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OSU wins award by becoming breastfeeding friendly

Mothers returning to Ohio State will now have one less thing to worry about when it comes to caring for their newborns.

OSU has developed a lactation program that offers private rooms for nursing mothers, upon returning from maternity leave, to help maintain their breastfeeding schedule.

“These rooms increase the chances of breastfeeding once the mothers return to work,” said Jessica Rolfes, an intern at the neonatal intensive care unit at University Hospital.

With locations across the university and medical centers, OSU has landed a spot on the 2011 Breastfeeding Friendly Employer Award Winning List.

Rooms offer a mini-fridge for storage, a hospital-grade breast pump, a comfortable chair with reading materials and low-light settings for a calm, quiet experience.

Mother of five and human resource information manager Christina Alutto said she has used different lactation rooms around campus.

“Because OSU committed to providing appropriate pumping space I was able to successfully nurse my son well past one year,” Alutto said in an email.

According to lactation consultants, breastfeeding offers multiple benefits to babies and mothers.

“Nutrition is important,” said Ashley Brophy, a nurse intern at University Hospital’s NICU “The skin-to-skin contact because it soothes and forms a bond.”

“Especially for the NICU babies and parents, it offers a chance to relax in a private, quiet room.” said Kaylan Clevinger, a fellow University Hospital NICU nurse intern.

Katie Purcell, the head of the lactation program, said program will potentially continue to expand.

“The future is to continue establishing these spaces across campus so that no mother who chooses to continue feeding her baby in this way after returning to work has to walk more than five minutes in order to get to a safe, secure, appropriate space to pump breast milk,” Purcell said.

Increasing lactation spaces around campus decreases the absenteeism rates of working mothers as breastfeeding results in healthier babies. Adding more lactation spaces supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that mothers breastfeed for at least 12 months to maximize benefits.

“OSU deserves to be called breastfeeding friendly,” Alutto said in an email. “I know people who work elsewhere and still have to pump in a bathroom stall or their car, how backwards is that?”

OSU is building a reputation for keeping faculty and staff happy and healthy.

“I think it’s a way for OSU to retain talented faculty and staff because it offers them the option to continue doing something that is really important to them, breastfeeding their baby after they return to work,” Purcell said. “It’s a program that really supports faculty, staff, visitors, students and

their families.”

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