Pumping As A Student: Making It Work

We give SO much credit to moms who commit to bettering their education while breastfeeding their babies. Here's some tips to make it easier.

News flash: sometimes moms are also students! We give SO much credit to moms who take on the challenge of bettering their education while breastfeeding their babies. And we recognize that breastfeeding can become more challenging when it’s time to head back to school.

That’s why we’ve outlined tips to make it easier for student moms – from knowing what your rights are when it comes to pumping at school, to making it work in practice.

 

Know Your Rights

Although many universities and colleges don’t have formal policies relating to breastfeeding, you still have rights under various state laws, as well as the Title IX protections if you attend a public institution.

  • If your schedule is packed and you can’t fit a pumping session in between classes, your absence from class should be excused. Some schools may require a doctor’s note explaining why it’s medically necessary for you to pump.
  • The Department of Education encourages schools to provide breastfeeding students with a room for pumping and some states even require schools to provide reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding students. See these requirements by state at the National Conference for Legislators website. If you find your ability to meet the needs of your classes is hindered due to lack of a pumping space, find out what your rights are based on the state you reside in and contact your school's administration to find out what can be done.

All 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. So, if you’re a student at the university and you’re comfortable nursing or pumping in public, go for it! Just remember to double-check any state laws or university policies as well.

Making It Work

So now that you know your rights, what’s the best way to fit pumping into your daily schedule?

  • Talk to your professors if you need to be excused from a portion of class. Many instructors will be understanding, especially if you’re consistently putting in the work outside of class. Instead of leaving in the middle of class, schedule your pumping sessions during existing break times so that you’re only missing the first or last 10-15 minutes of class.
  • If your professor isn’t accommodating, you may need to provide a doctor’s note. And, if that still doesn’t help, try contacting your university’s counseling team or a student advisor for assistance.
  • Find a comfortable space to pump. Some schools provide lactation rooms for students. Check with your university health center or women’s center to see if you school has these spaces.
  • If your school doesn’t provide student lactation rooms, you may be able to use university employee pump rooms. All employers – including universities and colleges – are required to provide employees with a private place to pump that is not a bathroom. Some schools may be open to letting breastfeeding students use these rooms as well. Try asking the human resources department at your school.

Be prepared. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, make sure you bring a cooler with ice packs. And, since you’re on the go, it’s helpful to have Quick Clean wipes so you don’t have to worry about finding a sink to wash out your supplies.