Air Force Mom Breastfeeding In Uniform Is A Stunning Look At Military Motherhood

Air Force Mom Breastfeeding In Uniform Is A Stunning Look At Military Motherhood

Jonea Cunico, SSGT (E-5), is an Aircraft Electrical and Environmental Specialist in the Air Force Reserves and mom to a 14-month-old boy named Joshua Jr. When photographer Jade Beall captured gorgeous pictures of Cunico breastfeeding in uniform, she showcased a powerful image of a mother and woman serving her country.

jade beall

Cunico reflects on her experience with breastfeeding and pumping, at home and in the military, in an interview with Breastfeeding in Combat Boots — veteran and certified lactation specialist Robyn Roche-Paull’s online resource for military mothers working to nurse while serving their country. Dealing with “a bad latch followed by a round of thrush,” Cunico says breastfeeding was difficult at the beginning. “I toughed it out and pushed through,” she said, adding, “I’m so glad that I did.”

Though she worried about nursing and pumping in her predominantly male unit, the military mom says she was “pleasantly surprised” with how well her peers responded to and supported her decision to breastfeed. “Whenever I need to take a pumping break I just excuse myself from whatever is going on and do what I need to. No questions asked, no awkward moments.”

From day one, her superiors were also very receptive to her needs, Cunico explains. “I was very clear with my supervisor that I was breastfeeding my son and that I would need to take precautions when handling chemicals, and that my work on the aircraft would be limited,” she recalled, adding, “He was very understanding and didn’t have a problem.” When she requested a private, clean room for pumping, he quickly found a suitable office she could use.

Nursing in uniform has caused a stir in the past — most notably in 2012 when National Air Guard members Terran Echegoyen McCabe And Christina Luna received criticism for their viral breastfeeding photo. But Cunico told Jade Beall, “I have been contacted by the Air Force officials and they see nothing wrong with this photo!”

Writing to Beall, the military mom also said, “I know there will be people who don’t agree with me nursing in uniform. There are no regulations forbidding me to do so. I am a mother. Both inside and outside of my uniform. Breastfeeding is part of motherhood for me.”

You can read more about Jonea Cunico on Breastfeeding in Combat Boots.

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