Lactation Room Supports Nursing Mothers on Campus
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in March 2010, employers and their employees across the nation experienced changes to their healthcare provisions, many of which benefitted women’s maternity care. Soon, Saint Joseph’s University will be the home of a fully-operational “lactation room,” a project spearheaded by the SJU Commission on the Status of Women (COSW), in conjunction with the mayoral initiative Get Healthy Philadelphia, and the local nonprofit Maternity Care Coalition.
SJU is the second university in Philadelphia to establish a lactation room, and the first to be created under Get Healthy Philadelphia.
“Continuing to breastfeed after returning to work from maternity leave takes a lot of dedication,” says Nancy DuBoise, manager of employee relations at SJU. “If we can eliminate some of the obstacles these new mothers face by providing a lactation room on campus, we’re promoting their health and the health of their babies.”
DuBoise, along with Alex Skolnick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, and Marian Courtney, assistant to the University librarian, served on the COSW committee responsible for establishing the room, located in the Campion Student Center, room 208 B. According to Skolnick, making this resource available to nursing moms will have a positive impact on the University community as well.
“There’s a national trend that suggests new mothers stop breastfeeding between six weeks and their return to work, often because of the end of maternity leave,” says Skolnick. “But research supported by the American Medical Association suggests the longer a woman can breastfeed, the better. Babies’ immune systems are strengthened by the nutrients they get from breast milk. The longer breast milk is available, the healthier the baby, which means fewer parents missing work because their child is sick.”
Provisions in the PPACA require that nursing moms have access to a private, non-bathroom space available to express breast milk during the workday, along with reasonable break time, for up to a year after giving birth. At SJU, Campion 208 B is furnished and features swipe-card access. Upon returning to work after leave, new mothers will have to contact DuBoise to enable their SJU I.D. to gain entry to 208 B, and an online scheduling system prevent multiple reservations of the room during the same time frame.
“On average about a dozen women at SJU give birth each year,” says Skolnick. “We’re not anticipating that there will be scheduling conflicts, but even if only two or three choose to use the room, we want it to be as simple a process as possible.”
Legal policy and organizational guidance was provided by the Maternity Care Coalition (MCC), a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of breastfeeding and maternity care initiatives. Echoing their contact at MCC, DuBoise speaks to the future of the lactation room, which may eventually include a second room on the University’s Maguire campus.
“We’re just at the beginning,” she says. “Every little step taken is a good thing.”
Nursing mothers who wish to access the lactation room may contact Nancy DuBoise for further information at 610-660-3313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.