Faculty Center Lactation Room Adds to Campus Options for Nursing Moms

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Privacy and dedicated refrigerated storage space are among the concerns when it comes to a nursing mother returning to the workplace from maternity leave.

In years past, nursing mothers who did not have access to an enclosed office faced the daily struggle of locating a private, clean space to express breast milk without interruption. However, nursing mothers now have new options at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi as the institution recently opened its third lactation room. The newest addition is located on the second floor of the Faculty Center and is open to students, faculty, and staff.

Pumping breast milk is difficult work, said Dr. Lisa Comparini, Associate Professor of Psychology at the Island University.

“For some women, being too cold, worrying about interruptions while she is pumping, feeling pressed for time, etc. might impede milk flow, which partly depends on the release of oxytocin – a chemical that is released when a baby is nursing,” Comparini said. “In other words, pumping breast milk requires a clean, quiet, private, comfortable location where a mother can relax, express milk without interruptions or worries, wash/sterilize equipment used to pump, and store her baby’s milk.”

In the lactation room in Faculty Center, nursing mothers will find accommodations for up two visitors at a time. The room features two rocking chairs, a mini-fridge, a noise canceling machine, and a wall partition; it is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Formerly an empty faculty office, the lactation room in the Faculty Center is the brainchild of staff member Maricela Alexander, Executive Assistant to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), following conversations this past spring with Administrative Associate Katelyn Hoipkemier, who was preparing for the birth of her son, Oso, in August, and whose office is located in the Faculty Center.

“It wasn’t very convenient for me to walk across campus each time I needed to use a lactation room, so it was literally me saying, ‘Mari, we’re going to have to figure something out when I get back from maternity leave,’” Hoipkemier said. “And she took the idea and ran it with it.”

Hoipkemier shared with Alexander details about the lactation room that was added for nursing mothers at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University where Hoipkemier worked for five years.   

“We saw the same need arise there. We had a lot of students, faculty, and staff in need of something like that, so our dean created a room in a similar way,” Hoipkemier said. “It’s an overlooked need, surprisingly, at many universities, from what I understand.”

Alexander said she pitched the idea this past summer to Dr. Susan Wolff Murphy, CLA Professor and Associate Dean. Dr. Mark Hartlaub, CLA Dean, and Dr. David Scott, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, both supported the plan, and Hartlaub brought the idea to Dr. Clarenda Phillips, Provost. CLA was then granted permission to move forward with a Space Modification Request. After the request was approved by the University Space Committee, Hartlaub and Alexander immediately began preparing the room for its new purpose.

Alexander said everyone who was involved with the transformation of the room was supportive of the project.

“I cannot think of any other institution that would have placed so much support behind this idea,” she said.


Additional Information

  • To make a reservation for the Faculty Center Lactation Room, email a requested time to FCLactationRoom@tamucc.edu
  • To donate supplies such as nursing pads, magazines, paper towels, blankets, pillows, a small area fan/heater, milk storage bags, bottled water, or storage bins/baskets to the project, email alexander@tamucc.edu.
  • To make a reservation at the University Health Center Lactation Room, call 361.825.2601.
  • No reservation is needed for the Tidal Hall Lactation Room, which is located on the first floor near the computer labs.