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Lactation Stations Make the School Day Easier for Student Moms

November 22, 2016 -- Moms now have more private and comfortable places to nurse their babies or pump breast milk on CNM campuses, due in part to the Executive Council of Students (ECOS).
Lactation Stations Make the School Day Easier for Student Moms

Nov 22, 2016

In her role as president of ECOS last year, Tisha Hudetz said many students contacted her about barriers they face in completing their degrees. The main theme that emerged was that students needed more support to keep their families thriving while they were taking the time to go to school.

“ECOS took on initiatives to help provide more resources to students who wanted to be successful in family life and school life,” Hudetz said. “Among those resources were lactation stations that would make nursing more comfortable and private.”

A lactation station is a room that is located in a safe, clean and comfortable area where nursing mothers can go to pump or nurse in private. The stations consist of a private room with a lock, comfortable chairs, table and access to electrical outlets. They have sinks and will soon have refrigerators available for proper storage.

Hudetz noted that based on the numbers of women at CNM in 2014, there were 15,081 students, 638 faculty and 572 staff for a total of 16,291 women on campus that year. At any given time, a significant number of them might be nursing.

“Lactation stations are important because they address a very real oversight in our society,” Hudetz said. “By establishing a physical room for women to use to support the health and wellbeing of their children, we are also eliminating additional hurdles that stand between women and their education and career.”

She added that providing lactation stations on campus helps to reduce absenteeism. Human milk protects infants’ health. Students will miss fewer days of school to take care of sick babies. They also increase graduation rates. Fewer days of missed classes improve students’ likelihood of graduating.

The Dean of Students office  provided seed funding for the project, and ECOS allocated $30,000 to complete it.

Currently there are nine lactation stations on CNM campuses, two of which are designated specifically for that purpose. Students, faculty and staff may request the use of the room at the front desk at any time the campuses are open.

The locations include: Main Campus – Student Services Center, Room 207-H and North Building, Room 213-B (The key to this room is in the Human Resources Office); Montoya Campus – G Building conference room and I Building conference room; Westside Campus – Michael J. Glennon Building, Room 201-D and Westside II, Room 205-G; South Valley Campus – SV-I, Room 103; Rio Rancho Campus – RR-210 conference room; and Workforce Training Center – Room 132.

Lactation stations are becoming more common at universities and colleges around the country. Some of the major ones include Penn State, University of New Mexico, University of Washington, University of Michigan, University of Arizona, University of Kansas, University of Houston and Southern Connecticut State University.

Because lactation stations are so new at CNM, Hudetz has no usage figures for the college. However, use is high at neighboring UNM. From June 30, 2015 to Sept. 29, 2016 the lactation stations at the university have been used 9,707 times.

“Many women bring their babies and children onto campus,” Hudetz said. “If you look around the Student Services Center at the beginning of any term, you will see students with children of all ages registering for classes, meeting with advisors and consulting with Financial Aid and other offices. The lactation stations make it easier for the moms to go to school.”