Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Title

Exploring the Rights of Breastfeeding Students on Campus: A qualitative analysis of support for student lactation within higher education

Poster Number

94

Document Type

Poster

Status

Graduate Student - Doctoral

Abstract Category

Prevention and Community Health

Keywords

Breastfeeding; Lactation; Affordable Care Act (ACA); Students; Womens Health

Publication Date

4-2017

Abstract

Background: All women have a right to meet their breastfeeding goals, which ultimately impact their health and the health of their children. For female students who are also new mothers, the lack of lactation accommodations within the academic environment is a barrier to both breastfeeding continuation and academic degree completion, and consequently hinders efforts to promote women’s educational attainment. Title IX provisions, which provide pregnancy discrimination protections for female students, do not specifically outline lactation support accommodations, increasing the need for supportive policies on campus. While provisions within the Affordable Care Act on workplace lactation have lead to an increase in female employee based lactation support programs (LSPs) within universities, little is known about how these programs support university students. The aim of this study is to describe how lactation accommodations for female students are conceptualized and integrated within the provisions of university based LSPs and policies.

Methods: First, a content analysis of 55 university LSP practice documents and 31 policies identified within a sample of 88 universities within a large study on university lactation support was employed to determine the degree to which students were present and assimilated within these services. Five universities were then selected to serve as case studies for student lactation support, and a constant comparative analysis of documents and interviews collected from these cases was utilized to determine how students were perceived within university LSPs.

Results: About 1/3 of lactation policies included students as beneficiaries of lactation space and none provided for lactation breaks for students. Universities view students as interdependent beneficiaries of campus lactation services along with employees, as a function of clear student need and advocacy for lactation support. The provision of lactation services is perceived to support student retention and recruitment, and enhance efforts towards creating a campus that is both inclusive and supportive of healthy norms. The lack of lactation policies related to female students was seen as a barrier to meeting their specific needs, and the inclusion of student provisions within lactation policies can also insure that students are aware of available services Implications: Understanding how students are conceptualized and integrated within university lactation accommodations will inform the development of campus lactation guidelines that call for the inclusion of students within current and future services and policies. Such efforts aim to support female college students who are parents, and improve women’s access to postsecondary education.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access

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Poster to be presented at GW Annual Research Days 2017.

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Exploring the Rights of Breastfeeding Students on Campus: A qualitative analysis of support for student lactation within higher education

Background: All women have a right to meet their breastfeeding goals, which ultimately impact their health and the health of their children. For female students who are also new mothers, the lack of lactation accommodations within the academic environment is a barrier to both breastfeeding continuation and academic degree completion, and consequently hinders efforts to promote women’s educational attainment. Title IX provisions, which provide pregnancy discrimination protections for female students, do not specifically outline lactation support accommodations, increasing the need for supportive policies on campus. While provisions within the Affordable Care Act on workplace lactation have lead to an increase in female employee based lactation support programs (LSPs) within universities, little is known about how these programs support university students. The aim of this study is to describe how lactation accommodations for female students are conceptualized and integrated within the provisions of university based LSPs and policies.

Methods: First, a content analysis of 55 university LSP practice documents and 31 policies identified within a sample of 88 universities within a large study on university lactation support was employed to determine the degree to which students were present and assimilated within these services. Five universities were then selected to serve as case studies for student lactation support, and a constant comparative analysis of documents and interviews collected from these cases was utilized to determine how students were perceived within university LSPs.

Results: About 1/3 of lactation policies included students as beneficiaries of lactation space and none provided for lactation breaks for students. Universities view students as interdependent beneficiaries of campus lactation services along with employees, as a function of clear student need and advocacy for lactation support. The provision of lactation services is perceived to support student retention and recruitment, and enhance efforts towards creating a campus that is both inclusive and supportive of healthy norms. The lack of lactation policies related to female students was seen as a barrier to meeting their specific needs, and the inclusion of student provisions within lactation policies can also insure that students are aware of available services Implications: Understanding how students are conceptualized and integrated within university lactation accommodations will inform the development of campus lactation guidelines that call for the inclusion of students within current and future services and policies. Such efforts aim to support female college students who are parents, and improve women’s access to postsecondary education.