Breastfeeding-friendly spaces open on campus

Three spaces located in the Ban Righ Centre, the Queen’s School of Nursing and the SGPS Family Room in the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) 

Each of the three rooms features a comfortable chair, an electrical outlet and informational pamphlets, as well as sanitization facilities such as a sink, a changing table, hand sanitizer or baby wipes.
Each of the three rooms features a comfortable chair, an electrical outlet and informational pamphlets, as well as sanitization facilities such as a sink, a changing table, hand sanitizer or baby wipes.
Credit: 
Supplied by Kristen Wong

Thanks to two Nursing students, mothers on Queen's campus now have three new spaces where they can breastfeed. 

The rooms provide private spaces where new mothers can breastfeed without having to leave campus. They’re located in the Ban Righ Centre, the Queen’s School of Nursing and the SGPS Family Room in the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC). The latter of three opened earlier this year.

Each of the three rooms features a comfortable chair, an electrical outlet and informational pamphlets, as well as sanitization facilities such as a sink, a changing table, hand sanitizer or baby wipes.

The two nursing students who spearheaded the iniative, Kyrinne Lockhart and Rachel Hannigan, are both training as maternity nurses in the Queen’s Advanced Standing Track (AST) Nursing program.

As a part of their Community Health Nursing Practicum, Lockhart and Hannigan discovered that up to 10 per cent of women stop breastfeeding due to a return to work or to school, according to a 2013 StatsCan report. 

After this discovery, the two second-year students learned that Queen’s doesn’t have a policy in place to accommodate breastfeeding students. 

“Let’s say, for example, you’re a student writing an examination and you need to pump or breastfeed — there is [no policy] to say what needs to be done or how to accommodate you,” Hannigan said. 

Working alongside two Queen’s School of Nursing faculty members, Alicia Papanicolaou and Dr. Katie Goldie, the students attempted to reach breastfeeding students on campus. 

But surveying breastfeeding mothers on campus would require approval from an ethics board — something they simply didn’t have time for during their 12-week practicum. 

“It’s an invisible population to us and there’s no way to collect data to quantify the population. We believe that they are even more vulnerable because they aren’t really known,” Hannigan said. 

The two students were approached by several mothers after they began work on the project. 

One student mother said that she'd been breastfeeding when she began classes this past September, but had to discontinue her studies after a few weeks due to a lack of breastfeeding space on campus. 

“It’s sad to think that had she had these spaces then, it might have been easier for her,” Hannigan said.

While SGPS opened a parenting room in the JDUC earlier this year, the space was the only one of its kind. Lockhart and Hannigan saw that more rooms were needed. 

The two students determined what space was available for their initiative, and conducted research on best practices, workplace accommodation case studies and related legal cases. The pair also consulted with a Public Health Ontario consultant specializing in making workplaces breastfeeding-friendly and universities that have undertaken similar initiatives, such as the University of British Columbia and University of Toronto. 

Lockhart and Hannigan’s goals extend beyond making campus more accessible for mothers. The pair also wants to change the culture on campus.

“The goal is to expand the breastfeeding culture itself,” Hannigan said. “One of the things we try to be very careful about is not advertising an anti-public breastfeeding culture.”

She said that while they “highly support” the use of public spaces for breastfeeding, she and Lockhart also understand that some mothers aren’t comfortable with that arrangement and require designated breastfeeding rooms. 

Students and staff can see the locations of breastfeeding-friendly spaces on campus online here.

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