South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Lactation rooms provide privacy for mothers on campus

ABBY FULLENKAMP The lactation room in the Student Union opened in 2017. The room has unique amenities like dimmable lights, a cozy rocking chair and children books to entertain other children of a mother while she nurses. The room is always unlocked for any mother.

Since 2016, South Dakota State has been striving to meet the needs of nursing mothers by creating lactation rooms around campus.

Currently there are specialized lactation spaces in the Hilton M. Briggs Library, Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, the Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering building and, most recently, The Union.

Program coordinator of events and employer relations Kayla Bucknell said lactation rooms “take the pressure” off visiting and student mothers.

“It takes the stress away to know you have a place to go to pump or to nurse without having to stress about where you are going to do that, or if you’re going to have accessibility to water and a clean environment,”  she said.

Before implementation of lactation spaces on campus, students, staff and visitors only had the option of using offices or empty conference rooms to pump or breastfeed their child.

The lactation room in The Union was built after senior director of The Union Jennifer Novotny received an overwhelming amount of requests from visiting mothers.

With support from Students’ Association and input from the Student Union Advisory Committee, The Union’s lactation room was opened in August 2017 in the upper-level women’s bathroom.

Novotny believes the room also provides a way for students to be exposed to breastfeeding culture.

“We always say that a student union is not just about being a place to be, but a place to learn,” Novotny said. “And that’s always not as clear and obvious as a classroom… Having exposure of this is becoming more common on a national landscape for student unions. Breastfeeding culture is often first in student unions.”

In the United States, 81.1 percent of mothers begin breastfeeding babies at birth, but many stop earlier than 12 months, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said to increase the number of women breastfeeding for the correct amount of time, education and community support is needed.

Women have expressed their gratitude for The Union lactation room in the bathroom guest book.

“So wonderful to have this beautiful room while visiting for a conference,” someone wrote. “So much better than having to sit on nasty bathroom floors. I wish they had these in every building.”

Bucknell agrees the room is much appreciated and said, “it’s the best mother’s room I’ve ever used.”

For room standards, Facilities and Services is discussing having a lockable door that has a function indicating “available” or “in use” in every mother’s room on campus. Or all rooms having an adequate number of outlets or a refrigerator for storage.

The Union lactation room is the most unique out of all the rooms on campus. Novotny said when she was conceptualizing the room with the Student Union Advisory Committee, they made sure to cater to as many needs of a mother as possible.

“I think what made this room different is we have a strong commitment to make every space approachable and welcoming. We really took that very seriously in SUAC,” Novotny said.

The room is free for any mother to use at any time. Novotny said there have been “over 20 different names” in the guest book, and guesses around 30 different people regularly use the room.

There are more mother’s rooms on the way. In the construction plans for Harding Hall, the Performing Arts Center and the Wellness Center, mother’s rooms were included, according to Amy Jones, senior project engineer for facilities and services.

Jones has worked on all the lactation rooms in some capacity. She said she is excited about the progress SDSU is making and the feedback from women who use the rooms.

“Even if it’s just one or two women, it makes a difference,” Jones said.

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