For many new mothers at Penn, the struggle to find a space to breast feed their child or pump their breast milk may soon come to an end.
The University has made the creation of additional lactation stations “an official priority,” according to Anita Mastroieni, the director of the Graduate Student Center and the Family Resource Center.
“Unless you’re a recent mother or are good friends with one, it’s not something that is going to jump to your mind necessarily,” Emily Joy Rothchild, a third-year graduate student and the former vice chairwoman of Student Life for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, wrote in an email regarding the importance of lactation spaces.
To mothers like Salome Ricklin-Lichtsteiner — who breastfed her newborn baby while completing her post-doctoral studies at Penn in 2009 — the shortage of lactation spaces on campus has made her a “convinced supporter of proper lactation” rooms.
Ricklin-Lichtsteiner now has two children, aged 1 and 3 and is a current member of New Parents@Penn.
Looking back on her days as a new mother where she was recommended to breastfeed her baby multiple times a day, she wrote in an email that “it would have taken way too much time to go to the only one I knew about at the Penn Women Center.”
A Penn staff member, who nursed her first child in 2009, recalls “feeling really frustrated … because there’s nothing here for me that fits my needs as a nursing mother, a staff member and a student.”
“It was such a convoluted way that I had to try to do this when it could have been much easier,” said the staff member who wished to remain anonymous to protect her privacy.
Women can now find lactation spaces in 10 locations around campus including the Women’s Center, the School of Design and the Graduate Student Center.
Mastroieni said that members of the Women’s Center, the Residences and Facilities office, the Office of the Provost, the Family Resource Center and Human Resources at Penn are working together on this issue because “it doesn’t just affect students, it affects faculty and staff.”
The lactation spaces “signal that the University is committed to creating family friendly workplaces,” Felicity Paxton, director of the Women’s Center, wrote in an email. She added that they help students, staff and faculty juggle the “competing demands of career, education and family.”
Although Rothchild called this a significant increase, Ricklin-Lichtsteiner wrote that she hopes there would be a lactation space no more than a five minute walk from every work place. She added that it “may be a dream but it is worth believing it.”
At the Family Resource Center, Mastroieni said it is not unusual for women to have to wait to use the lactation space. However, she said “we recognize that this is a need and the University, at the highest level, has recognized this as a problem.”
“There’s a pretty good distribution around campus but we definitely need more,” she added.
“Though you might not be a mother, we want Penn to be a friendly and inclusive place for new parents,” Rothchild wrote. “What does the Penn student look like? There are many answers to that and one of them is a woman with an infant.”Comments powered by Disqus
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