By Sara Pompeo
The Youngstown State University Department of Campus Recreation is now offering a lactation room to the YSU community. The room is located in Beeghly Center Room 200, across from the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
The lactation room is part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which “requires employers to provide nursing mothers with a reasonable break time and a room dedicated to supporting mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding while working or attending school. The room must be shielded from view, free from intrusion by co-workers and the public and cannot be a bathroom.”
Ryan McNicholas, coordinator of Fitness and Wellness Programs, said that this act is not the only reason the lactation room was put into use though.
“YSU’s Employee Wellness Program told us about the demand for a lactation room from staff and faculty members. It also goes along with our nine Pillars of Wellness,” McNicholas said.
The nine Pillars of Wellness are emotional, spiritual, career, physical, financial, aesthetic, environmental, social and intellectual wellness. McNicholas explained how each program or service offered helps to keep students, faculty and staff engaged in holistic wellness through at least one of these nine pillars.
The lactation room is part of a wellness suite located in Beeghly Center, which includes a waiting room, lactation room, bathroom and soon-to-be massage room. Nursing mothers are responsible for providing their own pumps and storage containers.
The actual lactation room provides running water, paper towels, adequate lighting, a table, a chair and an electrical outlet — meeting all the necessary requirements for the room. The room can be used one person at a time, for as long as the mother needs.
In the massage room, Massage Café Downtown will be offering chair massages to women who choose to use the suite. According to McNicholas, this feature will be available starting in January 2015.
“The room offers more benefits than a safe and clean environment for mothers, it also allows them to feel comfortable and de-stress from their day, which makes the room follow more than one of our nine Pillars of Wellness,” McNicholas said. “They also do not have to hide in the bathrooms anymore.”
In order to access the suite, mothers will need to check out a key from the administrative offices at the Rec Center. A valid YSU ID or driver’s license is required.
McNicholas explained how he and his wife are new parents, and about the benefits of having this room available for the YSU community.
“For my wife and I, our physician recommended breastfeeding in order for our baby to get all the essential nutrients it can get,” he said. “It is vital for brain development of the baby and burning calories for the mother.”
He explained how nursing mothers should take in more calories each day, because they are essentially eating for two. Mothers should eat healthy but try not to diet, in order to naturally provide essential nutrients to the baby.
The need for mothers to express their milk is vital because their bodies are on an internal clock to produce milk for their children. If this cannot happen on time, it could cause infections for the mother.
“Whatever we can do to help students and staff feel comfortable, we will try to do it,” McNicholas said. “We are devoted to the wellness of everyone, from nontraditional students to [faculty and] staff. This is a topic that needed to be dealt with on campus.”