Administration debates lactation rooms

The Murray State Faculty and Staff Insurance and Benefits Committee proposed to add lactation rooms to future buildings and renovations on campus to the University Administration in January of this year.

Many of you read the word “lactation rooms” and reread it to ensure that you read it right; that is what it says – lactation.

Lactation rooms are private spaces for mothers to pump breast milk and breastfeed their children. These are hot topics of discussion, spurring opposition on both sides. They are defined as non-bathroom spaces with comfortable seating, running water and electricity.

Many companies that offer their employees lactation rooms will set up a few small rooms or one larger room with curtained-off sections that have small lamps and lounge chairs. The important thing about the rooms is that they have a hard, flat surface for women to set up their breast pumps.

There are so many thoughts and opinions that fly around at just the mention of rooms like that; why should women be forced to breastfeed in a certain room? Why can’t they just feed their babies in the bathroom? Why should the school waste funding on that? Why wasn’t this already something put into practice?

They seemingly go on, and on, and on, and on, and…

You get the point.

So, let’s get down to business. Lactation rooms are a wonderful idea for more reasons than one.

No, women should not be told where they have to breastfeed their child. It is nothing if not natural, and anyone who says differently is wrong. If a woman feeding an infant with her breast, as the female body works, bothers a person, then it is that person who is behaving unacceptably.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that people objectify each other. Men do it to women and women do it to men. Humans are sexual beings, and it is quite grotesque at times.

This objectification of women has led to this sick, perverted sexualization of breastfeeding. Men and women alike will claim that a woman breastfeeding in public is making them uncomfortable because her breasts, “objects” meant “purely for sex and pleasure,” are in direct view.

Breastfeeding is not erotic, it is natural. It is a mother feeding her child. It is the miracle of the human body in action, and to treat it any differently is disrespectful.

No, women should not be forced to breastfeed in a specific room if they do not wish to, and this addition of lactation rooms would not require women to do that.

However, many women do struggle with being so exposed to the public eye; they welcome the privacy that a lactation room would offer. Not only privacy, but also protection from the prying eyes of the perverted individuals lurking in society.

Pumping is also a very different story, and lactation rooms were thought of specifically for women who pump. The University plans for their own lactation rooms to mainly be there for mothers who pump rather than directly breastfeeding. The majority of women who pump rather than directly breastfeed their children prefer escaping the public view. Pumping can be a very personal and private matter. You are much more exposed when pumping than when breastfeeding.

Many have said women seeking privacy should just go to the bathroom. Why waste money on a lookalike room when they can find their safety there?

The only response is this: would you like to eat your lunch in a bacteria-infested bathroom where people excrete their waste? Most likely not.

Following that statement, lactation rooms and bathrooms are exceedingly different rooms. Everyone knows the cold tile of the bathroom floor, the mixed scents of excrement and cleaner that don’t mingle very well and the not-so-pleasant sounds that come with restrooms.

Lactation rooms look similar to simple lounges. Mothers can sit on comfortable seating; many workplaces offer cushioned chairs with good back support. There is much softer lighting in most of these rooms, and no noises to distract or startle the mother and child. There are sinks for cleanup and hand washing, refrigerators to store the milk, and counters for women to set up pumps and extra outlets.

This seems like a much nicer, calmer place to feed a baby. It’s also much more private and feels safer. It also offers a place to pump, whereas a bathroom does not.

Yes, lactation rooms would make a great addition to any building on campus.

The worrisome thing is, though, that Murray State does not have the best track record of following through on renovations and constructions. J.H. Richmond College has been out of commission since the incident, and work on the building has seemingly been nonexistent.

Why would the renovation of any other buildings on campus be any different? They’ve been fixing the roof on Lee Clark College for almost two semesters now.

It’s a roof.

Of one building.

The Blackburn Science Building is under renovations currently, however, and the Faculty and Staff Insurance and Benefits Committee has suggested that as one of the first buildings that could become home to a lactation room. The building’s renovations are done in sections, making progress somewhat slow, but we could see a lactation room added in the not-so-distant future.

Kudos to the Murray State Faculty and Staff Insurance and Benefits Committee for a wonderful, welcome idea, truly. It would be absolutely amazing for the University to go through with it, but whether or not it dedicates as much care to lactation rooms as it should is yet to be seen.