Those who breastfeed on Ohio University’s main campus can turn to one of seven lactation rooms that offer a private, comfortable breastfeeding experience.
A new area for those who need to chestfeed will be opening soon in The Convo. The Women’s Center raised money to purchase a mamava, which is a portable lactation pod.
The total cost of the mamava is $25,000, Samantha Pelham, university spokesperson, said. The pod itself costs $24,300, and another $700 was commissioned for the design of the mamava. The cost of installation is not yet known, Pelham said.
When the mamava arrives, Women’s Center Director Geneva Murray hopes to do a marketing push for all of the lactation rooms on campus. Murray thinks this is a good idea to raise awareness on where the rooms are located.
“We are doing so well in terms of getting additional spaces,” Murray said. “An area we’re not doing so well in is getting the word out.”
Lactation rooms have been open on OU’s main Athens campus since 2007. The first of those rooms was Baker 353.
“The Southern campus had one of the first lactation rooms, and that spread immediately through the other campuses,” Regional Higher Education Dean Bill Willan said.
The rooms are available for anyone who may need to “chestfeed,“ as they are inclusive of trans and gender non-binary individuals. Murray said she takes some of the credit for the opening of lactation rooms but not all of it.
There was a lactation room committee that began pushing for areas for those who need to breastfeed in a private space. Dianne Bouvier was the creator of the lactation room committee, which formed when Murray began her job as the Women’s Center director.
“Dianne gathered several of us and said that she thought that this was a really good opportunity with having a new director, and then also some of the other new hires in terms of our perspectives,” Murray said. “I think she also saw it as a way for her to really help promote women in terms of taking this sort of leadership opportunity on campus.”
Aside from the work of the lactation room committee and the Women’s Center, some locations on campus established their own lactation rooms. Alden Library got lactation rooms on its own, as did McCracken Hall.
Murray spoke about the lactation rooms during a Student Senate in January. Murray addressed how the Women’s Center is trying to create guidelines for the lactation rooms in order to keep the rooms consistent and comfortable for users.
“Even for the rooms that the lactation committee wasn’t working on in terms of creating, (the Women’s Center) worked with different rooms to make sure that we were updating the stuff that was in it,” Murray said.
The Women’s Center provides most of the resources found in each lactation room. Some of the resources include gliders, ottomans, tables and microwaves. The Women’s Center is also trying to get Medela Symphony pumps in each room. Those pumps cost about $2,000 each and are hospital-grade pumps. Murray said it’s important for the Women’s Center to try to provide pumps in the rooms.
“The reason that that’s so important is because for people who are transient, who maybe don’t have a home office they’re always going to be in … it means that if you want to use the pump that we have provided, you only need to bring your own attachments,” Murray said. “You’re not having to lug around a big heavy pump all day to be able to use it, which is really exciting for us.”
The Women’s Center supports breastfeeding in every form, Murray said. More lactation rooms open means additional options for those who breastfeed, but it doesn’t mean lactation rooms are the only option for breastfeeding.
“Just because there’s an increase in lactation rooms doesn’t mean that’s where we think people should go in order to be able to pump,” Murray said. “It does mean that we want options. So if people want to be in a private place, they can be.”