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AFMC We Need initiative achieves big win for nursing mothers

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Materiel Command

Air Force Materiel Command support to nursing mothers continues to improve, thanks to efforts led by the Commander’s Accelerated Initiatives group.

Effective immediately, nursing mothers who work in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) or on a special access program (SAP) are permitted to carry battery-operated, Bluetooth-capable breast pumps into these work areas.

“There was a lack of process transparency that limited our nursing mothers and their opportunity to care for their children by pumping when working in these environments,” said Ashley Morgan, communications lead, Commander’s Accelerated Initiatives team. “We received numerous inputs from our nursing mothers via the AFMC We Need initiative, driving us to review the current policy guidance against Department of Defense regulations. We wanted to make sure we were adequately supporting our working mothers who continue to fight our wartime mission every single day.”

A September 2021 memorandum from the Air Force Surgeon General acknowledged breast pumps as designated medical devices. This determination was based on guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Code of Federal Regulations (U.S. FDA 21CFR 884.5150 & 884.5160) which identified powered and non-powered breast pumps as medical devices.

AFMC used this guidance to revise its policy related to portable electronic devices within secure areas, ensuring that working mothers received the support they need to continue to execute their mission requirements. This aligns the command policy currently with that in place at Air Combat Command and other locations across the enterprise.

“AFMC’s wartime mission doesn’t stop, regardless of the circumstance. AFMC’s willingness to show support for our nursing mothers by championing initiatives such as this enables our Airmen to feel valued and have their concerns heard, which directly impacts their connectedness to the warfighter mission,” said Morgan.

The authorization memo can be viewed at AFMC Breast Pump in Secure Space Policy.  

Nursing mothers should work directly with their applicable security representative and submit manufacturer’s technical specifications and any required documentation related to Personal Electronic Devices (e.g., User Agreement) for review prior to bringing a device into an AFMC secure space.