Debunking Old School Ideas About School Lactation Spaces
Essential considerations for educational leaders, administrators, and facility managers when planning lactation accommodations for breastfeeding employees.
What’s stopping schools, colleges, and universities from providing dedicated lactation spaces for their breastfeeding faculty and staff to pump breast milk? Often the obstacles and effort can seem too big to overcome, when in fact outdated perceptions are actually the biggest barrier.
Here are four common myths about school lactation spaces debunked so education leadership teams can make more informed decisions.
Myth 1: Breastfeeding teachers can pump milk in a storage closet or an empty classroom.
Fact: Breastfeeding is a physiological phenomenon with specific requirements for optimal milk let-down. When mothers are away from their baby, they need to pump breast milk to maintain their milk supply. For an optimal pumping experience, women need a clean, quiet, and private space free from intrusion where they can sit down and plug in their breast pump.
The space also needs to be available when mothers need it, because while pumping sessions may vary, it’s important to establish a predictable pumping schedule. If the pumping environment is uncomfortable, stressful, or even worse--unavailable--it will negatively impact milk let-down. A missed or delayed pumping session can cause not only discomfort and engorgement, but can also lead to decreased milk supply, clogged milk ducts, or mastitis.
Myth 2: There isn’t enough space for a dedicated lactation room.
Fact: Lactation spaces don’t need to be large or elaborate, but they do need to be a comfortable, clean,and private place where breastfeeding employees can be assured sufficient uninterrupted time to plug in and pump.
Myth 3: We can’t afford to invest in employee wellness.
Fact: You can’t afford not to. With the rising costs of healthcare, investing in employee wellness can actually save money and prevent absenteeism. In fact, recent research suggests that $1 dollar spent on a wellness program can result in a $3 cost savings. Therefore, investing in employee wellness benefits not only employees, but also bottom lines and budgets.
Myth 4: Teachers feel supported without a lactation space.
Fact: No, they don’t. According to Ovia Health’s “Motherhood in America” report, 70% of working mothers surveyed want better breastfeeding support. And 29% of them report not feeling supported “at all” by their employer’s lactation facilities.
The prevailing myths around lactation space requirements, space limitations, and employee wellness unfortunately exact a high cost when it comes to supporting and retaining faculty and staff. Without the real facts about workplace lactation accommodations, schools run the risk of increased sick days and decreased morale. When schools partner with an experienced lactation space provider they can quickly get the right solution in place that attracts talent, supports breastfeeding employees, and increases retention.