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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘It’s really fantastic’: Wichita State recognized as a breastfeeding-friendly campus

The+Ulrich+Museum+of+Arts+lactation+room+for+breastfeeding+parents.
Jocelynn Cavender
The Ulrich Museum of Art’s lactation room for breastfeeding parents.

Being a parent and a student can be a lot to juggle, especially when you have a newborn that is breastfeeding. Many people who breastfeed their infants feel like they don’t have the time or space to do so. 

Jolynn Dowling, associate educator in nursing, has helped change that for Wichita State, helping to make the university a breastfeeding-friendly campus. 

According to Dowling, WSU was awarded a gold-level Employer Supporting Breastfeeding as well as a Breastfeeding Welcome Here Campus title through the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. 

“What that means for those of us here on campus is that they have employee policies in place to support lactating people,” Dowling said. “They have parenting and pregnant student policies, and they have facilities. They have wellness rooms that are spread throughout the campus for people to go to have a private space to be able to feed their infant or to express their breastmilk.”

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Dowling said that all of those key components, as well as leader training, make Wichita State a breastfeeding-friendly campus. 

“The leaders (here) are familiar with federal legislation that informed these policies,” Dowling said. 

Dowling explained that the university policies were updated to fit two new legislative acts that were passed over the summer, including the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections act, requiring employers to allow breaks for employees to express breastmilk for their nursing child. 

The other legislative act passed this year was the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, requiring covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. 

“Both of those together were new legislation that went into place in June,” Dowling said. “All of those policies were updated to reflect those changes.”

Dowling has been passionate about this project since starting her position as the Janice M. Riordan Distinguished Professorship in Maternal Child Health as an associate educator. She wanted to make sure that the spaces were known and accessible to all people on campus. 

“I started that project in 2018, really kind of assessing our spaces, seeing what they look like, what they have and what kind of amenities were provided in that space,” Dowling said. “So I wanted to make sure everything was updated, and that the amenities really were commensurate with a person who needed to use the space needed.”

Dowling explained that the spaces were made to be comfortable for those who needed to use the space provided, including comfortable chairs. She also explained that the rooms were private and free from intrusion. 

“People can come to our campus community (and) won’t have any barrier to meet their infant feeding goals,” Dowling said. “We’re very supportive of that.”

Dowling explained that compared to most public spaces, Wichita State campus has fewer barriers when it comes to those who are breastfeeding. 

“It’s really fantastic,” Dowling said. “In Wichita, people who deliver babies at our hospitals, over 90% of them initiate breastfeeding and the biggest barrier and why people do not continue to breastfeed, most often the biggest issue is they do not have employer support or they do not have public support.”

Dowling also said that Kansas has a statute where mothers have the right to breastfeed in any public or private location. 

“If you see someone breastfeeding their infant on campus, that is perfectly fine,” Dowling said. “We should welcome that.” 

Dowling, an international board certified lactation consultant, explained that there are several health benefits to breastfeeding for both the infant and the mother.

“The maternal health benefits are protection for cardiovascular disease, as well as gynecological cancers like ovarian cancer and breast cancer. There’s also protection against diabetes,” Dowling said. “The longer the person breastfeeds, the better the benefits.” 

A few of the places that you can find wellness rooms on campus include Charles Koch Arena, Jardine Hall, Woolsey Hall, John Bardo Center, Ahlberg Hall, Lindquist Hall and Corbin Education Center. 

All lactation and wellness rooms can be found on the CTAC website.

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About the Contributors
Jacinda Hall
Jacinda Hall, Reporter
Jacinda Hall is a reporter for The Sunflower. Hall is a senior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Hall hopes to pursue a career in writing, editing or teaching journalism at the high school level after graduation. Hall uses she/her pronouns.
Jocelynn Cavender
Jocelynn Cavender, Former photographer
Jocelynn Cavender was a first-year photographer for The Sunflower. Cavender has a pet hamster named Beans. Cavender uses she/her pronouns.

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