After spending two months
caring for and bonding with her newborn daughter,
Nikole Mac was apprehensive—like
many new mothers are—about returning to full-time employment.
Mac, education specialist in Staff Development,
was anxious at the thought of spending time away
from little Camille, and she was concerned about
whether her work schedule would allow her to continue
Not only did Mac discover that the University Services
Building has a private lactation room with an electric
pump, she found that being able to express her milk
during work breaks made her feel better about returning
"Being able to pump here has been
wonderful. It's so convenient—it's a luxury that I don't even
have to leave the building," Mac says. "It's
really made a difference. I feel better about working
full-time, and it makes it easier to be away from
The Family Services Office, part of Human Resources'
Organizational Effectiveness and WorkLife Services,
collaborates with various campus departments to offer
support to faculty and staff mothers who want to
breastfeed their babies. There are 18 lactation rooms
across campus, many of which are equipped with electric
pumps, and new parents are encouraged to take informational
classes at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
In order to pump and bottle milk for her baby to
consume at a later time, Mac signs up for two 15-minutes
slots a day at the USB lactation room. The private
room—no one can enter without a key—is located off
of the third-floor women's restroom. It has a chair,
a pump, a sink, a counter, and a mirror. Mac, who
often leads Staff Development courses in the Iowa
Memorial Union, also uses a lactation room in the
IMU when she is teaching there.
for breastfeeding mothers returning to
in the know. Deborah Hubbard,
lactation specialist at UIHC, teaches
several classes on breastfeeding, including
Breastfeeding & Returning to Work.
The fee is $10. Hubbard also leads a
weekly support group for breastfeeding
families. For more information, call
it out. Talk to your supervisor
before you take maternity leave and let
him or her know that you plan to continue
breastfeeding after you return to work.
ahead. Find a lactation room that will be
convenient for you to use, and visit the
site before you give birth. Also, figure
out what pump accessories you will need to
list of lactation rooms on campus is available
yourself. Leave the baby with
another caregiver at least once, if only
for a few hours, before you return to work.
Doing so may ease the initial anxiety of
being away from your child and help you
concentrate on your work responsibilities.
yourself. Return to your job midweek.
This may help smooth the transition for
both you and your baby.
for supervisors on creating a supportive
sensitivity to the needs of breastfeeding
flexible with scheduled breaks.
accommodating. If there isn't a lactation
room nearby, provide a private, comfortable
area where mothers can express their milk.
new parents of the Family Services Office.
more information regarding services to mothers
who breastfeed, call the Family Services
Office at (33)5-1371 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
"The support I've received at work means the
world to me," Mac says. "Breastfeeding
is healthy for moms and babies, but if it weren't
for the support I've received here, I feel it would
be hard to continue it."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding
for the first 12 months of life. Not only is breast
milk easier for infants to digest, it contains antibodies
that help protect them from bacteria and viruses-reducing
illness in both babies and mothers. Breastfeeding
also may lower the risk of breast cancer and ovarian
According to figures collected by the U.S. government,
64 percent of mothers across the nation breastfeed
in the early postpartum period. However, breastfeeding
rates drop dramatically—to about 25 percent—when
women go back to work.
To counteract this drop and to increase the numbers
in general, the U.S. Office on Women's Health is
launching a $40 million campaign this fall to raise
awareness of the importance of breastfeeding. Ads
will stress the importance of exclusively breastfeeding
for six months. National objectives are to increase
breastfeeding rates to 75 percent at birth, 50 percent
at six months, and 25 percent at one year by the
year 2010. (In 1998, those figures were at 64, 29,
and 16, respectively.)
Deborah Hubbard is working hard to raise awareness
at the local level. She has been employed at UIHC
since 1976, teaching childbirth education classes
and working in the postpartum unit, and has been
the hospital's lactation specialist since 1999. She
educates parents and hospital staff about the benefits
of breastfeeding, sees patients (at no charge) who
have questions or concerns, and speaks at national
"We could save billions of dollars a year if
more babies were breastfed. Healthier babies benefit
all of us," says Hubbard, noting that fewer
antibiotics are needed to treat breastfed babies
and that breastfeeding moms take fewer sick days. "We
need to get more employers to step up to the plate."
Hubbard commends the University for its support
of breastfeeding mothers. Not only are lactation
rooms planned into the design of all new University
buildings, some UI insurance policies will cover
80 percent of the cost of an electric pump (up to
"I think we have a lot to be proud of at the
University," says Jane Holland, coordinator
of the Family Services Office. "I have not heard
of another institution with the number of rooms that
"To women who want to continue breastfeeding,
the University is saying, 'Breastfeeding is important—there
is medical evidence that shows mom and baby are healthier.
We support you.'"
by Sara Epstein Moninger