Buley Library opens Lactation Room
Melanie Espinal – General Assignments Reporter
The grand opening of SCSU’s lactation room will be held Wednesday on the Sept. 28th, in room 104 of the Hilton C. Buley Library.
This room was given the greenlight by former SCSU president Mary Papazian to accommodate those who might have to pump breast milk in between classes, said Michele Vancour, a professor of public health.
The room will be equipped with curtained sections that will allow privacy to students and faculty members.
The room will also utilize materials already available on campus, like Buley’s furniture, making the room a relatively easy adjustment for people who will really benefit from it.
Vancour and Akilah King, a public health major and student intern, said their immediate goal right now is to make the room as comfortable as possible.
“Right now,” King said, “we’re setting up supplies and materials to be in reach to the mothers who decide to go to that room.”
This includes moderate decorations, the possibility of soothing music, and general de-stressing methods. They have been discussing this because the more comfortable a mother is, said King, the easier it is to breastfeed.
“When a mother is stressed it can delay the let-down reflex,” she said, “which allows mothers to express breast milk easily.”
Lauren Hoponik, a freshman psychology major, said although she does not need the room, she is happy that it is there.
“Kids need to eat,” she said, “it’s healthier for them and the mother.”
Although she said she does not really know any mothers on campus, she thinks the room will be utilized if the location is known.
While many people seem comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding, said Vancour, it was not always that way.
After WWII, Vancour said, women were becoming more involved in the workforce, and formula was widely used as a substitute. This made breastfeeding a much more private act.
Since then, formula and breast milk have been competing ever since. Lactation room services are not to say that breastfeeding is superior to formula, said Vancour, but it is important to have the services available.
King said one way the stigma of breastfeeding is currently being challenged is through celebrities and social media.
“Celebs that are posting pictures of breastfeeding are reaching a huge platform,” she said.
Some celebrities that push the normalization of breastfeeding include Alyssa Milano, of “Charmed,” and model Gisele Bündchen.
In the past, the main option for many students and staff has been going to the bathroom, which some might not consider ideal in terms of bacteria often found in public restrooms.
Now Southern has a legal obligation to accommodate mothers who are breastfeeding, according to the 2001 Public Act No. 01-182 passed by the Connecticut General Assembly.
This act states that employers must make “reasonable” efforts to provide a room or location for employees to express their milk besides a toilet stall.
There was an accommodation at Southern for this in Engelman, however, it was closed more often than opened due to pipe issues, said Vancour.
While there is a greater need in the library Vancour said the ultimate goal is having many areas that are safe and practical for people to pump between classes.
“If a student is in Davis and has another class,” she said, “they don’t have enough time to go to Buley.”
Vancour hopes to be working with departments to accommodate these students to create a culture of breastfeeding at SCSU that will make it easier on nursing students and staff.
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana – Photo Editor