Wichita State University has received the Gold Level Employer Supporting Breastfeeding award and is now designated as a Breastfeeding Welcome Here campus by the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition.
These new designations come just in time for August’s National Breastfeeding Month. They acknowledge WSU’s efforts to incorporate lactation support into the university’s culture and establishes WSU as an employer concerned about the health and well-being of the campus community. WSU provides a supportive environment for faculty, staff and students to reach their breastfeeding goals by providing private locations and flexible time to pump and have a written policy to support lactating people.
These designations contributed to the City of Wichita being recognized as a Community Supporting Breastfeeding PLUS (CSB PLUS) from the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. Wichita City Council Commissioner Becky Tuttle and Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple recognized the achievement in a proclamation reading on Aug. 15.
The Community Supporting Breastfeeding (CSB) designation recognizes communities that support breastfeeding families where they live, work and play, using existing breastfeeding programs to improve rates of exclusive breastfeeding for infants at six months of age. The CSB PLUS designation expands upon this foundation to include addressing diversity and new systems of support including physician offices; emergency preparedness; city and/or county governments; faith-based organizations; schools, colleges and universities; correctional facilities, food pantries; doulas; and local health departments.
Associate Educator, Wichita State University
Advancing lactation support
Jolynn Dowling, WSU associate educator and Janice M. Riordan Distinguished Professor in Maternal Child Health, has been instrumental in advancing lactation support on campus. Her work with the Wichita Area Breastfeeding Coalition and Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition helped Wichita earn the Community Supporting Breastfeeding designation in 2016. She started a project to enhance campus lactation amenities and update location information in 2018. The project stalled with the COVID-19 pandemic but gained back its momentum and was completed this summer with the support of the Office of the Provost, collaboration with Vicki Whisenhant and HR partners, and CTAC. Cara Gerhardt, chair of the Wichita Area Breastfeeding Coalition and adjunct faculty in the School of Nursing, helped by partnering with Dowling to secure a small grant through the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. This collaboration across sectors was key to the success of this project.
Dowling also teaches the Lactation Anatomy and Physiology Badge course at WSU that focuses on the anatomy of the breast and the biological components of human milk that make it the best nutrition for infants.
With over 90% of people initiating breastfeeding in Sedgwick County, reducing barriers in public and in the workplace is essential for families to meet their infant feeding goals.
“Creating a breastfeeding-friendly campus is a vital step towards promoting public health and fostering an inclusive environment that supports lactating people,” said Dowling. “This designation truly highlights WSU’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Private, comfortable places to accommodate lactation needs of employees, students and campus visitors are available on the WSU main campus and satellite locations.
Visit wichita.edu/lactation to learn more.
About Wichita State University
Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling almost 22,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.
Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.
The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.