Breastfeeding and the military has been a recurring theme throughout my life. Let me explain.
I am an Army Brat. My mom was in the military and had three babies while active duty, and she breastfed all three of us at a time when the Army was not very supportive of breastfeeding. Because I watched her breastfeed my younger siblings, I knew this was the only way that I wanted to feed my babies. She was my first breastfeeding role model.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school. My best friend got pregnant and married at the young age of 18. Before she had her son, her husband joined the Air Force. As a young mom and new military spouse, with so much going on in her life, she made the decision to breastfeed her son. This was my first opportunity to support someone through her breastfeeding journey. She was my second breastfeeding role model.
Ten years later, my husband and I made the decision for him to join the Army. Our first duty station was in Kaiserslautern, Germany, where we were so far away from our friends and family. Shortly after arriving, we became pregnant and he began preparing for a deployment that would have him miss the birth of our first child. Upon seeing the positive pregnancy test, I immediately knew that I would breastfeed our baby. I was so excited that I would get to bond with our baby through breastfeeding, just as my role models had before me.
In my early pregnancy, I was introduced to a few of the board members of Mom2Mom KMC over a lunch with a mutual friend. From that day on, I was surrounded by amazing, empowering, breastfeeding women. I had found an entire group of women who were breastfeeding role models. I had found my village. I did not realize how important these women were in my life until I gave birth to our daughter. Delivery of our daughter was much tougher than I imagined especially with my husband so far away, he was the one person that I wanted by my side. I ended up having a c-section after 43 hours of labor which was not my plan. Immediately I was surrounded by my village of women who gave us love and support from the moment my little Lylah came earth-side. These women helped me get through a poor latch, mastitis, a few bites, and helped me celebrate so many triumphs.
It was then that I knew that I wanted to help support other moms in their breastfeeding journeys, I wanted to become a breastfeeding role model. I became a Peer Mentor through Mom2Mom and was able to help moms with basic breastfeeding questions and concerns. When my daughter was 9 months old, I became a Certified Lactation Counselor and was able to further help moms and babies in my overseas military community. Because of the support that I received, Lylah breastfed until she was 25 months and 7 days old.
I was reminded of the importance of a strong support system when I had my second daughter, Mya. We had moved to Fort Bliss, TX a year prior and I did not find my village. Delivery went much more smoothly the second time around, my husband was present and I was able to have a successful, medication-free VBAC in just 9 hours. Unfortunately, Mya had a terrible latch and I had cracks in my nipples the size of the Grand Canyon by day three. I was so sad to not have my face-to-face support system this time around. I was able to seek help from an IBCLC at Baby Cafe and got the support that I needed to get a better latch and help my poor nipples heal. Shortly after having Mya, I decided that Fort Bliss could benefit from having a Mom2Mom chapter and I became a community Ambassador for Mom2Mom Fort Bliss. It has been a great honor to again provide breastfeeding support to my fellow military spouses and Active Duty mommas. I hope that I have been able to be a breastfeeding role model for other mommas and that I have helped them achieve their breastfeeding goals in a loving and supportive environment.
Photo credit: J. Schumacher Photography
Megan first became involved with Mom2Mom during her first pregnancy in 2012 while stationed in Germany. Mom2Mom provided breastfeeding support to her during the first 6 months of her daughter's life while her husband was deployed. Realizing the value of peer support, Megan became more involved with the organization and earned the Volunteer of the Year award in 2014. She completed the certifications for CLC (2014) and ANLC (2015). After PCSing to Fort Bliss, Texas, she wanted to continue her involvement with the organization and became the Education Director for Mom2Mom Global and the Mom2Mom Ft. Bliss Ambassador in 2015. Megan is a Registered Nurse and has one daughter age 2.5 whom she breastfed for 25 months, and is currently breastfeeding her second daughter.