All Dane County buildings may soon be required to have a designated lactation room within the building to cater to nursing mothers.
If the Dane County Board passes a proposed resolution, it would require a private space with a locked door, lighting, a chair, an electrical outlet and ventilation in every county building. The rooms would also need to be advertised to the public as a place for nursing.
Dane County Board Supervisor Leland Pan, District 5, highlighted the importance of having an accessible, private space for mothers to use. Knowing there is a private lactation room in county buildings could also encourage higher attendance during county board meetings, Pan said.
“Though breastfeeding in public is legal, there is a stigma attached to women who do so during work or in public,” Pan said. “Sometimes women don’t want to expose themselves like that.”
The proposal’s author, Dane County Board Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, District 2, is not alone in her belief women deserve a private, comfortable space to pump or breastfeed in all buildings owned and operated by the county. Twenty-eight of the 37 supervisors have signed on as sponsors to bring the resolution to fruition.
The resolution unanimously passed the Public Works and Transportation Committee Sept. 23 and could go before the Personnel and Finance committee Oct. 13. A full board vote would then be decided Oct. 23.
Jen Dittrich-Templin, parent resource specialist at the University of Wisconsin Office of Child Care and Family Resources, said she approves of the resolution and reflected on her own personal experiences with breastfeeding in public.
“When I was pumping, there were times when I would have to sit in my car or in front of a store,” Dittrich-Templin said. “You do what you have to do. It would be way more comfortable and it would encourage more mothers to breastfeed if there were safe, clean areas around the city.”
The resolution is not expected to cost a substantial amount of money due to the requirements of the proposal, Pan said.
“I don’t expect it to cost a significant amount because we wouldn’t be creating new space; we’d be finding a new space in existing buildings,” Pan said.
As to why policies have not been enacted before now, Dittrich-Templin offered insight into the present push for breastfeeding initiatives and the availability of private lactation rooms.
“I think there’s been a bigger push from the medical field,” she said. “They’re realizing kids who were breastfed have less health problems later and if you start from birth by giving these children healthy milk, they’ll have less health issues later.”
In response to National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August, Pan explained how the resolution “is a continuing trend of us committing to providing support for women who are breastfeeding.”