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Davis, California

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Editorial: Breastfeeding pumps

By June of next year, faculty and students who are new mothers will have to go somewhere else to use a breast pump.

New mothers and mothers-to-be on campus rely on services from the campus’ breastfeeding support program like the support group, lactation specialist and breast pumps. In June, however, the lactation specialist and hospital-quality breast pumps will disappear due to budget cuts.

The program’s operating budget totals $12,000, most of which pays for the specialist’s salary, and the rest of which is operating expenses. If the $9,300 salary for the specialist is removed, the $2,600 to maintain the pumps and facilities should stay.

Campus custodians already maintain the facilities. Although the lactation specialist and an intern maintain the pumps, someone else can be found to fill this role for a smaller price.

This portion of the budget is extremely insignificant compared to the budget as a whole. Cutting $5,000 here and $10,000 there does not make a difference. The university would have to make a countless number of these smaller cuts to amount to anything substantial.

Furthermore, this decision may turn away mothers-to-be and current new mothers from the campus. By not providing pumps, although the rooms will still be available, the campus is risking losing students and faculty. The university is required to provide new mothers a private place to breastfeed; there are 28 locations on campus. But having the convenience of on-campus pumps allows these individuals to continue their day without interruption or the added stress of leaving campus and returning to class or work.

For faculty and students, the need to use these services and facilities needs to be factored in with the demands of work and classes. Eliminating the pumps will make the daily routine for new mothers more difficult to manage while on campus. They may have to make special arrangements to leave campus or take time off.

Only one in 10 executive management positions is filled by a woman, according to a UC Davis Graduate of Management study. The duties of childbearing and motherhood certainly factor into an employer’s decision to retain or let go of a pregnant employee. Breastfeeding is a necessary part of raising a newborn. These duties need to be accommodated for.

Although mothers working at UC Davis reported in an earlier article they are happy with the campus’ policies, this small cut mirrors the problematic options female employees face across the nation when they become pregnant.

If campuses took more action to help faculty and students who are new mothers, more ease during the workday or class schedule would foster a more comfortable campus environment.

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