New guidance out regarding breastfeeding



Commentary by 1st Lt. Tracy Brannock
Base public health


1/30/2008 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Private and government authorities have recognized the importance of breastfeeding during the first year of life, ensuring proper nutrition and health for infants.

The Air Force Medical Service also recognizes its importance, which is why an interim policy was developed that addresses Air Force members and the choice to breastfeed their baby. Guidance can be found in Air Force Instruction 44-102, Chapter 4.15.

Chapter 4.15.3 states that "the obstetrician, pediatrician or primary care manager shall annotate on an AF Form 422 a recommendation for deployment for those Air Force members who choose to exclusively breastfeed, i.e., the infant does not take formula at all." It was not the intent of the instruction to mandate time off from work or deferral from deployment taskings for those military members who are breastfeeding.

To avoid further confusion, Chapter 4.15 was rescinded June 8 and new language was drafted to serve as interim policy until an interim change can be published.

The AFMS recommends supervisors allow 15-30 minutes every three to four hours to pump breast milk in a private, clean environment. Restrooms should not be considered as an appropriate place. The Air Force member must provide all necessary supplies.

Although policy is in place to help mothers with this sensitive issue, it does not mean they are exempt from duty requirements.

In these cases, the Air Force member must decide, in consultation with her medical provider, whether to attempt to continue breastfeeding and/or pumping breast milk. Air Force members, who are breastfeeding or pumping, remain eligible for field training, mobility exercises, and deployment taskings.

Traditionally, breastfeeding recommendations were documented on Air Force Form 422, also known as a Physical Profile Serial Report as stated in AFI 44-102, Chapter 4.15.3. Under the current guidance, this is not the proper mechanism for documenting breastfeeding as per the drafted interim policy changes. If there are excessive limitations related to breastfeeding, they can be documented by the medical provider in a Duty Limiting Conditions Report (AF Form 469).

For more information, call 1st Lt. Tracy Brannock at (940) 676-7839, DSN 736-7839 or tracy.brannock@sheppard.af.mil.