1. Spatz, Diane L. PhD, RN-BC, FAAN

Article Content

Colleges and university campuses present a unique environment to meet the needs of breastfeeding women. On college or university campuses, there are several populations of breastfeeding mothers who may need access to lactation accommodations to breastfeed or express milk for their child. These four distinct groups of breastfeeding mothers are: 1) faculty, 2) staff, 3) students, and 4) campus visitors.


Faculty and staff may be employed either full-time or part-time. Personnel who are employed full-time and who receive an hourly pay rate are covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, mothers who are salaried employees are not protected under the ACA. Both full- and part-time student mothers may need to access lactation space on campus and they have no protection under the current federal law. Breastfeeding mothers who are visiting campuses would need to be able to access publicly available lactation spaces.


In our 2016 study examining 139 colleges and universities across the United States, we found that a mere 3.6% (n = 5) had an official policy for lactating students or had the lactation spaces mentioned in the student handbook (Bostick, Albrecht, Baghdadi, Haley, & Spatz, 2016). Half of colleges and universities (55%; n = 76) had designated lactation spaces accessible to their students (Bostick et al.). We issued a call to action for increased awareness and creation of specific policies to protect the rights of student breastfeeding mothers (Albrecht, Wang, & Spatz, 2017).


To further examine issues of lactation spaces, I recently partnered with the Society for College and University Planners (SCUP) to examine the role of administrators and facilities personnel in development of lactation accommodations on campuses. On most campuses, between two and six different campus entities are involved in planning of their lactation spaces (Henry-Moss, Benton, Lee, & Spatz, in press). Although universities and colleges had some awareness of the needs of breastfeeding mothers on campus, few campuses had exemplary accommodations and most survey respondents reported that they were in the expansion phase of their initiatives (Henry-Moss et al.). Based on this research, SCUP has developed comprehensive resources for universities and college leadership to use to improve lactation spaces on campuses to serve the needs of faculty, staff, students, and visitors. The SCUP Website has a summary of the research findings as well as several infographics that can be downloaded (SCUP, n.d.).


To improve the rates of breastfeeding exclusivity and duration in the United States, it is imperative to find solutions to help women reach their personal breastfeeding goals. Expanding lactation spaces and policies on university and college campuses will improve the breastfeeding experiences of women. As healthcare professionals we can advocate to universities or colleges that we have been or currently are affiliated with to address the need for lactation accommodations on campus.




Albrecht S. A., Wang J., Spatz D. (2017). A call to action to address barriers to breastfeeding and lactation faced by student-mothers. Nursing for Women's Health, 21(6), 431-437. doi:10.1016/j.nwh.2017.10.006 [Context Link]


Bostick M. W., Albrecht S. A., Baghdadi N., Haley C., Spatz D. L. (2016). Do American colleges and universities support the lactation needs of students? Breastfeeding Medicine, 11, 376-379. doi:10.1089/bfm.2016.0022 [Context Link]


Henry-Moss D., Benton K., Lee J., Spatz D. L. (in press). An exploration of lactation facilities and planning on US higher education campuses. Breastfeeding Medicine.


The Society for College and University Planners. (n.d.). An exploration of lactation policy and lactation facilities across US higher education campuses (Wellness Rooms). Retrieved from Accessed November 4, 2018.