Clarksville, TN – The small, beige-colored room on the bottom floor of the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Morgan University Center might be the most relaxing space on campus. A lamp, next to the padded chair, provides a soft, comforting light, and a noise machine blocks out the hustle of student life beyond the closed doors.
This room, renovated earlier this summer, is Austin Peay State University’s newest lactation space for nursing mothers, and it represents the University’s new commitment to providing students, faculty, and staff with a suitable place to breastfeed or pump.
“A chill environment is one of the things they recommend in a lactation space,” Ashley N. Kautz, coordinator of the APSU Adult, Nontraditional & Transfer Student (ANTS) Center, said. “In here, they have a place to put their feet up. They can leave a picture of their child if they want. We have a refrigerator for them to store their milk.”
A few years ago, the University’s Student Government Association created Austin Peay State University’s first official lactation room on the second floor of the Woodward Library. While this was a step in the right direction, Kautz argued that more spaces were needed across campus. She cited a 2016 University of Pennsylvania study that found “on average, universities had .39 lactation spaces per 1,000 students.”
“Using this average, APSU should have four lactation spaces,” she said. “In our previous space, students were using my office, but some didn’t want to. There was definitely a need for it.”
Earlier this summer, Austin Peay State University’s ANTS Center moved into a larger space on the first floor of the Morgan University Center. Kautz immediately renovated one of the center’s storage rooms into a new lactation room.
“What’s even better about this location is we have card access outside and cameras in here, so students, faculty or staff will have card access to come back if they forgot their milk after hours,” she said. “We also have supplies that have been donated – we have milk bags, nipple cream, nursing pads, nursing covers. They can grab stuff if they need it.”
During the summer, the University also placed lactation pods in the Sundquist Science Building and the Music/Mass Communication Building. These rounded spaces, which bring the University’s total lactation spaces to four, offer a comfortable, private place for nursing mothers near their classrooms.
“If someone isn’t able to walk here – if they’re in labs or have lots of classes back-to-back, they won’t have to come all the way here and then back to their class,” Kautz said.
For information on APSU’s lactation spaces, visit https://www.apsu.edu/equity-access/lactation-space.php.