Lander University has added a new service to its Wellness Center: a lactation room that provides privacy and a relaxing environment for mothers to use a breast pump or to breastfeed their babies.
The room is furnished with a couch, a rocking chair with footstool, a microwave oven to sterilize devices used in the process, and a refrigerator for storing pumped milk. There is also a changing table for occasions when caregivers bring babies to their mothers on campus to be breastfed. A privacy screen is available to allow two women to use the room at the same time.
Teri Gunter Lawson, a medical-surgical instructor in Lander's William Preston Turner Department of Nursing, was the first to use the room. Her daughter, Elizabeth, was born in April and Lawson returned to work in August. "I have the luxury of an office, but it is not a relaxing environment for pumping and there is always the chance of being interrupted by a ringing phone or someone knocking on the door."
She said it is important to be in private, comfortable surroundings for breast pumping because it enhances the mother's milk supply. Lawson said she pumps three times during an average eight-hour shift and, depending on the woman, the process could take as long as 30 minutes including preparing and cleaning the breast pump.
Kim Shannon, a registered nurse who works in Lander's Wellness Center, helped establish the lactation room with a $1,000 grant from the South Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, which is sponsoring legislation to require companies with 25 or more employees to offer lactation services in the workplace.
The grant was accompanied by a certificate citing Lander and the Wellness Center for exemplary commitment to the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding in the workplace.
Chris Newton, Lander's director of Human Resources, said the university recognizes the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of providing private accommodations for faculty, staff, students and visitors who want to use a breast pump or breastfeed while on campus.
Leslie Myers, assistant professor of nursing at Lander and chair of the state Breastfeeding Coalition, said there is a growing trend among employers to provide workplace lactation rooms. A few states have laws requiring such facilities but South Carolina is not one of them.
Myers said breastfeeding offers health benefits for both mother and baby, and she pointed to the number of organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, that have endorsed breastfeeding.
Shannon said the Wellness Center would offer education programs not only for women, but husbands whose wives are breastfeeding