The 183rd AES Creates a New Space for Nursing Mothers

  • Published
  • By 1st LT. Kiara Spann
  • 172nd Airlift Wing

Mothers at the 172nd Airlift Wing now have a dedicated location to privately and comfortably breastfeed or pump. A lactation room for nursing mothers was officially opened in the 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron on May 7, 2023.

The makeup of the 183rd AES is unique because the squadron is made up of a large number of women. And the need for having a dedicated nursing room was realized last year when there were multiple nursing mothers at one time within the squadron.

During one of the squadron's post unit training assembly meetings, Senior Master Sgt. Melissa Herron, the senior enlisted leader of the 183rd AES, asked what some of the unit's needs were that had not received closure, and Senior Airman Adam Perry re-sparked the discussion of a lactation room.

Perry recalled last year when there were multiple nursing mothers within the squadron, and it was difficult for them to find a space to pump without feeling as though they were impeding on the other members' workspace within the unit.

“We have a lot of shared office space throughout our squadron, so there were times when mothers needed to pump, and they would have to lock out their officemates,” said Perry, an aeromedical evacuation technician assigned to the 183rd AES. “We wanted to create a permanent space where mothers could have privacy and feel comfortable.”

The thoughtfully designed "Mothers Room" is outfitted with a refrigerator, a comfortable chair, a table, storage space and other items nursing mothers may need to have a cozy, clean and private place to pump.

"As a young nursing mother, I would have loved a room like this," said Herron. "I've been in the military for 21 years and I've seen the entire culture shift. We are more aware of our members' circumstances and that they sometimes carry over into their work life, so introducing this room is a way of recognizing those circumstances and alleviating some of the stressors we can control."

Herron said that establishing morale today looks completely different than what it looked like years ago. It’s not about forced fun, but its about knowing your people, listening to them and identifying their needs so that we can assist them with a healthy work-life balance.

This space is not only supporting Airmen of the 183rd AES, but it’s also a space for nursing mothers across the Wing and mothers that may need somewhere to nurse while on base during squadron-hosted family events.

“I couldn’t be prouder to work side by side with the Airmen we have,” said Herron. “They inspire me every single day to make these changes. They are the ones who are cultivating change, and we have the power to execute it.”