NIC to open new lactation room
For most, motherhood is a source of joy.
For 22-year old Stephanie Gutterud, it can also be a source of unexpected stress.
While the Post Falls resident juggles her psychology major and four month old daughter, she must also deal with the challenge of having chosen to breastfeed her child.
“The biggest thing is the awkward stares you get from people, they tend to give you looks, like you’re doing something dirty,” Gutterud said. “I think that people tend to assume that you’re just going to have to feed your baby formula to make others comfortable.”
Gutterud, who said she’s often forced to trek out to her car during the school day to feed her baby, is just one of many students and NIC employees
currently without a private place to breastfeed or pump milk.
All that will change in January, however, when NIC unveils The Mothers’ Nook lactation room in Lee Kildow.
“There was a need,” said Tami Haft, director of admissions. “There’s never been a space that would accommodate employees or students on campus before.”
While there are no specific statistics on how many mothers with young children currently attend NIC, Lynn Covey, executive assistant to the vice president of Student Services, said the campus’ Children’s Center annually enrolls between 58 to 62 children from newborn to 5 years old each year.
“I don’t think there is a large need, but there still is a need. We’ve just never really taken the time to look at it.” Haft said.
Haft said the discussion began after she noticed more expecting mothers on campus once the semester started.
She said during the same time the staff was struggling to accommodate a co-worker with a nursing baby. While trying to meet the needs of the employee, it was decided that the room should be a permanent expansion to the campus.
Vice President for Student Services Graydon Stanley said the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for planning the room.
“It was one of those moments where everything came together at the perfect time,” Stanley said. “All parties that had to do something to make this happen were exactly on the same page.”
Haft said to have the room completed and ready to use at the start of the spring semester.
Stanley said over winter break the team will decorate the room to make it a more welcoming environment.
The logistics of how exactly the room can be scheduled by mothers also remains to be worked out, but Haft said the team is currently leaning toward having an open-use room with locks that display whether the room is occupied or vacant on the outside.
Gutterud said she looks forward to being able to use the room because she’ll no longer have to feel judged about her decision to breastfeed.
“I got really excited, because it means more people are coming around to understand that as mothers we like to feed our babies without [having to use] formula,” Gutterud said. “We aren’t feeding our babies to make others uncomfortable; we’re feeding them because we need to.”