Navy supports breastfeeding mothers in the workplace

Published on Department of Defence (author), POIS Phil Cullinan (photographer)

Navy has emphasised support for women returning to work after the birth of a child with the launch of a guide to breastfeeding in the workplace.  (photo: POIS Phil Cullinan)
Navy has emphasised support for women returning to work after the birth of a child with the launch of a guide to breastfeeding in the workplace.

Navy has emphasised support for women returning to work after the birth of a child with the launch of a guide to breastfeeding in the workplace.

Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Michael Noonan, with support from the Navy Women’s Strategic Advisor, launched ‘The Navy Guide to Breastfeeding in the Workplace’ to clearly articulate the value Navy places on supporting women returning from maternity leave.

Director General Navy People, Commodore Michele Miller said the guide provides advice for breastfeeding mothers, their partners, managers and supervisors, as well as practical tips on how to best accommodate and support breastfeeding in the workplace 

“This guide will better enable women to seek support, and for leaders to better understand mothers’ requiurements and provide that support,” Commodore Miller said.

“In some cases flexibility may be needed for only a few months but reducing the stress in making that happen can make a qualitative difference to the health of a child in the long term, as well as the decision to return to work and the ability of a mother to cope with the competing stresses.”

Navy is a strong supporter of breastfeeding in the workplace and the guide will be used as a tool to start a conversation between all those involved in supporting mothers. The guide helps members and their managers discuss expectations to ensure the most appropriate support if offered to working mothers.

Lieutenant Commander Kylie Beumer said her workplace was incredibly supportive both throughout her pregnancy and now as she manages breastfeeding/expressing requirements at work.

“Having a conversation about breastfeeding/expressing facilities at work was really very straightforward and no different from other members’ personal or health requirements,” she said.

“I’m so pleased to be able to achieve my feeding desires for my baby while continuing to progress my career and contribute to Navy capability.” 

Warrant Officer Hydrographic Survey Manager Shannon Locke said it was easy to have a conversation with her immediate supervisor about her breastfeeding intentions at work.

“I broached the subject before I left on maternity leave and confirmed my routine requirements on my return to work,” she said. 

“My chain of command and staff were extremely supportive of my intentions to breastfeed, such as not scheduling meetings that conflicted with my feeding times.”

I was able to continue my breastfeeding journey and felt supported and highly valued by Navy.”

Navy capability depends on a diverse and inclusive work force that has the skills and competencies to deliver Navy’s warfighting effect. Women are critical to Navy’s capability and it is essential they are well supported throughout all stages of their career and life.

Copies of the guide are available to Defence members on the Defence internal network.