When Air Force Tech Sgt. Nancy Thompson became pregnant, she searched through Air Force sources to find out how to navigate her pregnancy and postpartum period while serving. As she soon discovered, this important information was very difficult to find. For instance, she thought she’d be able to have a 12-month deferment after her daughter was born, only to find herself up for a transfer just six months postpartum. It turned out she needed to apply for a special post-delivery assignment deferral — information that she’d never uncovered during her extensive research.
“It blew my mind how this wasn’t common knowledge and how we were not informed nor empowered to have this information,” Thompson told Military Times. “It infuriated me.”
So Thompson decided to take matters into her own hands and create a manual for moms going through the same situation.
READ: Five decades ago, pregnant women in the Air Force had to abort or be discharged. Not much has changed.
Throughout her research, Thompson found many other Air Force moms asking the same questions as she did, and she discovered that her supervisors often did not know the answers to important information. Convinced that this needed to be easier for Air Force moms to navigate, she decided to compile all of the relevant information she collected into one easy-to-access document.
According to Thompson, the guide “includes info on separating, profiles, PT testing, assignment codes, acquiring a breast pump, lactation rooms, maternity leave, court-ordered child custody assignments and more.”
Thompson initially shared her work on an Air Force Facebook page and was immediately overwhelmed by the response. While she started out offering to email it to people, she couldn’t keep up with the demand and quickly had to create a Google document with a link so that all could access the guide. Her hard work was also noticed by Air Force leadership, who contacted Thompson and asked her to partner with their Women’s Initiative Team to make the guide an official document.
Thompson stressed that her document is helpful for everyone, not just pregnant moms. “I originally shared this on a woman’s only page however I feel male supervisors can use this information to help their pregnant Airmen navigate motherhood and provide them knowledge. Doesn’t hurt to know what your troops can go through,” she wrote.
For now, the official guide is still in development, but Thompson is thrilled that it has been met with a positive response. “I am so happy and derive such a sense of joy that women and supervisors feel empowered by this information,” she said. “It’s what I would have wanted for myself when I was newly pregnant.”
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