Friday, April 16, 2010

Florence Mubichi and Designated Lactation Rooms for New Moms

Portia Wu, Vice President of the National Partnership for Women and Families, sent me an email recently that began:
Can you believe it? Some employers think they can tell new moms who need to express milk to just use the bathroom!

We think not. And fortunately it’s a scenario that tens of thousands of new moms won’t have to face any longer.

The new health reform law includes an important provision that requires employers to provide covered workers reasonable break time to express milk for up to one year after a child’s birth. They must also provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public."

It’s about time. Studies show that breast-feeding can help lead to healthy outcomes for women and children, and save billions in health costs. But until now, many women have had to stop breast-feeding — or never even start — because they couldn’t pump milk in their workplaces.

We have Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) for getting this provision into federal law. It is already the law in Oklahoma (although I don't know the degree to which Oklahoma companies comply).

As a matter of fact, I learned today that the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing is going to relocate their designated area for new mothers to a new room which will be decorated with artwork from Kenya and dedicate it to my dear friend, Florence Mubichi, who recently lost her battle with ovarian cancer. Here is their memorial to Florence who was on the OU College of Nursing faculty while she was working on her PhD.

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