Before our first daughter was born, I made the decision to be a breastfeeding mama. Much to my surprise, many of my fellow mom friends were curious about possible difficulties of breastfeeding and pumping because of our law enforcement lifestyle.
My husband is a police officer at our local Sheriff's Office and has been for 12 years. Through all three of my pregnancies, deliveries, and time at home with an infant, he has worked night shift. I was asked a variety of questions through every breastfeeding journey. Mostly, everyone wants to know how I made breastfeeding a positive one despite the challenges of living a law enforcement lifestyle.
Not only that, I've been told by a number of police wives that they are nervous to take on breastfeeding because police wives are often seen as "solo parents." We take on just about every duty imaginable when our spouses are working from bills, errands, chores, emergencies, holidays alone, throwing birthday parties, and more. Also, many police wives struggled with taking on the task of night time feedings when their officer was working night shift. It can feel frustrating to never know when you will have help again.
But I am here to tell you that whether you are a police wife, or a female police officer that is breastfeeding, you can successfully breastfeed and love doing it!
You can absolutely find solutions to these problems and include everyone in the feeding process of your child.
4 pieces of advice for a law enforcement wife (or officer) looking to breastfeed:
- Involve your spouse
As a mom with a spouse in law enforcement, I really had to put extra effort in to get my husband involved in the feeding process from day 1; of course when he was not working. As police wives, we don't often see our spouse for days at a time. They work nights, sleep during the day; just for that cycle to continue for days. I remember feeling very drained having what felt like all duties were on my shoulders the days my officer was on shift. I loved feeding and nourishing my baby and being able to provide for his/her every need, but when my husband was home, he wanted some way to bond with our child, too, and I was ready to hand over that responsibility some. He loved being able to feed our children when he got the chance with milk that I had previously pumped. It gave them quality time together and it allowed me to breath a little. I could go to the store by myself for a bit, take a hot shower, or exercise. It was so nice to not have ALL the responsibility, even if it was for a small chunk of time.
- Your breast pump is your best friend!
I am serious here. I relied on my Medela Pump 'n Style SO much! I pumped several times a day to keep a freezer supply handy. Without a freezer supply, again, my husband would not have been able to be involved in the feeding process when each of our children were babies. On the nights my husband was home, we would take turns getting up with the baby, a luxury we never had when he was working through the night. I always felt so refreshed getting more quality sleep on those nights.
In addition, if I had an emergency and had to rely on a neighbor or friend, it was no worry because I already had milk stored.
- Use the community around you
As they say, it takes a village. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help (and give some help to other mamas you know)! Days can feel so long in the beginning and with our spouses working around the clock, it is important to have a tribe of women you can rely on. Look for fellow police wives who are mamas, too, in your area or possibly through your husband's department. So many of us have come together when we had babies because we know what it is like. We offer meals to one another, provide emotional support just by talking or listening, and it feels so great to have someone understand exactly what you are going through because they live it, too! Law enforcement families always have a special bond!
- Understand that you are not alone
If you are a police wife, then I know you are strong. Please know you are not alone in this journey. Yes, breastfeeding while living the law enforcement lifestyle presents new challenges but they are ones you can definitely find solutions to. If you don't have fellow police wives to reach out to, then you can always contact me. Or reach out to your local lactation consultant because they are great at coming up with solutions every day!
If you are a female police officer that is also nursing, then know you have options, too. I remember talking to a friend of mine about pumping at work and an experience I had recently gone through. She also happened to be a co-worker of my husband's. Our daughters were born only a few weeks apart and I felt so embarrassed because she, too, had so many challenges in her career as a breastfeeding mother, that I neglected to think of.
She not only had to find down time to pump, while in a police cruiser, but also had to take all of her gear off. And heaven forbid she got a call; then she would have to stop pumping, quickly dress again (bullet proof vest, uniform, then duty belt), and drive to her call. It was hard on her and she was afraid of it impacting her supply.
Just like police wives going through a breastfeeding journey, know that you are not alone. Many female officers breastfeed and have to find time to pump around their law enforcement schedule. Instead of having to go through what my friend experienced, ask your department where their pumping room is. Tell them you need a certain number of times to come in during shift or time to clock off, so that your pumping schedule can be respected. I understand that this is a male dominated career, but pumping is your right and your right must be protected.
My breastfeeding journey is coming to an end, but it leaves me with the fondest memories of bonding with my children. All of the ways mentioned above, truly helped me in my breastfeeding journey and I am so glad we were creative in finding ways to allow my husband the opportunity to bond through feeding, as well.
Rebecca is a police wife and mother to three children 6 and under. She provides support and resources to police wives and their families on her blog Proud Police Wife. You can contact her via email at email@example.com, Facebook, or Instagram
Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.