Having a baby is a blur of emotion and activity. Adjusting to this new tiny life can be exciting and overwhelming, but going back to school or work afterward can be even harder.
Sometimes the struggle to get back to a new kind of normal is complicated by institutions that don’t understand that accommodations might have to be made to help an employee balance out motherhood with classes or meetings.
Take breast-feeding, for example. Some employers might not realize just how often a new baby eats. Or how much, in turn, a new mother who is breast-feeding has to be prepared to either feed her child or pump milk.
They might not get that breast-feeding isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Humans, it seems, don’t exactly come with faucets.
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Penn State acknowledges that “research shows that when mothers are provided with essential services to support breast-feeding and pumping, they can achieve their goals.” That’s why the university provides students and employees, plus spouses, a breast-feeding support program to help make being a mom and being a teacher/student/staff member just a little bit easier.
In addition to a library of parenting materials, certified lactation consultants, support groups, mentors and breast-feeding classes, the university also provides “lactation stations.”
What’s a lactation station? It’s a quiet, private room where a woman can nurse a child or use a pump comfortably, with desks and chairs and electrical outlets so that maybe she can work on her thesis or answer her email or grade papers at the same time.
Seven campuses provide the facilities. University Park campus has several, from the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center to the Bank of America Career Services building, with a new one just opening up at Pattee Library. The new station has an added bonus: unlike the other seven on campus, it will be available for use on evenings and weekends.
The rooms do come with a few responsibilities. For one, they are only available for 30 minutes at a time and arrangements have to be made in advance. There is also required orientation. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 867-0776.