The University Senate recommends that the University of Minnesota administration analyze existing lactation resources and form a comprehensive lactation support implementation plan, including appointment of a committee, that will improve the wellbeing of students, employees, and their children.
The University of Minnesota has a commitment to the wellness of students and employees. Mother's milk is regarded as the optimal and preferred source of nutrition for babies by the American Academy of Pediatrics(1), the American College of Nurse-Midwives (2), the American Public Health Association (3), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (4), and the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (5). The first three of these groups have made the evidence-based recommendation that breastfeeding without any type of food or mother's milk supplements should occur through infants' first six months followed by the gradual introduction of solid foods and continued breastfeeding through the first year or beyond. All of these organizations have called for school and workplace lactation support in their position statements.
There are not enough lactation spaces available on our campuses; other universities comparable to the University of Minnesota offer more lactation space per capita. University students and staff who are unable to access lactation space have described or been seen using bathroom stalls, which are not sanitary, and parking ramps, which are not safe, for milk expression.
Women's prenatal or early postpartum intention to work full-time has been associated with significantly lower rates of breastfeeding initiation and shorter intended and actual duration (6, 7). Also, returning to work outside the home has been related to premature weaning (6). However, most of the 43 UMN women who used one nursing mothers' room on campus and responded to a survey reported that the workplace lactation support made it possible for them to continue breastfeeding longer and more completely than would have been possible otherwise (8). Typical workplace barriers include a lack of flexibility in the work schedule to express milk, lack of accommodations for pumping and storing breast milk, perceptions of lack of support from employers and colleagues, and actual or perceived milk supply problems (9, 10).
According to a 2012 survey conducted by the University of Minnesota, Student Parent HELP Center, 51% of respondents to a lactation survey, who had given birth in the last three years, discontinued breastfeeding because of lack of access to lactation space. Four percent of students dropped out of school or delayed enrollment due to lack of access (11).
Students, staff and faculty who are new mothers need safe, clean lactation spaces, on campus, near their classrooms and workplaces, so they can successfully maintain lactation while meeting their student or employee obligations. Availability of these spaces is consistent with principles of Universal Design (12, 13) in order to accommodate access for all nursing mothers .
Lactation is associated with many employer benefits, including greater productivity, morale, loyalty and acknowledgment of the workplace as "family-friendly"(14).
U.S. Federal law (15) and Minnesota state law (16) require that an employer provide reasonable break time and space, other than a bathroom stall, where an employee can express breast milk in privacy. There are excellent resources available to help leaders in schools and workplaces accommodate the needs of lactating women (10, 17).
Institutional support would foster creative multi-departmental solutions to increase and improve lactation resources on our campuses by addressing concerns of space, access, maintenance, communication, education, and coordination of lactation resources.
1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk: Policy Statement. Pediatrics 2005;115(2):496-506.
2. American College of Nurse-Midwives. Breastfeeding. Position Statement, 2011. Available at:
http://www.midwife.org/ACNM/files/ACNMLibraryData/UPLOADFILENAME/000000000248/Breastfeeding%20statement%20May%202011.pdf. Accessed March 29, 2013.
3. American Public Health Association. A call to action on breastfeeding: A fundamental public health issue. Policy Statement Database, Policy No. 200714, 2007. Available at
4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Breastfeeding: Maternal and infant aspects. ACOG committee opinion No. 361. Obstetrics & Gynecology 2007;109(2, Part 1):479-480.
5. Association of Woman's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. Breastfeeding. Position Statement, 2007. Available at: http://www.awhonn.org/awhonn/content.do?name=00_Home/00_nonmembersfree.htm. Accessed March 29, 2013.
6. Avery M, Duckett L, Dodgson J, Savik K, Henly SJ. Factors associated with very early weaning among primiparas intending to breastfeed. Maternal and Child Health Journal 1998;2(3):167-179.
7. Fein SB, Roe B. The effect of work status on initiation and duration of breast-feeding. American Journal of Public Health 1998;88(7):1042-1046.
8. Holle M, Duckett L. Experiences and perceptions of women who used a nursing mothers' room in a university setting (UMN) [Poster] 2012. American Public Health Association, 138th Annual Meeting, San Francisco.
9. Carothers C, Hare I. The business case for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Medicine 2010;5(5):229-231.
10. Shealy KR, Li R, Benton-Davis S, Grummer-Strawn LM. Support for breastfeeding in the workplace. The CDC guide to breastfeeding interventions, 2005. Atlanta: U.S., Department of Health and Human Services,
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/resources/guide.htm. Accessed March 29, 2013.
11. Corbett A, Warfield S. University of Minnesota lactation survey. Young Student Parent Support Initiative Expansion Grant. Funded by the Minnesota Department of Health; 2012.
12. Aqena, Inc., GSC Architects. Designing better lactation accommodations [slide presentation], 2012. Available at:
http://www.neocon.com/tasks/sites/Neocon/assets/pdf/presentations/M144%20%20Designing%20Better%20Lactation%20Accommodations.pdf. Accessed April 10, 2013.
13. York L. Lactation Room Design. AIA [American Institute of Architects] Best Practices, 2008. Available at: http://www.aia.org/aiaucmp/groups/ek_public/documents/pdf/aiap037226.pdf. Accessed April 10, 2013.
14. Tuttle CR, Slavit WI. Establishing the business case for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Medicine 2009;4(Suppl. 1):S59-S62.
15. U.S. Government Printing Office. Reasonable break time for nursing mothers. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 2010; Section 4207: 1217. Available at:
http://housedocs.house.gov/rules/hr4872/111_hr3590_engrossed.pdf. Accessed March 29, 2013.
16. Minnesota Revisor of Statutes. Nursing mothers. Minnesota Statutes 2012; Chapt. 181, Sect. 939. Available at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=181.939&year=2012. Accessed March 29, 2013.
17. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health. Breastfeeding: Business Case for Breastfeeding 2010. Available at:
http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/government-in-action/business-case-for-breastfeeding/. Accessed March 29, 2013.