Last spring, the Professional and Scientific Council took up the issue of lactation spaces on campus and -- after much input from the campus community -- determined there is a need for additional updated spaces and guidelines for their use and future development.
There is no way to gauge how many women use the university's lactation spaces, but they are available to all nursing mothers on campus, including employees, students and visitors.
"These spaces are just one more way we can foster family values and inclusivity on campus," said Julie Graden, childcare and family services program coordinator.
Last spring, employees from university human resources (UHR) and facilities planning and management (FPM) began to outline a coordinated approach to improve the lactation spaces. Over the summer, FPM managed remodeling efforts for half of the university's 18 permanent lactation spaces. The unit also provided $32,000 to create a new lactation space in Atanasoff Hall and improve several older spaces with new signage and aesthetically pleasing upgrades, such as paint, lamps, pillows and wall décor. In addition, FPM added many U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) standards to the rooms, including an electrical outlet, chair, table, privacy curtain or door, and made sure they were compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"In addition to meeting the DOL's regulations, we tried to make the rooms as inviting as possible," Graden said.
Temporary spaces available
Various departments and buildings may provide temporary lactation spaces. Department supervisors or building representatives should know where these rooms are located.
Because the university does not officially monitor the temporary locations, it's difficult to know what changes those rooms may need. Kerry Dixon, FPM project manager, said Iowa State is happy to work with departments to improve the spaces.
"We are more than willing to help evaluate these temporary areas to make sure they are compliant with the Department of Labor's standards," Dixon said. "If some of these spaces could also be included on the university's lactation spaces list, that would be great."
More to come
Guidelines for lactation spaces, including what unit or units will be responsible for their ongoing administration and funding, still are in the works within UHR and FPM. A plan for adding more spaces on campus also is being developed.
"The long-term desire is to identify additional locations across campus, especially in the southeast corner of central campus, including Heady, East, Food Science, Curtiss, Gerdin and the Memorial Union," Dixon said.
In the meantime, Graden said nursing and expectant mothers with questions or concerns about lactation spaces should speak with their supervisors or contact the Margaret Sloss Women's Center, 294-4154.
Council considering recommendations for lactation spaces, April 7, 2016