BATTLE CREEK, Mich. --
There is no doubt that maintaining a full-time military career and pouring your soul into a family is challenging. Members of the 110th Operations Group saw a need for full-time working mothers that could be met. Thanks to their advocacy, the 110th OG is the proud owner of a Mamava lactation pod, one of six in the Air National Guard.
The 110th OG currently has 28 females attached to their squadron who report to the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Michigan. The mission provides Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Before having the pod in their building, mothers would have to travel to another location to pump, negatively impacting the mindset and environment necessary for production.
“Imagine a new mother trekking from one building to another in the winter to pump. It was important to have a designated space in our building that is clean, comfortable, and relaxing that can help in so many ways to ease the transition back to work after having a baby,” said Maj. Nicole Pavone, 110th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations.
Mothers returning to work from maternity leave, encountered challenges trying to maintain a consistent pumping schedule.
“While leadership was very supportive, I ran into issues of not having a secure place to pump and having to move to different offices," said Master Sgt. Amethyst Moore, 110th Operations Group support staff. "This made sticking to a schedule and pumping enough to support the needs of my second child very difficult.”
Scheduled pumping can relieve physical and mental stress for new mothers transitioning between home and work. When a mother's lactation schedule is interrupted or altered in any way it disrupts the body’s signal to produce breast milk. This reduces milk supply and the length of time a mother can breastfeed.
“Thankfully, I have been able to breastfeed my fourth child for over 10 months and we are still going strong,” said Moore. “With over 13 years in the military, having the current leadership that is willing to invest in supporting the families working for them is priceless.”
Considering that this is the sixth Mamava pod to find its way into National Guard locations, Pavone has provided information about the pod to advocate at the NGB level for funding for other units.
“The resource manager for the ANG ISR program reached out to me after our request and asked if should be considered for the other ANG ISR units,” said Pavone. “We are hoping this is something they will be able to fund for the other ANG units for the future.”
Adding this new resource to support mothers has opened the doors for other women considering a career at the 110th Operations Group.
“We need to think about the future and we are always in need of diverse, qualified members to support the mission,” said Pavone. “This win will hopefully show young females that we not only understand how hard it is to be a mom and work full time, but that 110th OG leadership and the women of this group believe we can make it a little easier to accomplish both.”
The 110th OG women have made their space especially inviting with a beach-themed backdrop, a rocking chair, and a rug. There is also a refrigerator strictly for breastmilk storage.
“The pod is made for easy sterilization to provide a clean area to pump, so every surface is made to be wiped down,” said Moore. “However, feeling relaxed and cozy helps promote how much milk one pumps, so I bring a small blanket to sit on or wrap around my shoulders for added comfort.”
Innovation was built into the pod, allowing mothers to connect their phones for a more tailored experience.
“I would highly recommend downloading the free Mamava app. It is extremely easy to use and has the added feature of being able to dim the lights and turn the fan up or down to make it a more relaxing environment,” said Moore.
Giving our members the resources to promote their health and wellbeing provides them an opportunity to accomplish the mission at work and home.
“The saying “take care of your Airmen and they will take care of the mission” is something that sticks out to me when it comes to the Mamava,” Moore said. “New and current members have a prime example of leadership taking care of their Airmen, and it shows what the current Group climate is. Knowing you have the resources and support to take care of your family is invaluable.”