Thursday, February 3, 2011

Breastfeeding support at Penn State

Penn State has made some claims lately about how progressive they are when it comes to supporting breastfeeding moms returning to work, claiming they are "ahead of the game".

While it is true that they recently instituted a policy (HR-20) that prevents some discrimination of breastfeeding moms who want to pump at work, they have a long way to go, as does our entire nation.

Moms who can breastfeed their child (i.e. the child is on campus) are allowed to nurse anywhere, so long as the child does not remain in the office any longer than is needed for the nursing session, but there is no similar defense of moms who need to pump. In fact, HR-20 abstains from making any statement about where one can pump (i.e., defending where a lactating mother has the right to be when pumping). It is rather odd considering the scarcity and expense of on-campus childcare which prevents most new moms from being physically close enough to nurse their children during the day. Furthermore, most moms on campus do not have access to their own office in which they can pump discretely.

There are a handful of pumping stations to serve the community and access is not immediately available or even guaranteed (the training is once a month and you have to request to be added to the schedule before gaining access to the password and the single occupancy room. The room closest to me is very cold, in the basement, and has no sink. I am quite tempted to use the empty conference room on the fifth floor of my building which is private, warm and right next to a sink.

If this is ahead of the game, we have a long way to go. I'll write again after I learn about the policies at Berkeley.


Mike Russo said...

I don't see what the big deal is or why people have to be so uptight. You should be allowed to just whip it out and do what you gotta do to feed your baby. It's just a nipple people, get over it!

mathbionerd said...

I never had a problem with people breastfeeding in public before, and now that I'm inclined to be very vocal about it.

It is absurd that people are so squeamish about nipples and nursing. It makes the whole Janet Jackson, pasty nipple thing even more ridiculous. It shouldn't be scandalous to see a nipple. Granted, one might not want to stare at someone's nipples, but one shouldn't be offended by them either.

I'm sure I'll have many more stories to share about this - like how nearly every restaurant we've been to is completely unfriendly to nursing moms. But that is for another day.

Mike Russo said...

Then there is the whole sexist issue that it is somehow fine to see men's nipples, but not women's. Or that a movie or game can have all kinds of explosions and violence (even directly toward women) and that is fine, but the instant little johnny sees a nipple(!) people start getting offended. Ugh, it's all so stupid.