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UTRGV Provides Nursing Mother Suites in Support of Mother-Friendly Worksite State Health Initiative

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Lizette Leal, International Programs specialist in the UTRGV Office of Global Engagement, shown here with baby Mia, makes full use of the university’s Mother-Friendly Worksite suites. The program provides nursing mothers with specially designated rooms that allow staff, faculty or student moms a safe, clean, private place to breastfeed or pump breast milk. Leal says being able to pump onsite during a workday eases her stress, helps her bonding process with her 5-month-old daughter, and has substantial benefits for the baby. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)
Lizette Leal, International Programs Specialist in the UTRGV Office of Global Engagement, with her baby gather Mia Leal on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at the University Center building in Edinburg, Texas.
UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy

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By Amanda A. Taylor

Rio Grande Valley, Texas – UTRGV campuses support what the Department of State Health Services calls a Mother-Friendly Worksite by providing nursing mother suites, which allow working staff, faculty or student moms designated rooms to breastfeed or pump breast milk.

“The nursing mother suites are a part of UTRGV’s commitment to support working or student moms and one of their needs is for them to be able to take care of their kids,” said Carla Lopez, wellness coordinator in the university’s Human Resources department. “That’s why the university sets aside some spaces, to encourage the use of the nursing mother suites.”

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To have access to a designated room, mothers can register with HR, who will then issue them an electronic “Mommy Card” for access.

The form for registration can be found on the university website here, along with more information on the suites and health policies.

Scattered throughout the Brownsville, Harlingen and Edinburg campuses, the nursing mother suites provide all the essentials a nursing mother might need, such as a sink to clean the pump or bottle parts, a changing table, and a quiet, discreet place.

“Having a designated place for mothers to either nurse or breastfeed their babies is important. You don’t find that in many places,” said Lizette Leal, International Programs specialist within the UTRGV International Programs and Partnerships department. “It really emphasizes the support that is available to all students, staff and faculty.”

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Leal said being able to pump onsite at the Edinburg Campus eases her stress and helps her bonding process with her 5-month-old daughter, Mia. It also has benefits for the baby.

“She is really healthy, as you can see,” Leal said, laughing. “Weight wise, she’s on-par and it’s not just the health benefits, but our bonding that’s important. I wasn’t able to breastfeed directly, but being able to pump and feed her that way is beneficial to both of us.”

For Katherine Christofferson, assistant professor of Applied Linguistics, starting a new job as a breastfeeding mother was a bit stressful until she discovered how supportive the university was.

“I started my fall semester when Fitz was about 2 months old, so it was really helpful for me to be able to reach my goals with nursing him,” she said. “The fact that you can pump here, and also have a space where you can clean and sanitize, was really important for both of us.”

For more information on nursing mother suites, visit www.utrgv.edu/hr/wellness

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