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  • Nursing or Meditation
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  • Nursing or Meditation

    Lactation rooms provide privacy for students and employees


    When we hear the term ‘college student’ it’s probably fair to say most people think of an 18-year-old student fresh out of high school, however, universities are noticing changing demographics of students enrolling in classes, including mothers.  

    Minnesota State University Moorhead is dedicated to being a welcoming campus for all students and making it a safe and comfortable place to learn. One way they show this is by providing two lactation rooms on campus for nursing mothers.

    “Life circumstances have lead people in different directions so when they come back to school they may have children at that time or be in that process of starting a family. We want to make sure everyone feels welcome and comfortable here,” Donna Brown, associate vice president for diversity and inclusion at MSUM, said.

    A lactation room is a private room for women who are breast-feeding to express milk. The purpose of a lactation room is to help mothers transition back to school or work while continuing to breast-feed.

    Brown’s attention was drawn to the issue when she noticed a woman in a bathroom on campus pumping breast milk. Brown decided there was a need on campus for a more comfortable, sanitary space, so she jumped at the next opportunity to make a change. A room in the Comstock Memorial Union (CMU) became available and she went to the CMU Space Committee to suggest the vacant room be used as a lactation room.

    “They were very supportive from day one. I think it was something no one ever really thought about,” Brown said. “Breast feeding is really coming back. There was a time it was not so popular and almost even discouraged. Now health professionals are recognizing the benefits for children, so they’re really encouraging that for women. I think it’s our responsibility to make that easier for women to do.“

    MSUM’s two lactation rooms are on separate ends of campus one in the CMU and one in the Women’s Center. The room in the CMU is furnished with a comfortable chair, table, and TV. Both rooms are relaxing, private and lockable. The private rooms allow employees and students to feel comfortable while at work and school to continue to breast-feed.   

    The lactation room in the CMU is open to the community during events.

    The rooms are not only serving a need for students and employees, it is also a law. “The National Healthcare Reform Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act in 2010, and any company that has more than 50 employees needs to provide a place like this for accommodation,” Brown said.

    The 2010 Healthcare Reform Act states, “Under the Act, employers must now provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

    The lactation rooms can also be used for meditation.

    “We are really trying to make this a welcoming place for all students on our campus,” Brown said. “Also for our employees, we want them to feel like we are addressing their needs, that we’re respectful of their decisions, and that we’re supportive of their decision to do the best they can for their children.”