No breastfeeding mom has it easy, and when you add a job that takes a mother away from her breastfed child, it adds another layer of difficulty. But for moms whose jobs take them far away for long stretches of time—well, they deal with complexities many people may never consider.
That's probably why the Coast Guard has rolled out a new program, one that will benefit breastfeeding mothers in the service immensely. The program, which was announced last week, will cover shipping costs for service members who mail breast milk back to their children.
How incredible is that? The difficulties breastfeeding moms in the service run into are enormous, and shipping costs alone may prohibit service moms from keeping up the breastfeeding relationship. This type of reimbursement program may be just what many of them need in order to keep going.
Here's how the program will work, according to Military.com:
The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance-funded program will cover up to $750 a year per household in shipping costs for mothers who need to mail pumped breast milk back to their children. This program is set to benefit active-duty personnel, Public Health Services officers and Navy chaplains, reserve members of active duty status, Coast Guard civilian employees, and spouses of employees during business travel.
In order to qualify for this, employees need to be away from home on temporary duty, deployment, traveling on business or have excused absences. Reimbursement is available when moms are away from their children for over 72 hours, and requests must be submitted within 60 days of return.
This isn't the first time in recent memory women in the military have seen positive change where the rights of breastfeeding moms are concerned. The benefits these improvements create for moms and their babies are obvious, but this new program will also benefit the organization—policies that help mothers pay off in the long run. Women reportedly account for close to 15% of the Coast Guard's employees, but tend to leave their positions at higher rates than male employees. By rolling out policies that support working mothers, the Coast Guard may improve these number.
Other workplaces ought to take note.
We are slowly starting to see progress for working moms, with companies adopting more generous parental leave policies and working to help moms who hope to breastfeed their children even when distance is a factor. We hope this is just another item on a long list of ways in which the world helps nursing mamas.
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