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Dozens of lactation pods have been installed at USAF bases at different RAF sites in the UK (Picture: US Air Force).

Breastfeeding pods installed for nursing servicewomen at US Air Force's UK bases

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Dozens of lactation pods have been installed at USAF bases at different RAF sites in the UK (Picture: US Air Force).

Breastfeeding pods and rooms have been created at RAF Fairford and other United States military air bases in the UK, in a bid to support servicewomen and new mothers while on duty.

The US Air Force (USAF) has installed the 'lactation pods' and a series of rooms to provide a clean and safe place where mothers can go to breastfeed.

After the US Surgeon General recommended that mothers should breastfeed for at least a year, breastfeeding spaces are now said to be a growing necessity in the US military to support female staff, aircrew, and their families.

Breastfeeding for the recommended year can sometimes prove difficult for members of the armed forces while on duty or spouses visiting the base.

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For comfort, the nursing mother can dim the lights and control the airflow inside the pod (Picture: US Air Force).

"The lactation pods are important to have in the 501st for several reasons: first, it helps us support the surgeon general's goal of encouraging mothers to breastfeed for at least one year," said Carlina Moreland 501st CSW health promotion co-ordinator.

She added that "the deployment of the lactation pods and rooms was pivotal", and installing these rooms highlighted that "women's health is a core component of a ready force", and ultimately supports the mission.

Ms Moreland also spoke about some of the struggles servicewomen had to face prior to the lactation spaces being created and why the new areas became a priority.

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Pods can be unlocked using a free app (Picture: US Air Force).

"Every August, Health Promotion shares the stories of our airmen during Breastfeeding Awareness Month. One story, in particular, that stood out to me and was a huge driving force behind getting this across the line was from an airman who was told to pump in a portajohn (portable restroom)," she said.

The health promotion co-ordinator added: "Stories like this are not unique. They happen across the Department of Defense and throughout the country.

"I hope our new lactation spaces will change the story and highlight our efforts to make a huge impact on our airmen and their families' lives."

The pods can be connected as a network and service personnel and their families can download a free app that shows them the closest pod and which ones are available to use. Users can also unlock the pods using the app on their phone.

This comes after the announcement which will see the US Air Force relocate the headquarters of its European combat-readiness wing to RAF Fairford and the Ministry of Defence announced a £25m upgrade of RAF Fairford's airfield to support American B-52 bombers.

Meanwhile, breastfeeding campaigner Lance Corporal Natasha Day, says the Army, RAF and Navy have been "great at accepting proposed changes" for nursing mothers with "gold standard breastfeeding/wellness rooms set up in many defence establishments".

LCpl Day returned to work in 2020 when her son Charlie was just six months old, wanted to continue breastfeeding, but struggled to find the answers in the policy on how to go about it.

The combat medical technician started working with the military to provide breastfeeding mothers with the support they need, setting up the Army Breastfeeding Network, which became tri-service and the Defence Breastfeeding Network was founded in June 2020.

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