The University of Toledo Medical Center has worked with the Creating Healthy Communities Program at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and the Lucas County Women, Infants and Children Program to outfit a revamped lactation room to help new mothers return to work while continuing to breastfeed their children.
“A lot of women would like to breastfeed, but once they go back to work, it becomes a hardship for them to do that,” said Amy Abodeely, a registered dietitian with the health department. “If you give them a relaxing space that lets them pump, they’re able to breastfeed their children longer, which translates to benefits for the child.”Research has shown babies who are breastfed have lower risks of several short- and long-term health problems, while mothers who breastfeed can lower their risk of breast cancer and hypertension.
Mothers also are more likely to return to work when they have an employer that supports their decision to continue to provide breastmilk for their baby. The Fair Labor Standard Act requires employers to provide break time and space for nursing mothers to express their milk. Abodeely said UTMC and The University of Toledo have embraced this to the benefit of their employees, students and families.
UTMC’s updated lactation room is located in Dowling Hall Room 0254. The upgrades were completed in part through a Creating Healthy Communities grant from the Ohio Department of Health. UTMC also provided support.
Monecca Smith, chief nursing officer at UTMC, said a survey of students and employees clearly demonstrated there was a need for an improved location where women can pump breast milk.
“We felt it was important to give our employees a nice, quiet, cozy space to decompress from the stressors of their job. Equally, we want to give them flexible break time so they can continue to offer the benefit of breastfeeding to their children while working,” Smith said.
The room can be divided by a curtain to allow privacy for two women at a time. Each side has been equipped with a glider rocker, drawers with tubing and other supplies, and a hospital-grade breast pump. There’s also a refrigerator to store breast milk and a microwave for sterilizing pump parts.
The room is open to all employees and does not need to be booked in advance.
UTMC and the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department are currently collecting feedback from University employees about the new room.
There is a second lactation room on Health Science Campus in Dowling Hall Room 2319.
UT has three lactation rooms on Main Campus:
• Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women, Tucker Hall Room 0168.
• University Counseling Center, Main Campus Medical Center Room 1550A (usage of this room can be scheduled in person or by calling 419.530.2426).
• Thompson Student Union Room 2574 (usage of this room needs to be scheduled in advance by visiting Thompson Student Union Room 2525 or calling 419.530.2931).