just about to respond with nearly the same comment. Thanks Crunchy for doing it for me! The ignorance of some people is astounding!

  11. Takeyourhandsouttayourpocket

    February 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Solomon G. has spent a little too much time in clinic and away from the real AF. I’m going to be completely honest you are running your mouth about a situation which you have no clue about or any room to speak. Both of these fine women I sever with at Fairchild AFB. One is a close personal friend and someone I’ve stood with through this incident. The incident that took place you speak only to what you’ve read in the tabloid Air Force Times or thru news media outlets. Not fact or any actually substantiating documents. You also don’t realize the current law suit that’s taking place over this and how you may become the next target of deformation of character/liable/slander suit for A. As a writer being responsible for what you write and how you publish it and B. Copyright infringement using that photograph without permission of the owner. I suggest you tread carefully on this subject especially this issue. My advice to you… Take your hands outta your pockets and get focused back on the mission and your job. Not speculating or commenting. Just as you counsel your Airmen. I’m telling you as a military member you are responsible in or out of uniform for whats spoken, written, and published on social media outlets.

    • RU Rob

      February 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      Dude…relax or your going to end up in Solomon G’s clinic with a heart attack.

    • The Don

      February 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Ahh… You posted on the FB site too… Pretty angry are you? How much of the situation stated in his article directly slanders anyone named? Was there anything smearing their names? Or just repeating what has been regurgitated in the media? You stated it was in the AF Times… I know this is personal for you, but you’re missing the point of the article. Just relax dude. If the fight is going on in court already, you don’t need to fire anymore shots here…

    • JP

      February 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      I believe the word you are looking for is defamation, which means to slander. As opposed to deformation, which means to change the shape of something. Also, for their to be defamation of character there needs to be actual harm caused i.e. they lose their job, etc., and they would have to prove that what Solomon wrote actually led to the harm. As to the photograph, it’s everywhere on the internet it’s doubtful a case of copyright infringement would actually hold up. This is all a moot point since this is an opinion piece, and as we all should know, freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. You should try reading the constitution sometime, seeing as how you took an oath to defend it. Which brings to mind something we all should remember. I may disagree with everything you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

  12. Morgan

    February 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    The biggest problem I see in the picture is the clearly photoshopped boobs on the left.

  13. Jim Butler SGM Ret

    February 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I have been retired for longer than most of you guys have been alive, and I find that this is such a simple problem that it could be taken care of in a couple minutes by a reputable NCO.

  14. Mandy

    February 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I am an active duty military mom who breastfed my daughter and currently pregnant with another little one, also planning on breastfeeding. While I don’t agree w/ posting pictures like this online to purposefully cause drama, if a mother’s baby is hungry and she is in uniform, what else is she supposed to do? There are no military instructions that state, “You shall not breastfeed in uniform.” Some babies refuse to have blankets put on their head. Nursing in the bathroom is disgusting. Bathrooms are for urinating etc., how is that a sanitary place for a baby to eat??

    If I had to nurse my daughter in uniform I would try to be as discreet as I could and I would usually go to my car with the baby, or find a private place but if that was not available I would just do it. Which would you rather deal with? A mamma nursing her baby, or a baby screaming it’s head off b/c it’s hungry??

    • C175

      February 23, 2013 at 12:36 am

      The armed services of the United States of America are a profession of arms. When has it become acceptable to bring a child to work with you every day? I get the “bring your daughter/son to work” days and events oriented to show family members what its like to work in your boots, but to think that it is ok to raise your child at work because you are breast feeding is not the right answer. My work place is not a day care center.
      I have great respect for the women who serve their nation and it is great that so many opportunities are opining up to them across the board, but if YOU decide to have a child, and think that you must bring the child to work every day because you have to breast feed, you are probably in the wrong organization. If the military wanted children in the workplace, they would have issued you one. Just sayin…

  15. crunchymilitarymom

    February 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I’m a Marine and I breastfeed my 13 month old in uniform all the time. In public. In private. I also pump on a regular basis. I would love for someone to tell me I can’t, so that I could shove my foot (and countless laws, MCOs, etc) up their self-righteous behinds. God forbid I feed my child the best thing possible! I mean, seriously…has America become so shallow as to think that breastfeeding is inappropriate or disgusting? If I can’t feed my child in public in uniform, then that should go for formula feeding mothers as well. I don’t like seeing a bottle shoved in a baby’s mouth. Breastfeeding also helps women lose baby weight and prevents certain types of cancer, so I’m doing the military a favor. They don’t have to worry that I will not make weight or get ill as easily. And if you think anything I just said was stupid, look in a mirror. Some of the above comments are ludicrous.

    Summary: there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in the military.

  16. Afmedic

    February 20, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Ok I have to say I am Active Duty and I breast fed my daughter for the first 9 months. I fed her while in uniform, but never in the public eye, If we where going to be out (appointments etc), I would always bring pumped milk in a bottle with me, to hold her over until I could get to a private spot (exam room, Truck). As far as pumping while at work, yes I did. I can understand it may be viewed as “oh she is getting time off to sit there and I have to work”, but with all the people that sit around and BS and make small talk at work, or surf the net or even smoke, why can’t I have 15 min to pump? Not to mention not doing so, would only lead to pain and leaking and I also pumped on my lunch. when my daughter was 5 months, I participated in a base wide week long field exercise, I did not try to get out of it, I worked around the injects with my pumping and sat in a the back of one of the ambulances when I needed to pump. I have known many women who BF who go away to TDYs and training who BF. So Classifying all Breast Feeding mothers as the same is not fair.

    • The Don

      February 21, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Good input! Glad to see that you made it work!

  17. Buck

    February 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Woulda been an NJP, or possible discharge depending on how widely the pic was distributed, where I’m from

  18. Ado Christian

    February 20, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Anyone think these two bimbos are combat ready?

  19. Dave

    February 20, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    I like big titties, so I do not mind.

  20. UncleBuster

    February 21, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Combat Ready? Not sure.

    I don’t know about anybody else, but if those two kids on the left are done, I’d like to have a go…

  21. IDMT

    February 22, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Where do I start? First of all, great article. You have some cojones speaking on this topic as a male military member. That’s for sure. Secondly, to all of those “haters” out there, allow me to weed ya’ll out. If you know the female military members in the controversial photos, then consider yourself void. Why? Because it’s personal for you. It’s hard for you to consider both sides. I get it. But at the same time, limit your personal emotions especially when I read your post and I feel like you have a hit out on the writer of the article. Enough about that. Finally, my opinion on the matter. We all know as military members not to expose ourselves in the public eye while wearing our uniform promoting civil liberties. Why don’t we all go down to a anti-government rally in our uniforms? Oh yeah, because we can’t (I wouldn’t anyway but yes, I realize it‘s an extreme example). It’s called Article 134 of the UCMJ (that‘s just one). But lets get real for a minute. Regardless of what the UCMJ says, nobody wants to see that. Put it away. What would you like…attention? At this point you may be wondering my gender…I am a female active duty member…and medical. What?!?! We have to remember as an entire population, we have to think of everyone! I’m willing to bet that the majority would agree with the phrase, “put it away.” Not in the sense that you should not whip it out ever. Like I said, I’m medical so I understand the necessity behind having to pump. So, do what you do girl…but behind closed doors. Also, why would you need to breastfeed in uniform anyway. I believe that’s poor planning on your part. That’s right I said it. Ultimately as military members we are held to a higher standard and yes ladies and gentleman, this is one of those things that we just don‘t do in the publics eye…not yet anyway. Overall, very pleased with the article and I believe the writer came across with a well posed OPINION.

  22. Rick

    February 22, 2013 at 11:28 am

    First. Breastfeeding is as natural as breathing. Of course it should be fine to do it. Uniform or not.

    Could the image of her breastfeeding in uniform mar her leadership effectiveness?

    Now, that’s an interesting question. Almost /anything could/ mar someones perceived leadership effectiveness. Perception Vs Reality. Always subjective.

    I convinced one commander to stop trying to quit smoking while we where deployed because it. Crazy? It didn’t seem to be at the time. Some thought her moodiness from not having smokes was effecting her leadership. Was it? I can’t remember.

    Breastfeeding is hard work. Every 2 hours you need to need the little person. Same goes for having to pump milk or breastfeed. You have to lug the equipment everywhere. Have a way to refrigerate and store .. a way to clean everything .. on and on

    Anyway, it’s mostly a non issue. There aren’t many occasions in your lifetime your going to come upon a woman breastfeeding. Even less often will you run across a woman in uniform breastfeeding. If ever. If you do, just smile and walk on.

  23. SGT OhHellNo

    February 23, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Fuck no. I’m not sorry to say it… Hell freakin no. I’m a female going on 10 years in and this is bullshit. You can’t unzip your ACU top on duty, you can’t lift your freakin shirt up and expose your tits. If you, by regulation, are not permitted to be in any state of undress while in uniform, than what in the name of all that is logical would make anyone think that having their offspring feed off of their fun bags should change the enforcement or applicability of that very basic rule?
    It’s simple: keep your effing clothes on and stop doing dumb shit that knocks all of us who share a gender down a peg on the respect totem pole. If it is that important to a mother that her child be breastfed, (and trust me, with a degree in Biology and two kids, I get it, I do) then go pump or feed in PRIVATE. I did, it’s not that freaking hard. You go into a latrine or the wood line to pull your trousers down and take a shit, so the same level of decency should be expected even if you just whelped out a pup.
    Jesus Christ, how is this even an issue? WTF happened to common sense?

  24. Name

    February 23, 2013 at 1:55 am

    When you join, you agree to uphold the standards of appearance and conduct of the military. When you’re at work, you work. You should NOT have your child with you. This leads to pumping, reasonable accomodation for new mothers. Roger, personal issue, go take care of it, report back. You do not go out on the town, to dinner, run errands at walmart etc in uniform, this is the STANDARD. So, explain to me, if your child is at home or someone is watching, then you have to go home… How you would be in a position EVER to breastfeed in uniform in public? The answer is you won’t. If you pumped like you were supposed during your duty hours, you’re all set.

    PS What’s wrong with the bathroom? It’s ok to take your kid into a diaper changing station in the bathroom but it’s not ok to walk in there and do your routine for breast feeding? It’s not as if the kid is gonna be licking a toilet seat now is it? Especially if we are talking AT WORK , since you’re in your duty uniform and already established there is NO excuse for being in uniform in public and breast feeding. So you’re at work, this example is AF, the cleanest, most uptight branch. You have bigger problems if your latrines are that dirty. Any other branches billets aren’t good enough, you get a “hardship” stipend , and you can’t be in a bathroom for a few minutes? Monday mornings before formation in the Army I’d have eaten of the toilet seat our latrines were so clean. Oh, but right… you can’t follow the standards….

    This is not an issue of should military moms breast feed. This is about military bearing. I didn’t walk around flashing my bare man chest to people in uniform , and it’s socially acceptable for men to be shirtless. Oh, what’s that you say? This picture was staged and published for an agenda/group not endorsed or approved my the Airforce, or the Washington Air National Guard? Yes, there is your problem right there.

    To the guy who said we need to look at men and their chilish behavior…. I’m PRO breast feeding, but I do not want to see a breast shown in public for maternal needs. I love boobs, boobs are great. But what about that kid who hasn’t had the talk with their parents yet? Breasts ARE sexual, they are the physical representation of many womens outward sexuality and feminemity. The truth is, as long as women wear bras and shirts and the breast is a rarely seen thing, the view will always be the same. You’re discussing a complete 180 on societal norms, and that is not going to happen. You would not subject your own kids to this, why would you subject some one elses? If your baby is not one who likes the blanket, that dictates your action as an adult and parent on what to do. Be an adult, and a parent, AND be respectful of other people. Natural or not, unless you’re at Mardi Gras, chances are you wouldn’t want people staring at you with your breast out…

    Funny how so many people have no clue what they are argueing about, especially from those who wear the uniform. You want equal rights and treatment, adhere to the STANDARDS!

  25. Brian

    February 23, 2013 at 2:34 am

    I don’t care what women do with THEIR bodies and THEIR babies, but openly in uniform…I think a line should be drawn there. Don’t get me wrong, I personally find it great to grab a peek at some tits no matter what the setting, but I just find it unprofessional to do it openly in uniform. Behind closed doors, yeah go for it, no one will see; but we aren’t even allowed to have our hands in our pockets in uniform, so breastfeeding is pushing it.

    Besides, if most people in this country have no problem with women flaunting their goods at a Superbowl halftime show or in a Victoria’s Secret ad (settings which objectify and sexualize breasts), then they have absolutely no place complaining about women using them for what they’re intended.

  26. tango alpha

    February 23, 2013 at 4:21 am

    hey jarhead get off your high horse and stop with the attitude its not that we care that you or any other female breast feeds in public its the fact they they not only did so in public but they are in uniform we that sever our country are held to a higher standard then those that do not and with that being said we know better than to do anything that will not only bring shame to our selves but also the uniform witch we ware so it is my firm belief that what they did was wrong only because they was in Uniform while Breast Feeding in Public

  27. 2L82Pray

    February 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Phùng Thị Chính was a Vietnamese noblewoman who fought alongside the Trưng sisters to defeat Chinese occupation. Legend says she gave birth on the front lines and carried her newborn in one arm and a sword in the other as she fought to open the ranks of the enemy.

    The Trung sisters are national heroes of Vietnam and raised armies of almost All female warriors, headed by female Generals.

    If you can breast feed and wield a sword in combat, go for it

  28. Bob

    February 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Men and women together in the military have got to get over themselves and realize that they have different missions and needs. Women have babies and the equipment to feed them. I do think a little decorum is required here and women need to excuse themselves to a more private place or cover up the feeding with a blanket or something.
    On the other hand, realizing the military’s needs, if you want to have babies then consider staying home. I’m sure the military would have some problem with you holding up a deployment because you were breast pumping.
    Really, I have no problem with it as it is a biological function, but it is not a right. Consider your situation and plan accordingly.
    It is just one of the bumps on the road to integration of both sexes into the military and it can be worked out.

  29. Mandy

    February 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    This is just gross. I have no issues with the woman on the right or the photo within the article. But to push 2 infants to your exposed breasts creating cleavage in public is gross. I breastfed for 14 months. No one ever saw my cleavage. It’s just not necessary to do that.

    • SmarterThanTheAverageBear

      February 25, 2013 at 3:41 am

      How would you hold up the heads of hungry twins (or maybe you are extended breastfeeding and have two different age kids, whatever) and cover your cleavage? Personally, I have only two hands. My priority is making sure my children are fed and they will not be forced to eat their meals in a bathroom or a hot/cold car or with a blanket on their heads, just as you would find that intolerable and ridiculous.
      But then again, I’m not in the military. If I were though, they would not be coming with me to work. They would be at daycare/CDC. However, I would not go home and change before picking them up. Let’s play pretend for a minute. I’m just returning to work after maternity leave. I pick my kids up from daycare and on the way home, I remember that we’re out of milk. Dang, gotta go to the store. Does it make sense to go home, get everyone out if the car, change clothes, pack everyone back up, and then go to the store and make dinner later by an hour or so? No. You just go to the store. Halfway through Wal-Mart, the baby is hungry. Do you make a 2 month old scream through 20 minutes of waiting in line and then the drive home or do you feed her? I choose to feed her and I’ll be [email protected] if I feed her in a Wal-Mart bathroom!
      Bottom line, you can’t explain to a newborn that they just have to wait. I’m pretty sure that a newborn screaming is a lot more distracting and offensive than a mom feeding her baby, uniform or not. Besides, it’s not like I’d be walking around with my breast hanging out. She eats, it gets put back in its place. No one should see anything unless they’re staring and TRYING to see.

  30. morgan pruden

    February 24, 2013 at 3:34 am

    if women cant do as they please like breast feeding while in the army i dont think anyone should bitch they are defending you guys and none of you deserve it you should all be left out to die civilian or military you should all be ashamed i wouldnt protect any of you your the ones this world should be rid of way i see it you all need a round to the back of the head

  31. sergio

    February 24, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Those are some nice tits, I suddenly have an urge to feed on my wife’s breast.

  32. Papa Spence

    February 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Every woman should have the right to breast feed. And most men need to get over that. However that right does not mean the right to abuse social norms purely because you are a mother. The uniform is work attire and as such should be worn at work. At home most prefer not to be in uniform. While at work you should not have your child with you so there should be very few situations where a woman would be in uniform and have the baby with her to breast feed. It is a contrived situation to push a feminist social statement. Yes a mother who ran home to pick up a sick baby and is sitting in the hospital waiting room may need to feed while in uniform but that is an exception rather then the norm and there is still no reason not to be modest too.

  33. Paul F

    February 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I think the main issue and point here is that two UNIFORMED military personnel were photographed actively promoting a political agenda,…

    I know they are Air Force but the Army policy under Army Reg. 670-1 (3FEB05), chapter 1, section 10, paragraph j states:

    j. Wearing Army uniforms is prohibited in the following situations:
    (1) In connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests, or when engaged in off-duty civilian employment.
    (2) When participating in public speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies, or public demonstrations, except as authorized by competent authority.
    (3) When attending any meeting or event that is a function of, or is sponsored by, an extremist organization.
    (4) When wearing the uniform would bring discredit upon the Army.
    (5) When specifically prohibited by Army regulations.

    I have no issues what-so-ever with a mother breastfeeding their child.

    I do have issues with PROFESSIONAL MILITARY personnel not following the regulations that have been issued to us to follow. We have all come across rules and regs we don’t all like. Does that mean we just do what we want without thinking there might be fallout or UCMJ??

    As a stupid example,…while it is natural and exceptable to urinate, one also knows not do it in uniform on a public street while being photographed for an article or cause. Just ask a US Marine!

    Just my 2 cents! RLTW!

  34. SrA Snuffy

    March 21, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Ok, first, lets address the biggest issue. The uniform was used to promote a cause, which, let’s be honest, is not permissible. I admire that these women have chosen two of the most noble things a person can do, be a parent, and a servicemember. Here’s the issue, they’re baring their boobs while in uniform. Yes, they’re being good mothers and feeding their kids, but it’s not the most professional look to have their breasts hanging out of their uniforms. If you want to be a mom in the military, and you want to breastfeed, don’t do it in public in uniform, find an empty office and take care of it.

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By Jack Mandaville I’m a born and bred Yankee. After my enlistment in the Marine Corps, I moved to Texas...