University of Arkansas Makes State History With First Lactation Room
For moms who go to college or work at one, finding a clean, private place to nurse or pump can be next to impossible—but the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is changing things. The school just opened the first breastfeeding room at a college in the state, and they’re trying to make it as comfy as possible for their faculty, students, staff and guests.
Charmingly called “The Nook,” the room offers seating, reading material, and a refrigerator to store pumped milk. (So don’t forget to label it, working moms!) Anyone who’s on campus and needs the room can use it.
The university recognized that despite the many proven health benefits that breastfeeding offers both moms and babies, not every mother who wants to nurse gets the support she needs. To add to that, a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that black mothers initiated and continued breastfeeding significantly less than white moms. With the installation of The Nook, university officials are hoping to make a change.
“What we know is that minority mothers are less likely to breastfeed, whether it’s because they lack support at the healthcare provider level, family level or employer level. So the fact that UAPB not only as an employer but as a school for students who are mothers can [help them] still get their education and still be able to breastfeed their babies is extremely important,” the Arkansas Minority Health Commission Director Sharhonda Love told The Pine Bluff Commercial.
Arkansas Representative Mary Bentley—who’s also a nurse—pointed out that “…this is another great way to support our faculty and the students who are moms as well.”
While no other university in Arkansas has a room on campus for breastfeeding, this may just help open the door to more. Arkansas First Lady Susan Hutchinson is proud of the change. “Once again UAPB is historical and is ahead of her time,” she said. “The university in of itself carries so much prestige and we look to our institutions to …be on the forefront. It’s exciting that UAPB is shining a light on this for us to follow suit.”