Nursing moms seek refuge from prying eyes

By Cindy Pantoja, Staff Writer

A designated Lactation Room was added to Contra Costa College this fall in an attempt to assist the underserved pregnant and nursing women at this institution.
One of the advantages of having a lactation room is that employees and students who breastfeed will miss fewer days of work or instruction because they can express their milk on campus and use it later.
Studies have shown it also increases employee productivity and student satisfaction.
“Is important to have a Lactation Room on campus,” Nursing Program Director Sandra Castillo said. “We advocate for breastfeeding because it is the most natural way to keep both the mother and baby healthy.”
The California Education Code Section 222 states that a school operated by a school district or a county office of education in California shall provide reasonable accommodations to a lactating pupil on a school campus to express breast milk, breastfeed an infant child or address other needs related to breastfeeding.
In a college, where according to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 4,000 of its students and faculty are women, CCC hasn’t made a full effort to assist with breastfeeding needs.
Instructional Counseling Assistant Vanessa Johnson said, “The only resources available for pregnant and breastfeeding students right now are the lactation room and baby formula in the Food Pantry.”
The Lactation Room is located in SA-124 (in the back of the Student Lounge).
The room is only available for CCC students and employees who are nursing mothers.
Hours of operation for the space are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
If access to the room is needed at other times, or on Saturday, users should contact Police Services.
The room provides a lockable door, work surface and chair, cleaning supplies, paper towels, electrical outlets and a small refrigerator.
Mothers are responsible for providing their own personal breast pump and accessories.
Repurposing a room for lactation cost about $2,000 and not having more rooms of this kind on college campuses is often a matter of mindset rather than cost.
Student Life Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks said, “There is only one Lactation Room on campus and there are no plans for more.”
Lactation laws were created to ease the task of breastfeeding for students and employees, but the women at CCC still struggling with this task.
The Lactation Room is within a five-minute walk from most buildings on campus. However, this walk adds to the 15 minutes it takes to empty both breasts resulting in almost 30 minutes of missing productivity or instruction.
Financial Aid Office assistant Maria Sandoval said, “I had to breastfeed (in public) once and even though my breasts were covered people looked at me weird. Some of them even said, ‘Why are people still breastfeeding?’ That made me feel very uncomfortable.”