A college campus may not seem like a place that requires significant lactation support. But while most undergraduate students do not have children, multiple populations within these higher education environments – graduate students, faculty, staff, visitors – may need access to educational spaces. breastfeeding and pumping.
Diane Spatz of penn nursing and the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital has been advocating and researching the needs of breastfeeding mothers for nearly two decades. More recently, she and her colleagues at Stuart Weitzman School of Design and the Center for Public Health Initiativesboth at Pennand the College and University Planning Society (SCUP) have turned their attention to the availability of such a resource on college and university campuses.
In a study published in the journal Breastfeeding medicine, the researchers found that almost all of the 105 facilities surveyed had at least one space dedicated to lactation. About two-thirds said they have a policy to create such spaces, but only about a quarter included them in campus building standards.
“There are many types of women who may need access to a breastfeeding space while on college campus. That’s why this work is really cool and so important, because there really is a need,” says Spatz, professor of nutrition and perinatal nursing at Penn, who also leads CHOP’s lactation program. “Beyond that, we put those ideas into the hands of the people who make the decisions about space on campus. On the majority of campuses, no one sees this as a norm.
The project came about after a Spatz student asked 139 universities across the country if they had lactation policies in place for their students. Only five percent did. So in 2015, when Dare Henry-Moss joined Penn’s Masters in Public Health program as a student, the issue was already a priority for Spatz. The two started working together.
Around the same time, Spatz met Joyce Lee, an architect who taught at PennDesign and was an educational consultant at the Wharton School Global Environmental Leadership Initiative. Lee also works closely with SCUP, which has expressed interest in further research on the subject. Lee connected everyone and the project came to life, fueled by a mutual enthusiasm for what all parties saw as a crucial but unexplored topic.
“For so long, this kind of gender-responsive space hasn’t had any standard of best practice,” says Lee, president of design firm IndigoJLD Green Health. “We are now creating an environment where presidents, provosts, property managers, planners, designers can discuss this as a network of health-promoting spaces. Interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to carry out this work.
Likewise, the numbers are solid. So the research team created a survey that asked participants who on campus was involved in planning and funding lactation spaces, how many there were, and whether the institution tracked the use of the facility. space. They also went further by asking what percentage of the campus population lived or worked within a seven-minute walk of a lactation space, and how many rooms had features such as a locking mechanism, a hospital grade or personal equipment. storage for users.
Across the country, representatives from all campus sizes — from “small” schools with fewer than 5,000 undergraduate students to “very large schools” with more than 30,000 — responded. They came from public and private schools, some with upper divisions, some without. Their responses painted a clear picture of how universities and colleges across the United States are approaching this issue.
Some do more than others, but even places that are already making progress have room to grow. The SCUP and the researchers hope to help in this regard, not only by publishing the statistics revealed by their work, but also with a resource page they created who lives on the SCUP website. “There is now a place where a campus administrator interested in doing more can go,” Spatz says. “It’s often seen from a human resources perspective as a benefit to employees, but it’s not just that. It is a larger element.
It’s all with the aim of making the process a little easier for breastfeeding mothers. ” I have already said it. I’ve said it a million times. It’s up to the woman to find out for herself,” says Spatz. “Moms shouldn’t have to work so hard to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals. We have to make it easier.
For more information on resources available to breastfeeding mothers on Penn’s campus, including a new continuation of lactation to School of Dentistryvisit the Breastfeeding mothers websitepart of Penn Human Resources.
Diane Spatz is Professor of Perinatal Nursing and Helen M. Shearer Professor of Nutrition at University of Pennsylvania School of nursing. She is also a nurse researcher and manager of the lactation program at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital.
Dare Henry-Moss is a research associate at the Center for Public Health Initiatives. She was previously the research coordinator for the Perelman School of Medicine and Philadelphia Children’s Hospital and earned her Masters in Public Health from University of Pennsylvania in 2017.
Joyce Lee is president of design company IndigoJLD Green Health and has taught at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design and the School of nursing to University of Pennsylvania. She is also an educational consultant at the Wharton School Global Environmental Leadership Initiative. Kathleen Benton of College and University Planning Society also contributed to the article.