8:51 a.m., Dec. 13, 2010----Allison Walters, assistant director of the Office of Institutional Research at the University of Delaware, gave birth to her daughter, Leah, over one year ago. She returned to work when Leah was three months old and worried about how she would be able to continue to breastfeed her daughter.
“As a first-time mom, it was daunting to think about returning to work while continuing to exclusively breast-feed my daughter,” she recalls.
While Walters was fortunate enough to have a private office for expressing her milk, she conveyed her concern for female employees at the University who do not have access to a dedicated, private pumping space.
Presently, two spaces on campus have been designated as “nursing mothers rooms,” which provide a private and comfortable space for mothers to express breast milk for their infant children.
One location can be found in Hullihen Hall, Room 346, across from the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI). This space will continue to function as a conference room, as well, so those who wish to use the space to express milk should call OEI at 831-8063 and schedule a time beforehand.
The second room, located in the Perkins Student Center, Room 128, will be exclusively reserved for nursing mothers. The room provides mothers with comfortable seating, a sink and easily accessible outlets for a breast pump.
The room will also feature a bulletin board for mothers to share news, ideas and baby pictures, connecting mothers across campus. This room is available when Perkins Student Center is open and operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
The UD policy on accommodations for nursing mothers in the workplace can be found on the University's personnel policies website.
For questions regarding the nursing mother rooms, contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion at 831-8063.
For questions regarding the UD policy, contact Office of Labor Relations at 831-2114.
Nursing mothers growing segment of work force
According to the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, mothers are the fastest growing segment of the country's work force. Statistics show that approximately 70 percent of women with children under the age of three work full time. More than one-third of mothers return to work within three months of giving birth, and two-thirds return to work within six months.
Under a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act has been amended to require employers to provide time and space for their employees who are nursing mothers. The new federal law states that employers with 50 or more employees must provide “a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”
Moreover, employers are required to provide a location, “other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public.”
Article by Tracy Clark
Photos by Ambre Alexander