Women

Army Medic Awarded For Inspiring Defence Breastfeeding Support Network

Lance Corporal Natasha Day has set up a cross-service network to support breastfeeding mums in the military community.

A soldier who has been working with the military to set up a defence breastfeeding network has been recognised with an award.

Lance Corporal Natasha Day, a combat medical technician, returned to work last year when her son Charlie was just six months old.

She wanted to continue breastfeeding, but struggled to find the answers in the policy on how to go about it.

LCpl Day started working with the military to provide breastfeeding mothers with the support they need, setting up a breastfeeding network that now supports more than 600 families.

Recently, the soldier was named the 'Inspirational Woman in Defence 2021', following a campaign launched by Defence Discount Service to celebrate the achievements and efforts of women working within the Armed Forces.

She said: "When I first started this, I put out the feelers on the Army parents' network and said 'how would people feel about this?'.

"There were so many messages, people coming to me [saying]: 'Well, I had to stop breastfeeding because my chain of command told me that I couldn't and I couldn't deploy.'"

LCpl Day also said some were also the subject of derogatory comments.

"It's hard enough being a mum as it is, why make it worse for people?" she added.

The support group initially started as the Army Breastfeeding Network, but it soon became tri-service and the Defence Breastfeeding Network was founded in June 2020.

Defence Breastfeeding Network 23042021 CREDIT BFBS
Members of the network spoke to Forces News.

Its aim is to offer support and spread awareness to help new mothers and provide a safe place for women across the three services to talk about breastfeeding or other matters.

LCpl Day continued: "Military families, we move so much, you can never guarantee how long you are going to be somewhere.

"This group isn't going anywhere, it doesn't matter whether you are posted overseas, it's still going to be here for support whenever people need it," she added.

It's a network that is proving increasingly popular.

One mother, Charlotte Hooper, said: "If I didn't have this group, I would be really lost, in all honesty."

Corporal Jasmin Pinder, Royal Lancers, A Squadron, said: "Having a baby, at home and being a new mum, and not having your family near you is really hard. It was a really scary world to have a new baby.

"Luckily, we are in an age where everything is online, and we've got a whole group of women that are all going through the same thing, it just made people come together so nicely."

Posters have been produced to raise awareness of the network and places where women can go to express milk while they're on duty are being created.

LCpl Day is also looking at the possibility of service issue t-shirts with easy access for breastfeeding and courses to educate managers at all levels.