Army Mom: Pumping at the Range

Any Mom who’s breastfed knows how challenging it can be. It’s not for every Mom & that’s fine too. I never thought I’d be one to breastfeed, I certainly never expected to enjoy it. It does feel good to be able to produce all the food my baby needs though. Money is a huge stressor in my life sometimes too, so simply avoiding the stress of worrying about being able to afford food for my daughter is amazing too. I have this incredible bond with her thanks to breastfeeding and it’s very rewarding for me & I think it is for her in a way too.

If you’d read any of my previous posts you know that I am determined to reach our breastfeeding goal of 1 year. If you’re new to my page, I like to point out that I am a first time mom and a first generation breastfeeding mom. I didn’t start off with confidence on this journey but I’ve slowly gained it through educational classes, research, support groups, breastfeeding mom friends, and just good ole experience. In this process of learning, I try to share my knowledge and lessons with anyone who wants to “listen.”

This lesson is all about being a breastfeeding mom while also fulfilling my duty to my country. I’ve been an Army Reservist for almost 11 years now. My first weekend back to drill, is mandatory rifle qualification. Now, luckily enough my command approved me to stay at home at night and care for my daughter. I fortunately live local to the base we go to the range on. This made things a bit more ideal and a tad easier to accomplish but either way I want to share some tips & tricks.

First off, legally I am to be provided a sanitary room with a lock on it to pump during training. I get it. Know your laws. However, I’m also realistic and I want my time to be productive and that of others as well. I went into the weekend prepared to find a semi-secluded area and pitch a makeshift tent for privacy. I was thinking maybe a poncho between two vehicles or something. Being a medical battalion we had ambulances on the range so I was fortunately able to utilize the back of one and shut the doors to pump. Bonus, they even ran the AC for me a couple times. Once you’ve got the place planned out, what supplies will you need? Here is my list.

  1. Small cooler on wheels.

The terrain was a bit rough so some bigger wheels would have been nice but it worked.

2. Pack cooler with plenty of ice.

As an extra, I put a yeti style cup with a lid in the cooler so that I could squeeze my pumped milk bags into the cup before burying it in the ice. It definitely helped keep the milk colder as the day went on and the ice melted. Some other moms recommended dry ice. You could do that too. I made sure to leave a little space for my pump parts to be able to fit.

3. Diaper bag or assault pack with the following items…

  • Pump parts (flanges, tubes, bottles, extra washers, etc)
  • Electric pump base
  • Battery powered charger & batteries
  • spare batteries
  • Pump sanitizer spray
  • Baby wipes or sanitizing wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pogey bait (snacks)
  • Breast pads (especially if it’s hot and you’re sweating a lot – bring a few sets)
  • Pump bags (bring plenty for the day or whole weekend)
  • Permanent marker
  • Nipple cream

4. Watch or phone

You’ll want to set reminders, trust me! When you’re running around on missions and trying to qualify, you’re probably not paying too much attention to the time. Setting reminders a little before you need to pump can be very useful. Try to stick to your baby’s regular feeding schedule. I like to try to keep my pumping schedule as close to my daughter’s feeding schedule as possible. I shoot for a 2 hour window. I aim for no more than 30 minutes before the estimated time she eats and an hour after. I listen to my body too. I really didnt have to worry much about engorgement since it was hot outside. Plus, photos on your phone of your little can help with let down and result in higher quantities of pumped milk.

5. Gallon of water

We already know staying hydrated is key while breastfeeding and while training! You’re going to want to drink enough water.

Know your rights and breastfeeding laws. Keep up to date on them as they may change also. Be open and communicate with your leadership. If you need to, seek an advocate within your leadership or maybe your unit’s FRG could be helpful as well. After all, they are they to support families and often have a more direct connection to the commander. Of course, always utilize your chain of command first and properly. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky like I am and have support from your unit and your leadership.

Happy Breastfeeding journey to you!

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