SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Robyn Roche-Paull, founder of the “Breastfeeding in Combat Boots” nonprofit organization, partnered with Scott’s Mom2Mom organization to speak about breastfeeding in the military April 6.
Roche-Paull has received numerous awards for her book, Breastfeeding in Combat Boots: A Survival Guide to Breastfeeding Successfully while Serving in the Military. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Nursing and Maternal Child Health and has spent the last decade supporting and educating breastfeeding mothers in uniform.
The Navy veteran said her personal experience inspired her to advocate for other military moms.
“Breastfeeding maintains mission and unit readiness,” said Roche-Paull. “It is just as important for the father and the mom as well. It reduces time off work that is taken to care for a sick child and boosts unit retention. When parents feel supported, they are more likely to reenlist.”
She discussed various ways that women in male-dominated environments can be discouraged to breastfeed, so she encourages mothers to demonstrate self-confidence while caring for their young.
“Don’t make a goal, just do it,” she said.
The presentation covered breastfeeding military regulations, resources, case studies and practices. She shared advice on the basics of pumping, and provided specific details on how to manage in the field and through deployments. Those in attendance discussed challenges they have faced breastfeeding in uniform and shared advice on different products and techniques.
She said that breastfeeding makes the mother and baby stronger with various health benefits including reduced risk of breast cancer, allergies, asthma, and various respiratory infections. It reduces the cost of healthcare with the various benefits that breastfeeding provides through preventing pediatric diseases and reducing the need for formula.
Breastfeeding can be challenging and not all mothers can produce as much as others. Those who overproduce often donate to milk banks who aid mother’s in need. Overall, though, she said she celebrates mothers who have been successful in the past and encourages others to stay motivated. She did this by presenting “Breastfeeding Combat Boots” challenge coins to all mothers who have successfully breastfed from four to six months.
The author herself received two challenge coins thanking her for sharing her passion and support to Team Scott from Col. John Weatherwax, 375th Medical Operations Squadron commander and Navy Lt. Omega McNeese-Haliburton, a recruiting officer and board member of Scott’s Mom2Mom chapter.
Military parents who would like more information or resources are encouraged to contact Mom2Mom or visit Roche-Paull’s website at www.breastfeedingincombatboots.com.