Supporting nursing mothers

By Megan Bradshaw on December 5, 2017

Towson University is the only Maryland educational institution lauded by MD Breastfeeding Coalition

The nursing mothers' room in the Administration Building has a comfortable chair, outlets, a table and easy access to the restrooms.
The nursing mothers' room in the Administration Building has a comfortable chair, outlets, a table and easy access to the restrooms.

Towson University was named among the top 15 friendliest workplaces for nursing mothers by the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition during an awards ceremony in mid-November. TU received a silver award for its efforts to support new mothers who have returned to work.

The university was the only educational institution honored with a 2017 award.

Towson University's main campus has eight dedicated lactation rooms—private, secure rooms with comfortable seating, electrical outlets, tables, coat racks and clocks. TU in Northeast Maryland also offers a lactation room with similar amenities. The rooms are right next to public restrooms for ease of use and open to all TU students, faculty, staff and spouses/domestic partners. 

The sign for the nursing mothers' room
The nursing mothers' room is clearly identified on the first floor of the Administration Building.

TU also offers free breastfeeding information for employees, a parental leave policy, literature and resources available in Cook Library, and an on-site childcare center. 

Before returning from maternity leave, TU Information Architect Ashley Arnold had questions and worries about how she would continue to breastfeed her son after coming back to work. She contacted the Office of Human Resources, who she called very helpful in explaining how the process of using the lactation room in the Administration Building worked.

“The discretion of just being able to show up according to the informal schedule on the back of the door and the general availability of the room has been such a stress reliever,” Arnold said. “They’ve really tried to make it comfortable and accommodating to what a mom needs to pump.” 

Fifty-three percent of United States workplaces with 100 employees or more (like TU) have some kind of space for nursing mothers. Supporting breastfeeding in the workplace can lower healthcare costs, reduce absenteeism and increase employee retention. One study found that healthcare costs for newborns are three times lower for babies whose mothers have lactation support in the workplace. 

Workplaces that offer breastfeeding support retain an average of 94 percent of employees who have gone on maternity leave, while the national average for new mother retention is 59 percent. 

Workplaces were judged based on their size and the Support, Time, Education and Place (STEPS) projected to employees.

The DC Breastfeeding Coalition (DCBFC) and the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition (MBC) are nonprofit organizations that unite breastfeeding advocates, health care providers, and families. They provide a forum for the development and exchange of resources and foster the establishment of breastfeeding as the normal way to nurture infants.