UH Hilo provides lactation room for new mothers

The lactation room, located at the Campus Center, is comfortable, quiet, and private.

By Kara Nelson.

Interior of the UH Hilo lactation room in Campus Center
UH Hilo has a cozy lactation room at the Campus Center–a locked, quiet, and comfortable room made especially for breastfeeding mothers.

Sign, white on blue: Lactation Room. With image of Mother and baby. Braille at bottom of sign.New mothers who work or attend classes at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will be happy to know about a lactation room located in the Campus Center. The room is private and secluded, designed especially for breastfeeding mothers who need this support when returning to work or studies on campus.

“The lactation room is relatively new,” says Claire Shigeoka, director of human resources at UH Hilo. “We started setting it up in the spring 2014 and announced the opening in July 2014. The lactation room at UH Hilo is comfortable, quiet, and private.”

Shigeoka says four to six mothers are expected to use the room each semester. She says having a convenient, comfortable room available only for this purpose could help improve employee and student performance and attendance.

Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision

The room has been provided in accordance with an amendment to Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act: the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision, which was added as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Under the amendment, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide a nursing mother with unpaid but reasonable break time to express breast milk for her child, from the infant’s birth to the baby’s first year of age.

The Breaktime for Nursing Mothers provision requires a room be provided for this purpose, and that it be a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.

Although the law does not state the room must be a dedicated space solely used for lactation purposes, UH Hilo has gone beyond the law and created a beautiful room specifically for this use only. Although the lactation room at UH Hilo is provided for employees, Shigeoka says students are invited to use it as well. In fact, more students have asked for use of the room than employees.

The mother must provide her own pump and supplies, but human resources has provided comfortably cushioned chairs, a table, and two privacy screens. Shigeoka says the room can be used for breastfeeding or expressing (pumping) milk.

Mothers are not allowed to have guests. However, according to Ellen Kusano, director of the Campus Center, if there are two requests for the room at the same time slot, the first mother would be asked if she would mind sharing the space. If she agrees, the second mother would be informed and then can decide to share the room at that time or schedule another time. Kusano says this situation is unlikely to occur, but it is possible since there is only one lactation room on campus. Because the room is kept locked, such an arrangement would need to be made in advance.

To reserve the lactation room

The Lactation Room is located in Campus Center, room #310 and is available on work days from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The room is kept locked and use of it must be prearranged. To make reservations for the room or check available time slots, contact the Campus Center office during work hours at 932-7365. At the arranged time, check in first at Campus Center, room #210.


Story by Kara Nelson, a senior at UH Hilo double majoring in English and communication. She is a writer for the Office of the Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories.