Mothers on Durham College’s (DC) Oshawa campus will no longer be stuck searching for a comfortable place to nurse their children.
Lyndsay Nowak is the mother of a four-month-old newborn baby boy. Until this week, Nowak used all-gender bathrooms on campus to feed her son.
She never had any issues using this method, until an incident took place between herself and a cleaning employee, who asked her to not use an all-gender washroom.
Nowak said she contacted DC Cares about the incident and was redirected to a new space dedicated to breastfeeding parents, at Outreach Services on the second floor in the Student Centre.
The centre told Nowak she was the first mother to use the space.
“The space is really good,” Nowak said. “The employees are really nice, they’re so friendly. It’s also a nice and cozy space, there’s a glider chair and a privacy screen. It is really comfort-focused.”
Nowak, a second-year student in the cosmetic techniques and management program, said the space is a necessary addition to the campus, but the school can still do more.
“This room is definitely a step in the right direction, but they need to make it known that this whole campus is breastfeeding-friendly,” she said.
Others also believe the new space is a good addition to the DC campus.
Jandy Beresford, the former chair of the Durham Region Breastfeeding Coalition, supports the college’s new space.
“In a large environment like a school, it’s important for breastfeeding parents to have a space where they can go to escape and relax, without worrying about other people or distractions for their child,” Beresford said.
“Often, new parents are returning to school with very young children, when breastfeeding is still a very new skill. Having a space where you don’t need to worry about feeling judged is a wonderful addition.”
While the new space is a positive step for DC, the college is not the first post-secondary school to add a room dedicated to nursing.
According to Miranda Massie, a health promotion specialist at the University of British Columbia (UBC), their campus has had a similar space since 2008 but is still working out some details.
“We started to realize that given the size of UBC, it’s very hard to have spaces that would be convenient for everyone,” Massie said in an email interview. “As a solution, we are now working with departments and units to encourage them to create their own spaces based on the needs of their staff, faculty and students.”
Nowak said the new room is going to make school experiences easier for her and other parents.
“I chose to come back to this school,” she said. “Some people think ‘how am I going to go back to school and still breastfeed?’ They’re going to look online, they’re going to see not many options are available, until now.”
Nowak is pleased to know with the new space other breastfeeding parents will not have to experience the questioning she received while trying to feed her child.
“I was fearful that another parent or myself would have to go through something like I went through on campus,” Nowak said. “It helps knowing I can go to that space, and that it’s a safe space where you can maintain your milk supply or just simply feed your child. It definitely makes things a lot easier.”