TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) --
Thanks to the feedback from Airmen and the work of the Women’s Initiative Teams, efforts to expand support of working mothers across Air Force Sustainment Center bases continue, including access to lactation rooms and pods, reclassification of wireless breast pumps to allow entrance into secure areas and easy access to maternity uniforms.
Tinker, Hill and Robins Air Force Bases continue to work with their local Women’s Initiative Teams to identify, create and maintain private, securable and clean lactation spaces.
Megan Kane, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Armament Sustainment Division, is the creator of the Robins AFB, digital lactation room map. “Our primary goal was to provide current information to connect people who needed to use a lactation room with the contact people for requesting use of those rooms,” she said. “We also wanted to bring awareness of the requirement for lactation rooms for nursing Airmen to everyone on base.
“The map was created through a program used by Civil Engineering called the AFMC Portal and we made it accessible through a QR code to registered users. It allows users to easily scan and request use of a nearby room.”
Maj. Solange Douglass, Airborne Air Control Squadron and Tinker AFB Women’s Initiative Team; Jessica Todd, Tinker AFB Federal Women’s Program Manager; and Stephanie Knight, Tinker AFB Affirmative Employment Program Manager, currently are working on replicating the electronic map for their base. It will be accessible through the AF Portal page and additional information will be housed on the Air Force Connect app under DEIA Resources. A lactation room checklist to stay compliant with AFI 36-3013 is being built for Hill, Rinker and Robins Air Force bases.
Lactation pods are another addition to the bases. Hill AFB’s lactation pod is available to all mothers who need it with no time limit. Tinker AFB is adding one at the 552nd Training Support Squadron, with the possibility of another one on the way.
Additionally, access to secure spaces while wearing a Bluetooth-enabled breast pump is now available to nursing Airmen. Wireless devices such as these have become more popular in recent years because they can allow mothers to pump without much noise and while clothed.
A memo specifying that Bluetooth-enabled breast pumps qualified as portable electronic devices and will not be prohibited from Air Force Materiel Center secure spaces was issued by AFMC last year, expanding access to areas for Airmen to better perform their duties. These portable, wearable devices do have some restrictions. They should not have audio, video, photo or Wi-Fi capabilities, and should have the Bluetooth features disabled when they enter secure spaces. Once manufacturer’s technical specifications are submitted and approved, Airmen will be able to enter those spaces uninhibited by the pump.
The Maternity Uniform Pilot Program, or “Rent the Camo,” is a pilot program through the Department of the Air Force to provide free maternity uniform items to pregnant Airmen and Guardians at 10 bases. Inspired by this program, the AFSC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Program reached out to Airman’s Attic and other resources on the three bases to provide information on uniform sharing and reselling. The hope is, Knight said, that if the pilot project takes off, AFSC bases will be ready to implement it quickly.