News flash: sometimes moms are also students! We give SO much credit to moms who take on the challenge of bettering their education while breastfeeding their babies. And we recognize that breastfeeding can become more challenging when it’s time to head back to school.
That’s why we’ve outlined tips to make it easier for student moms – from knowing what your rights are for pumping at school, to making it work in practice.
Know Your Rights
Although many universities and colleges don’t have formal policies relating to breastfeeding, you still have rights under various state laws, as well as the Title IX protections if you attend a public institution.
- If your schedule is packed and you can’t fit a pumping session in between classes, your absence from class should be excused. Some schools may require a doctor’s note explaining why it’s medically necessary for you to pump.
- While the Department of Education encourages schools to provide breastfeeding students with a room for pumping, there is no law that requires it. If you find your ability to meet the needs of your classes is hindered due to lack of a pumping space, contact your school administration and ask how they can better accommodate you.
- Many states have laws in place that allows moms to breastfeed in any public or private space. So if you’re a student at the university and you’re comfortable nursing or pumping in public, go for it! Just remember to check your state laws first.
Making It Work
So now you know your rights, what’s the best way to fit pumping into your daily schedule?
- Talk to your professors if you need to be excused from a portion of class. Many instructors will be understanding, especially if you’re consistently putting in the work outside of class. Instead of leaving in the middle of class, schedule your pumping sessions during existing break times so that you’re only missing the first or last 10-15 minutes of class.
- If your professor isn’t accommodating, you may need to provide a doctor’s note. And, if that still doesn’t help, try contacting your university’s counselor team for assistance.
- Find a comfortable space to pump. Some schools provide lactation rooms for students. Check with your university health center or women’s center to see if you school has these spaces.
- If your school doesn’t provide student lactation rooms, you may be able to use university employee pump rooms. All employers – including universities and colleges – are required to provide employees with a private place to pump that is not a bathroom. And, some schools are open to letting breastfeeding students use these rooms as well. Try asking the human resources department at your school.
- Be prepared. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, make sure you bring a cooler with ice packs. And, since you’re on the go, it’s helpful to have Quick Clean wipes so you don’t have to worry about finding a sink to wash out your supplies.
Are you a breastfeeding student? What tips do you have for pumping at school? Share in the comments below.