Lactation centers paint a family-friendly environment
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 13:02
Students who juggle the hustle and bustle of college class while also caring for newborn babies deal with a lot, but their lives have just gotten a little easier with the opening of the new UNC Wilmington lactation centers.
Located in McNeill Hall, Friday Annex and the Student Health Center; these centers provide a place for nursing mothers to take care of their little ones.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Jan. 23 for the centers that officially opened at the beginning of January. A representative from SGA and Chancellor Miller were among the group of almost 30 people at the ground-breaking ceremony.
“I think this is a long time coming,” Berkeley said. “It’s one more indication that UNCW is committed to having a family friendly work environment.”
The centers are open to students, faculty and staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekdays.
Jennifer Fernandez-Villa, director of International Student and Scholar Services, sees this as a huge benefit for faculty and staff as well.
“The new lactation rooms are a wonderful addition to campus,” Fernandez-Villa said. “These rooms provide a space for a mom to continue breastfeeding her child when she returns to work, which is so important since research shows breastfeeding has many benefits to both baby and mom. As a mom to three young kids, I am pleased to know laws are being implemented that help support working mothers.”
Last fall, a nursing mother started inquiring about where she could pump breast milk while on campus. After speaking to several people, she was told that no area like that existed. Dr. Michelle Scatton-Tessier, director of the Women’s Studies Resource Center, and Dr. Kathleen Berkeley, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, decided to tackle this problem.
Together, they looked at what peer institutions offered in the area, carved up a proposal, got approval from the board and spoke to Human Resources about potential available spaces. What they found were two storage units in McNeill and Friday Annex. They also received an offer of aid from the SHC. The SHC had been allowing students to nurse or pump there but they now opened those services to faculty and staff as well.
Scatton-Tessier and Berkeley set about transforming these storage units into homey places for nursing mothers. They gathered up armchairs, tables, and lamps for the new centers but found them still to be lacking. Then people began donating changing tables, clock radios and posters. Chancellor Miller and his wife even bought a changing table to donate.
“This is all part of a larger initiative,” said Scatton-Tessier.
Eventually, they hope to expand this project and even have diaper changing tables in all academic buildings.
For more information and the lactation center locations, visit http://uncw.edu/hr/resources-lactation.html.