U-M Lactation Rooms Support Nursing Mothers and Their Babies
What It Is
U-M’s Work/Life Resource Center (WLRC) has developed multiple services and tools to promote a healthy balance between an employee’s work and home life. One of these supportive services provides information and guidance about available lactation or personal care rooms located in university buildings.
These designated rooms offer women who have recently given birth and would like to continue breastfeeding after returning to work or school a private, comfortable and sanitary place to express, or release, breast milk throughout their day on campus. “Providing space for a mother to express breast milk when they come back to work is really important for the health of both the mother and the child,” says Jennie McAlpine, WLRC director.
Many mothers who choose to breastfeed their infants do so for up to a year. Unfortunately, studies show that less than 20 percent of nursing mothers are able to continue breastfeeding upon returning to work, due to common workplace barriers such as lack of privacy, inadequate facilities to pump and express breast milk, workplace stigma and lack of support from employers.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act increased support for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace in 2010 by requiring employers to provide a private and sanitary space for nursing mothers to express breast milk, and a reasonable break time during the workday for them to do so. The university has taken heed of this reform and is actively working to increase and improve current and future lactation spaces. “We are looking at what we have and ways to advocate for better space so mothers have a comfortable place to go,” says Barb Mulay, WLRC manager.
Why You Should Know
There are currently over 30 private lactation rooms available to staff and students located in 25 university business, academic buildings and the U-M Hospitals. With female employees and students in almost 400 university buildings, WLRC recognizes the need to increase lactation spaces. “Our goal will be to work with building managers to find appropriate space in as many buildings as possible so that women do not have to go far to find a well appointed lactation room,” says McAlpine.
Excluding pumps and milk storage space, campus lactation rooms supply everything a nursing mother will need to express breast milk at any time during the workday. These small rooms provide comfortable seating, accessible outlets, tables, reading materials featuring images of babies and soft, relaxing lighting to help create a more intimate environment. In addition, most lactation rooms are located close to a water supply to allow for easy cleanup.
Nursing mothers returning to work can rent breast pumps from MedEQUIP, U-M Health System’s home medical equipment and respiratory provider.
The Work/Life Resource Center is continuously working to increase the number of lactation rooms available and the quality of existing rooms in U-M buildings. If you have a need for lactation space in your current work place or a sign to identify the space that has been provided, contact your department HR representative, facility manager or the work/life resource center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on university lactation rooms visit http://hr.umich.edu/worklife/parenting/lactationrooms.html