Nursing rooms provide mothers safe space

Mom's Room in Moody. Photo credit: Jason Pedreros | Multimedia Journalist

On Baylor’s grounds of 6,691,000 square feet, six buildings are specially designated for private breastfeeding. Baylor Human Resources also provides lactation accommodations for up to one year after the child’s birth.

Moody Memorial Library was the first building on campus to provide the service.

Rooms 2030 and 2080, labeled “New Mom Rooms” can be used by Baylor employees, students and spouses, as well as on-campus guests. Keys can be checked out at the circulation desk with a Baylor ID card without any time restriction.

There have been 449 checkouts for both rooms combined since they opened in January 2013, according to Beth Elene Farwell, director of central libraries special collections.

Tiffany Hogue, professor and lawyer, helped mobilize the project as the then-chief of staff. She said it was an easy project that was accomplished “relatively quickly without a lot of cost.”

Hogue has had two children during the 18 years she has worked at Baylor. She said she felt fortunate to have a private office for breastfeeding, because many of her colleagues did not.

Before the nursing room installments, parents without private offices often had to “make awkward decisions,” according to Hogue. She said her female colleagues shared struggles of dragging cords across hallways and locking bathroom stalls.

“There was a great deal of appreciation for those who needed those spaces, but didn’t have them,” Hogue said. “It was a way to pay it forward for those behind me.”

Hogue said studies show that employers who encourage and support their employees to nurse or pump their babies help workplace retention and satisfaction.

“Baylor cherishes families, so we want to make sure that we acknowledged them and helped in some way. It was a small way for us — giving up two little rooms — but it was big for them,” Farwell said.

The “backbone” to the creation of the nursing rooms was the work of the BU Women’s Colloquium, a faculty-composed group dedicated to advocate for issues related to gender, race, and other issues in academics.

The group was formed in reaction to a Baylor Lariat editorial published on Sept. 27, 2012 that criticized breastfeeding “in an environment that isn’t particularly conducive to it — classrooms, business meetings, professional appointments etc.”

Afterward, the Baylor Lariat thenreleased a survey asking how well Baylor supported nursing mothers. Less than two percent of responders said Baylor was doing a good job, 7.7 percent an average job, 12.8 percent a poor job and 13.7 percent a very poor job, while 61.5 percent did not know.Hogue said the article “got the ball rolling” for the creation of the nursing rooms.

The organization has also influenced Baylor’s Women’s and Gender Studies program and Women in the Academy mentorship program.

Formerly under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Baylor faculty were not fully covered, according to Hogue. There was difficulty in approving vacation hours or days for faculty, because they work on a semester calendar rather than a school-year calendar. Hogue drafted the parental leave policy and adoption assistance program enacted in April 2017.

“It was thrilling to be able to apply my law background to create tangible benefits for Baylor families,” Hogue said. “It’s probably the thing I’m most proud of accomplished in the time I’ve been here.”