University of Delaware
A space in McDowell Hall has been designated as a "nursing mothers room."

Nursing mothers rooms

UD expands accommodations for nursing mothers to McDowell Hall

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11:31 a.m., Feb. 12, 2015--In 2010, the Affordable Health Care Act dictated that reasonable accommodations be made for nursing mothers, and the University of Delaware supported that practice by providing two secure spaces designated as “nursing mothers rooms” on campus.

Today, a third room was added, providing a safe, clean, private and comfortable space on the north end of campus for mothers to express breast milk for their infant children. 

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The third space is located in 214A McDowell Hall, thanks to Dean Kathy Matt’s agreement to convert a College of Health Sciences storage room as the new location. 

Anne DeCaire, recruitment officer in the School of Nursing, approached the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) in the fall about designating a space on the north side of campus, citing the benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and their infants. 

“It was brought to my attention that we had a number of staff and faculty pregnant in McDowell Hall and all were without a private place to express milk,” DeCaire said. “I am sensitive to this issue because I am a maternal/child nurse and I had recently returned from maternity leave in January of 2014. There is a misconception that an office is ‘private.’ This was recently demonstrated when a member of our staff was pumping and was interrupted when a maintenance employee opened her door to fix the heater.”

DeCaire said that “mothers need a truly private and calm place to pump and store milk.”

Working with Becki Fogerty, OEI associate director, DeCaire said they have achieved the creation of such a space in McDowell Hall, home to the School of Nursing and the CHS dean’s staff.

“McDowell is the perfect building to promote wellness and health for mothers and babies, by encouraging breast feeding and pumping for the first year of babies’ lives," she said.

Research shows that providing accommodations for breast-feeding mothers also offers tremendous rewards for the employer, in cost savings for health care, reduced absenteeism, employee morale and employee retention. 

OEI and DeCaire worked with UD Facilities to convert the room into a comfortable lounge where mothers can relax and rest while pumping. All three of the nursing mothers rooms on campus are available to any faculty, staff, student or visitor when then buildings are open, and operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It is great that we are able to offer another nursing mother’s room on a very busy and health-minded side of campus,” said Fogerty.

The UD policy on accommodations for nursing mothers in the workplace can be found on the University's personnel policies website. For questions regarding the UD policy, call 831-2171. For questions regarding the nursing mother rooms, contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion at 831-8063. 

The locations of the nursing mother rooms are as follows:

  • North Campus: 214A McDowell Hall, before the entrance to the women’s restroom. 
  • Central Campus: 346 Hullihen Hall, across from the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
  • East Campus: Perkins Student Center, Room 128.

Photos by Wenbo Fan

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