More lactation rooms considered

Victoria BresnahanNews Editor

Almost one year after the university became a Breastfeeding Friendly Campus—which was distinguished by the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition—public health professor Michele Vancour said the program is looking to expand the number of lactation rooms on campus.

“We have looked at other buildings, but there hasn’t been success,” she said.

Some of the spaces that have been considered would be costly to renovate. For example, an all accessibility bathroom that is typically unused, according to Vancour, would be an option, but a toilet would have to be removed.

“That is very common,” she said. “How other universities achieve lactation spaces on their campuses is to retrofit their bathrooms—single person bathrooms.”

While lactation spaces do not have to provide running water, she said it would be beneficial to mothers in case they need to clean their pump or its accessories. Other recommended spaces had glass walls, which Vancour said may make some mothers feel uncomfortable.

Mothers who work for or attend the university are invited to look at these spaces with Vancour to determine how comfortable it would make mothers feel.

Currently, there are three lactation rooms— Hilton C. Buley library, Jennings Hall and the Wintergreen building— available for mothers who may need to pump or breastfeed. Vancour said the spaces are in areas of most need.

The Wintergreen building serves as a space for employees and perspective students to pump, she said. Mothers who tour the university have the option to use the room while considering the university.

“That was an unthought [of] benefit and we were able to provide that,” she said.

Prior to these areas, Vancour said she was responsible for a lactation room in Connecticut Hall, which no longer exists. A pipe burst, and now the room is offline due to mold that grew in the walls.

“It was really underutilized anyways by that point in time, and now it’s just good that we have the other spaces,” she said. “It’s not really needed right there, the same way the other spaces seem to be getting good use.”

She said some of the lactation rooms were a result of breastfeeding champions—students, faculty, staff and administration members who provide resources to mothers. Being a Breastfeeding Friendly Campus ensures that champions identify areas across departments that a mother can use, she said.

“Even though we have designated spaces,” said Vancour, “every champion is supposed to know another space that somebody just walking by could pop into.”

Mothers can discern a breastfeeding champion’s space by the blue sticker on their door of a mother breastfeeding.

Acquisitions & Collection Development Coordinator for Hilton C. Buley Library Kari Swanson is one of the several breastfeeding champions. She said in areas on campus where there is no designated space, a champion could arrange for a mother to use an office or another space.

Not only does Swanson showcase her breastfeeding champion sticker on her office door, but also on her laptop.

“People can know who we are, that we are people that they can come to if they need help finding a space or with information and support,” said Swanson.

Since a someone must schedule a time to reserve Buley’s lactation space, Swanson said this can be reassuring to mothers.

“I think that helps,” she said. “You know you have a place, you know it will be available when you need it.”

In addition, the room in Buley includes electric outlets, a microwave for sanitizing and curtains for privacy.

Natalie Sheehan, a senior and public health intern, works with Vancour and others on the Breastfeeding Friendly Campus initiative.

Currently, she said, there is no data on the exact number of people using these spaces. For now, they are primarily working on spreading the word about the initiative.

“Thankfully, you know, right at this point in my life I don’t need a lactation room,” said Sheehan, “but knowing that if I ever did, that it was here, you know, that my school would want me to still come to school and want me to be successful in any way that I could, that’s awesome.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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