Minot Air Force Base installs lactation pods and updates parental leave

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:37 PM CDT
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MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (KMOT) – Minot Air Force Base is one of several military sites around the country that have lactation pods.

Senior Airman Kyleigh Lewis of the 5th Security Squadron had her daughter in the middle of last year. She was used to borrowing empty offices when lactation rooms were too far away or in a building that was unavailable.

To solve the issue the base installed three lactation pods in January. “Since we got the lactation pods, I love them so far and I’ve been using them since we’ve had them,” said Lewis.

Before the installation of these mobile pods, Staff Sergeant Jayme Gore said one of the few options nursing women had was in the privacy of their vehicles.

“Especially during the winter and the summer, it’s so extreme that it’s not somewhere you want to be,” said Gore.

That’s when she went to her supervisor and expressed the pod alternative. They had lactation rooms, but she said it’s not always convenient. Lewis said the pods ease some of her worries about where she would go and how much training she would miss.

“It’s definitely made it a lot easier to have it right there and available for me,” said Lewis.

The Air Force has also updated its parental leave program that started in December of 2022. Active total force service members who have a child can get three months of parental leave.

Lewis says her husband, who’s also serving at the base got three weeks of leave as a secondary caregiver before the policy extended it to fathers. The same goes for same-sex couples, surrogates, and long-term foster care parents.

“We wanted to ensure that they had the ability to be somewhere comfortable in all aspects of our job,” said Gore.

Lewis said she was also compensated for maternity uniforms.

Gore said she noticed a concerted effort to accommodate pregnant and nursing moms began around 2018.