FAYETTEVILLE -- Working with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Office of Community Health & Research, the Jones Center for Families, Arkansas Legal Aid, the Center for Nonprofits at the JTL Shop and the Springdale Library each recently installed new spaces for nursing mothers to comfortably breastfeed or pump breast milk, according to a UAMS news release.
"The creation of these lactation spaces is not only an important step for promoting maternal and infant health in Northwest Arkansas, but it also sends a powerful message of inclusivity, acknowledging that breastfeeding is an intrinsic part of nurturing a family," said UAMS nurse educator Lauren Pena.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide reasonable break time and accommodations for employees to express breast milk, the release states.
Under the law, bathrooms are not considered acceptable spaces to express milk.
In Arkansas, employers are required to provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to employees who need to express milk and are required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private, secure and sanitary room or location other than a bathroom for employees to express their milk, according to the release.
"By establishing these dedicated spaces and prominent signage, we ensure that breastfeeding families feel valued and empowered to nourish their children in a way they feel most comfortable, underscoring the idea that everyone deserves equal access to the resources and support they need to thrive," Pena added.
According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arkansas is ranked 45th among states and territories in the U.S. in percentage of infants who have ever breastfed, and only 24.4% of Arkansas infants were reported to have been breastfed exclusively at six months, as recommended by the CDC.