New mother's expressway at Whiteman
By 2nd Lt. Allen Palmer, 509 Bomb Wing Public Afairs
/ Published September 15, 2017
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Parenting is a full-time job and as any parent knows, the hours are unconventional to say the least. At the office, at home or in the middle of the night, it doesn’t matter, once you are a parent, you are on call anytime, anywhere. New mothers in particular have tremendous demands on their attention and time. This is why the 509th Bomb Wing (BW) is doing its part to aid in the transition for new mothers once they return to work at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Missouri.
The 509th BW recognizes that breastfeeding promotes optimum growth and development for infants as well as carries many health advantages for new mothers. In support of this, the creation of “Mother’s Expressways” or expressing lounges have been implemented around base. The Medical Group (MDG) also received a brand new “Leche Lounge” or expressing pod for new mothers located at the 509th MDG. The Leche Lounge benchmarks the first expressing pod of its kind in the Air Force.
The expressways can be found at 10 locations around base and guarantee a minimum of one room within each group and wing staff agency. In order for an expressing lounge to be approved as an acceptable Mother’s Expressway, the space has to satisfy certain criteria. Primary being, a location that is secure, sanitized, private and equipped with an electrical outlet. Members who use the new rooms will share the responsibility of ensuring the designated areas are kept clean through the use of proper hand hygiene and by sanitizing all contacted areas with antimicrobial wipes provided by the units.
The Air Force also aids the transition of new mothers with Air Force Instruction 44-102 which states: each on-duty military and civilian member who is breastfeeding will have ample time to express breast milk and that supervisors at all levels authorize break time for nursing mothers and consider flexible schedules to balance their needs and the mission requirements.
“Whiteman AFB wants our working mothers to know how important they are to the Air Force,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melia Baxter, a dental assistant assigned to the 509th MDG and project lead. “The new Expressways at Whiteman are a testament that we heard and understand [our Whiteman mothers'] needs. The Expressways will provide a safe and comfortable space for the mothers to express breast milk. They were specifically designed for our Air Force mothers, and will be available whenever the need arises.” With the new Mother's Expressway lounges located around base and the first ever Leche Lounge located at the 509th MDG, Team Whiteman is making sure new mothers are getting what they need to be successful. In honor of this, the 509th MDG will be celebrating the creation of the new rooms with an official ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 26, 2017.
To find an expressing location closest to you, contact the 509th MDG New Parent Support Program Manager at 660-687-4589.