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Herstory of Lactation Support at WVU

In 2003 the WVU Child Development and Family Support Services (CDFSS), under the direction of Leslie Haning, began offering a private home-like atmosphere for nursing mothers (originally located in Room 103D Purinton House, now located in One Waterfront).

In 2006, with the support of the Council for Women’s Concern’s (CWC), Leslie Tower developed an informal network of WVU employees who were willing to let a nursing faculty, staff, and students use their private space to express milk. The Lactation Network was housed and maintained on the CWC website until it was transferred to the WVU ADVANCE Center. The State Journal reported the story.

In the summer of 2011, the ADVANCE Center took over the Lactation Network. Dr. Tower, co-PI on the grant, worked with the Provost’s office to develop a formal Lactation Program that offers accessible lactation rooms and reasonable break times to employees and students. The Program calls for new buildings and buildings that are renovated to consider including a dedicated lactation room. A model for dedicated lactation rooms was designed, based on he Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) recommendations.

The Lactation Program, implemented in August 2012, stipulates that “…supervisors should make every reasonable accommodation to support the needs of nursing mothers.” This includes, for example, staff not having to clock-out on MyTime to express milk or permitting individuals to modify their schedules to allow for breaks. Also in August 2012, the WV Breastfeeding Alliance donated four multi-user pumps for WVU dedicated lactation rooms.

In 2017, the ADVANCE Center redesigned the Lactation Network website and restructured the Lactation Network. Drs. Tower and Jackson worked with students in WGST 383B: Women and Food, to assist this process, including making the Network gender inclusive. Rebecca Rohn, coordinated the project for the class.

In an effort to better support those who are breastfeeding and increase options for expressing milk while on campus, individual employees offering space is being phased-out. In their place, dedicated lactation rooms are being built and institutional schedulers (e.g., staff in the Eberly Dean’s office) are being phased-in.