Meet Annette Parke: PINspirational Lactation Space Starter

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Meet Annette Parke: PINspirational Lactation Space Starter

We are hosting our very first Pinterest Contest with over $1000 in prizes!  And, we’re asking you: what’s your ideal pumping space?  For some milkmakers mamas, its a question they’ve already asked and answered. Real mom, Annette Parke, needed a space to pump after returning to her workplace: a hospital.  But, she didn’t stop there and we think you’ll find her story inspirational.  We do

We interviewed Annette about her experience and she is one amazing mamaRead on to find out more about the steps Annette took to support all breastfeeding mamas at her hospital.
Tell us a little bit about your experience with starting a lactation room at your office?
 I work at a hospital. I never realized we didn’t have a lactation room until I came back from maternity leave. When I returned I was able to pump in my office since the door locked. I shared an office with the assistant director of our department. She was very rarely there so it worked perfectly. Until she started to come in more. I then began the search for a clean room to pump in. I could use the NICU lounge, however I felt that should be saved for NICU parents. And I wondered, where were NICU mamas pumping? I was still on the hunt for a clean room. I was told I could use a patient room in our women’s center. NO LOCK! I was forced to sit in a physician sleep room which had no lock and was often being used or had been used and not clean. I’d sit with my feet pushed up against the door for privacy.

What inspired you to do so? The fact that nursing/pumping mamas did not have a clean area to pump in or nurse in if we wanted. It wasn’t just for me. I knew of other moms who were desperately trying to locate a room to use.

Who did you talk to? What resources were necessary?  I submitted the “idea” of a lactation room to our corporate office. No resources were necessary. I submitted my idea, within a week I was contacted to help set up the room.

Did you experience any push back, challenges, or setbacks along the way? Yes, the room that our administration team designated as the lactation room was a closed associates lounge. No one was to be using it. However, it was found that associates were using the room for breaks, the bathroom and a lunch room. One of the staff members, who ironically had nursed her twins did not like the fact that the room was being utilized as something other than what she intended to use it for. She was upset that she had to use the staff cafeteria, the public restroom. The door to this room was only able to be opened with the swipe of a badge. She had access to the room and walked in whenever she wanted. She created quite a problem. Once she found it necessary to go shouting to her boss and our administration team about the fact that she had to use a different bathroom. One that was located 5 feet from her office. She frequently spoke to me in a rude tone. I prayed everyday that no other mother was having to deal with her. I let her know this is a topic I take very seriously and would be willing to lose my job over it. I would not back down and let her know that she was wrong in every aspect. I went to HR where they took this issue very seriously and reprimanded her. A keyed lock was then placed on the inside of the room. Now, only mothers who were using the room for pumping or nursing have a key (along with security and administration just in case) Once in the room we hang a sign asking for privacy, lock the door and are free from interruptions.

What recommendations do you have for other moms in your situation? Speak up, if you do not have a room, ask for one. Know the law before you approach anyone regarding a lactation room. Be confident. Know your rights and do not back down.

What still needs to be done (in your workspace? locally? and nationally to provide more support to working mothers when they breastfeed?) I’d love to see a nursing room set up in three areas of the hospital. One in the women’s center (DUH, I’m still floored we don’t have one) one on our pediatrics floor (again DUH!!) and another located centrally for visiting mothers. Locally, I’d love for other hospitals and business to offer an area for women to nurse or pump privately. And federally, I do not agree with the minimum number of employees needed in order for employers to provide a specific room for pumping/nursing. I feel the law needs to be adjusted in that sense. There are smaller businesses with nursing mothers who deserve the privacy to pump or nurse.   It’s all about education, support and determination.

What would you tell other women who want to start a lactation room at their offices?

GO FOR IT!! You have nothing to lose. You could be the person who educates the many who know absolutely nothing about nursing, pumping or the laws protecting us. I speak about breast feeding every chance I get. Since I have pushed for this room, we as a hospital are now taking steps to become a certified breastfeeding friendly hospital! YAY!!!