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Friday June 24th

UNC provides space for new mothers

The Maleikka Hardy Williams Lactation Room, one of nine lactation rooms on campus, is located on the third floor in the Union.
Buy Photos The Maleikka Hardy Williams Lactation Room, one of nine lactation rooms on campus, is located on the third floor in the Union.

She said she’s now more aware of the stigma surrounding breastfeeding in public.

Kent said because she is around students a lot during the day, washing her nursing equipment in the kitchen at work can be awkward.

Kent has been back at work for just a few weeks after recently giving birth and says her work environment has been supportive.

“I think they’ve been very accommodating, and that has helped the transition tremendously,” she said.

According to Section 4207 of the Affordable Care Act, every business with at least 50 employees should have a private space for mothers to nurse, but this space cannot be a bathroom. The law does not specifically say how many lactation spaces a business should have.

Kent said it is rare for most women to have an office with a door that locks and a refrigerator in the closet like she does.

The University gives mothers time to nurse or pump milk and has its own basic requirements for the lactation spaces, described in the Lactation Support Policy, which was adopted in 2010. UNC’s lactation rooms must be 7 feet by 9 feet, lock from the inside and have a sink with hot water within 250 feet.

The size of the facility, the number of people breastfeeding and the amount of time it would take to travel to the lactation space are all factors UNC’s policy considers in creating or designating spaces.

There are 10 lactation rooms on campus, according to the Carolina Women’s Center.

Clare Counihan, program coordinator for the Carolina Women’s Center, recently proposed a plan to the Faculty Executive Committee to increase the number of rooms on campus by 42.

“The Carolina Women’s Center is working with facilities and the tenants of buildings to add permanent, designated lactation spaces,” she said.

The University had already committed to including lactation facilities in all new construction and renovations of existing buildings, Counihan said in an email.

She said the Women’s Center, along with the University, is trying to make a lactation room available within a five-minute walk of all buildings on campus.

Counihan said the initial reaction from Faculty Executive Committee was supportive and even enthusiastic.

Jim Gregory, director of media relations, said UNC is examining how best to add more lactation rooms on campus.

Counihan said there are multiple reasons why lactation spaces are necessary, including allowing women to return to work and students to return to school while continuing to breastfeed.

Counihan said these rooms are one way the University is supporting gender equality at work.

Faculty Chairman Bruce Cairns said faculty governance is always looking to help diverse groups on campus feel welcome and have their voices heard.

“The Faculty Council is very active in women’s issues as it relates to the workplace,” he said. “And that includes lactation rooms.”

Here is a map of the lactation rooms on campus: 

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