Lessons Learned from A Student-Led Breastfeeding Support Initiative At A US Urban Public University
Despite US laws requiring most workplaces to provide "reasonable" unpaid break time and a private space for female employees to express breast milk, much of the statutory language is vague and open to interpretation, potentially leading to suboptimal implementation. College and university campuses in the US represent a particular concern, as students are typically not employed by their school and thus not protected by state and federal labor laws. This article describes the work of 2 graduate students to successfully establish a dedicated space at their US urban public university for the purpose of expressing breast milk. A 3-pronged strategy was implemented to create a dedicated lactation space: (1) collecting data to support the establishment of the room, (2) raising awareness of legislation related to protection of breastfeeding, and (3) community organizing and advocacy. After nearly 18 months of advocacy and planning, the campus' dedicated lactation room was opened for use in March 2012. Two years later, the room remains a valuable resource and is used, on average, 8.4 times per weekday during a typical school week. Several lessons learned are described, and the strategies employed can be tested and applied in other US academic settings to assist in advocating for more supports for breastfeeding mothers. However, it is also imperative that US legislation be amended to include language that explicitly protects students so that women do not need to make the choice between continuing their education and continuing to breastfeed.
MSU Digital Commons Citation
Dinour, Lauren and Beharie, Nisha, "Lessons Learned from A Student-Led Breastfeeding Support Initiative At A US Urban Public University" (2015). Department of Nutrition and Food Studies Scholarship and Creative Works. 118.