Written by Brooke Cole
Health Services at Monroe Community College is offering a completely new service this year, a Lactation room.
Located in room 6-341 on the Brighton Campus, the Lactation Room is the first of its kind at MCC, and Director of Health Services Donna Mueller is very excited for students to know about it.
The space is a fairly large room that was once a storage unit. It has been revamped with new paint, a handwashing station and three private cubicles equipped with comfortable seating and ample table space to place the mother’s belongings.
In the room, there is no refrigeration, therefore it is advised that mothers use insulated bags to store their milk. Mueller stated that “there are complicating features to refrigerating milk in a space uses by a number of people.”
Keys to use the room are located in three different places: at the HR office- room 6-301, Health Services-Room 3-165, and at the Student Life and Leadership office-Room 3-126.
Providing a space for mothers to breastfeed or pump is a federal mandate, and Health Services has always welcomed mothers to do so in the Health Services office. Though they have offered this space, the idea of nursing in an environment that sick people also frequented was not ideal. Mothers who did not choose to go to Health Services to pump would have had to look elsewhere.
Mueller remarks “Imagine students who had to go to their car with their pump…pump secretly in a dark corner of the parking lot, and then rush back to class…most of them are looking for a private, quiet place to be able to take care of business without raising a lot of ruckus, but it’s not that easy for nursing mothers and we need to make it easier.”
Dedicated to the health of MCC students and raising the awareness of this issue, Mueller worked alongside Administrator Kristen Love to launch this initiative. The Lactation Room provides a formal, peaceful and quiet space to breastfeed or pump that student mothers did not previously have on campus.
The room will not only be a service to students, but to staff and prospective students that are currently breastfeeding. Mueller envisions a space that staff who do not have private office space will use instead of pumping in a cubicle where coworkers can hear. “Imagine a young mother that’s coming to explore classes and needs to nurse her baby. She could be bringing her baby with her to sign up for next semester,” she says.
The initiative is not only to add a room to the campus map. It is to change the culture of the college and workforce, something Mueller seemed especially passionate about. “The whole culture shift is: not ostracizing women for having to pump, not stigmatizing them for being away from their work site, but rather an environment in which we help one another because we know that working mothers are a very productive component of the workforce”.
Health Services is still constructing a policy to use the room. There are a lot of factors to consider. Mueller acknowledges that this is only the beginning of a large shift in the college culture: “We’re going to celebrate this space. I’m thrilled we have it. It’s a start”.
To use the Lactation Room, obtain a key at room 6-301, 3-165, or 3-126. To learn more about Health Services, or the Lactation Room, visit room 3-165 or call (585)-292-1018.
There is also a website, pregnantoncampus.studentsforlife.org/lactation-room, if students, faculty or staff wish to inquire the legalities of a lactation room, it is advised to go there.