Anthropology student works to bring lactation rooms to campus
Student and mother Tori Geter is working to provide breast-feeding mothers at the university with a private, comfortable and safe space to breast feed or pump while on campus.
Signs stating “the inclusive we” decorate the Southern Oregon University campus, and students are encouraged to express themselves, but there are still some populations on campus looking for their space of their own–breastfeeding mothers is one example, according to Geter.
“There is a huge need for public places with a population of women who are of childbearing age to have these spaces,” Geter said. “I want to provide a community of support for breastfeeding women.”
Geter is working to get lactation rooms on campus as part of her practicum work, as an anthropology student. She decided to do her practicum work at the university after her son was born and she was unable to find a private space to pump on campus.
She said breastfeeding mothers on campus are often forced to pump in bathrooms because of the lack of private spaces.
“Would you want to eat your lunch in the bathroom?” Geter said. “It’s not a place to feed or pump.”
Geter is working with Vice President of Student Affairs Jon Eldridge and Associate Provost Sue Walsh to create at least two spaces on campus for breastfeeding mothers.
“For new mothers, being able to breastfeed, pump, etc. in a private, safe, convenient environment is important,” Eldridge said in an e-mail. “Especially when trying to juggle a class schedule and/or work along with a young child and their needs.”
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, only 75 percent of American mothers in 2010 initiated breastfeeding, while only 43 percent were still breastfeeding at the end of six months and only 13 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at the end of six months.
The Surgeon General’s Healthy People 2020 objectives are to encourage breastfeeding,–with hopes that 82 percent of women will have ever breastfed, 61 percent will at six months and 34 percent at one year.
“Some people might not think it’s necessary,” Geter said. “But the act of breastfeeding is important.”
Children who are breastfed have low rates of illness and mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of postpartum depression compared to mothers who do not breastfeed, according to the Surgeon General.
Geter is still working to secure a location for the lactation rooms on campus, but said possible locations might be in the Stevenson Union and Hannon Library.
Several universities across the country have supported the idea of lactation rooms by having them created on their own campuses. Oregon State University currently has 12 lactation rooms on campus.