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College attempting to ban breastfeeding in class

post #1 of 144
Thread Starter 


I am hoping that you wise women can give me some advice about how to handle an upcoming situation.


Here is the background:

My DH and I are expecting in early April.  I have a 9 year old who I breastfed for years and I am very much looking forward to nursing again.  I went back to college for a second degree, and this semester is my final semester.  I will have about 6 weeks of school left when the baby comes.  It is not an option for me to put off school for a year (and honestly, I would have the same dilemma then).


The university does not have a breastfeeding policy.  They do have a pumping room near the parent's center, but there is nothing that I can find about breastfeeding in class.  My plan was to bring the baby with me and have help outside the classroom (my DH or mom) so that I could nurse but also be mindful of the disruption some people feel a baby is.


However, the class syllabus came out today and there is a new section that says :"Children & Pets:

Children and pets are not allowed in seminar, professional operations, simulation, and any testing sessions."  I have been in school for 4 years and read many syllabi and this has NEVER been said in one before.  I think it might be that there are several women having babies this term (6-8) and they are trying to stop people from bringing babies to class.


So, I checked my state law to see if that might help and it says: "A mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding."  It seems to me that if they are banning the baby then his law doesn't apply.


There is a complaints process within the university, and I am thinking about using it, but I want to give some thought first to what the best approach might be.  Any advice?  I was already worried about balancing the end of the semester with a new baby and being postpartum... I just don't know what to do now.  Just to add insult to injury... it is an all women's college and I am getting a healthcare degree :)





post #2 of 144

Ugh. I have no advice to offer other than, go for it! File a complaint and see where it goes, no harm in trying! It seems counterproductive at a woman's college getting a degree in the health care field to ban infants in class. I sure hope you are able to accomplish your goals while still seeing to your baby's needs. Good luck mama!

post #3 of 144

I'm not sure banning infants is class is a bad thing.  What if the baby starts crying? I think it would be a distraction to the other students.  I've not heard of other schools allowing kids in the classrooms with moms.  Can't you just pump, especially if its only for 6 weeks?  Also, is there a daycare facility at the school?  I know my school had one, perhaps baby can stay there while you're in class and you can feed the baby that way when needed.

post #4 of 144

I can understand the policy.  Infants, children and pets can serve as a distraction to the other students and the instructor.  I strongly support BF, EBF, public BF, etc. but would not have been happy in my last class if someone brought an infant into class which would have been distracting especially in what I am imagining from your post.  Do you mean DH or someone else would bring your baby to you during class?  That would be a distraction in itself!  


Can you excuse yourself from the classroom to BF in the hall?  Or pump?  I hope you find an easy resolution to this and that you are successful in class.  :)

post #5 of 144
Thread Starter 

Because the baby is coming in the middle of the semester (not the best timing... but the baby is already on his/her way), and the school also doesn't allow missing class for maternity leave.... I am not sure what I am supposed to do.  If my grades are going to suffer because I be given permission to make work up I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place.  I will have to go back as soon as possible, but I don't think it is good for a tiny baby (1-2 weeks old) to be away from me.


I guess I am surprised to hear that people think the baby would be a distraction.  Newborn sleep the majority of the time and are often otherwise breastfeeding.  I agree that it could be disruptive for my husband to have to be outside the class with the baby... but if I can't miss class and I can't have the baby with me I am not sure what else to do.  There is no day care and even if there was I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving such a young baby in one.  For successful breastfeeding and to build the best supply, early on-cue feeding is the best method and I just don't think I should have to sacrifice that.  I am ready to be mindful of other students and the class as a whole, I just think that my baby's health and a successful nursing relationship are life long issues to consider.

post #6 of 144

If your dh or mom is going to be out in the hall anyways, could they wait with the baby and then text you to come out and bf? That's probably how I would work it. I totally understand where you're coming from and not wanting to pump or leave your newborn infant. I would ask a support person to hang out with baby, put the phone on one vibe for txt, step out to bf, and come back in when you're done.


post #7 of 144

I'm sorry this is such a difficult situation for you SL.  I have no idea what I would do if I were in your situation.  Definitely not daycare with such a young baby.  Perhaps you can talk directly to your professor and work something out as long as it is not a distraction.  Can't hurt to ask!


What would be my concern is that yes newborns sleep most of the time but what happens when the baby gets hungry and cries until he/she latches on?  Or if the baby begins crying because she/he needs a diaper change?  That has the potential to majorly interrupt the class.  


Will this be a small class in a small room?  A large class in an auditorium?  Are there safety issues in the classroom?


post #8 of 144

Just had a thought, is there a way you could work ahead?  Or do some coursework form home after the baby is born?

post #9 of 144

Personally, I think the policy is reasonable. I don't think a college classroom is the appropriate place to have small infants. I don't think it is fair to the other students. I don't think the baby is going to like it. I can understand if you were incarcerated or something but it doesn't sound like you are. I don't really see this as being about breastfeeding at all.


I think this sounds like a difficult situation but I don't understand how you expect this to work. I don't want to be a downer but um, do you realistically expect to give birth and complete the semester?  I think your body and your baby need some time together without the stress of class. I think most people wouldn't have registered for class this semester, regardless of when they want to register.


Is this your first baby? A lot of people think infants "sleep all the time" and "nurse the rest of the time." But many don't. Many are high needs. Many cry for no reason. Many are irritated by lights/noise/people or stressed by the same. It isn't like they are a loaf of bread or a magazine picture. Many moms have struggles at the begining with their body and nursing. This is why even the state says that you need 6 weeks of physical recovery. I'd really urge you to consider taking a leave of absence or withdrawing with an agreed upon completion date for your classwork.


It is true that on demand nursing is the best way to establish breastfeeding. But don't you see, you are already sacrificing that. You can't learn to nurse an infant and an infant learn to nurse while you are also trying to do something else. Your body is going to hurt, your hormones are going to be unknown, you are simply putting a tremendous amount of pressure on yourself and baby.

post #10 of 144

Some newborns sleep all the time, and some don't.  And you don't know what you're going to get until the baby's here.  And a newborn who sleeps the whole first week may "wake up" the second.  And some newborns only sleep when being carried by a moving person.  Do you really think that you pacing up and down the back of the classroom shushing and humming won't be distracting? 


Not to mention: your plan is about being able to BF on demand... waking up and making noise is how babies tell you they're hungry.


I'm sorry, but the policy sounds reasonable to me.  I would be very annoyed if I was paying expensive college tuition and there were children hanging around the class.  You're probably just going to have to pump and hope that the baby's sleepy stretch is when you have class.  It's not ideal, but plenty of women do it.  Having someone bring the fussy baby into the middle of class so you can feed it really isn't going to work.


How long is class?  My college classes were mostly an hour, with a few that were an hour and a half.  If you feed right before class, it will probably be fine.

post #11 of 144

As an academic, I don't think a baby who fusses momentarily with a responsive mama who immediately starts nursing and/or whisks him/her out of the room is that much more distracting than a cell phone ringing, for example. Interruptions happen. The class doesn't lose all of its pedagogical value simply because there was a momentary disruption.


OP, you are definitely between a rock and a hard place since there are 6-8 of you. If you were the only student in this position, it would be much easier to talk to your profs and work something out. With so many, it's very difficult for them to make an exception for one person.


That said, I strongly suspect that the concern is less about having babies in class at all, and more about having babies in class without anyone to take them outside and away from the class. You may want to discuss your own personal plan, i.e., having a caregiver right outside in case you need to hand the baby off, and so on, and see if they are OK with that.


I also agree with others who suggest that in the worst case scenario, have your caregiver outside with the baby, and you go out when babe needs to nurse. And pumping and bottlefeeding for a few hours here and there may be a workable approach. Not ideal, but workable. How often and how long are your classes? That would be the deciding factor for me.


Good luck to you.

post #12 of 144

If you feel it is necessary to file a complaint then do so.


The options I could think of are:

Have baby outside of class with someone, and go outside the room to nurse when you are needed. Maybe get a baby monitor, or put your cell on vibrate so you know when you are needed.

Or just nurse in classroom and ignore the policy.

post #13 of 144

I had a baby mid-semester last year as well and took a little less than 2 weeks to get back to teaching and class, so I feel your stress. How long are your classes? Do you have them every day? Are there gaps in between.


For me, I had 2 classes, 2 days a week each that lasted 1.5 hours at a time. I also taught 2 classes in a row for a total of 4 hours once a week with a 10 minute gap between. I would pump between the 2 classes, or have my husband bring DS between if he was fussy. If it's only the 1 class for a couple days a week for an hour or so, I don't really see the harm in having someone outside text you in case. Just feed him/her before and after, he probably won't refuse.

post #14 of 144

Do you know this professor?  Is there a way you could appeal to them personally BEFORE baby arrives?  I cannot believe this is a womens' only college and you are getting a healthcare degree...i mean...thats over the top.  Your baby HAS to be with you.  Day care starts at 6 weeks, that is no option.  How long are these classes anyway?  I think a newborn in a sling would work just fine, have Mom or DH waiting outside IF baby gets unreasonably fussy or  - on that rare occasion - is wide awake and does NOT need to nurse. 

I used to leave class to grab a cigarette ....i would not worry about becoming a distraction to anyone!

If it turns out your prof is extremely anti-BF for whatever reason...you must file a grievance...there HAS to be a way for you to finish your degree....what if you broke your leg mid semester??

good luck and let us know how it turns out!!

post #15 of 144


Originally Posted by ~pi View Post

As an academic, I don't think a baby who fusses momentarily with a responsive mama who immediately starts nursing and/or whisks him/her out of the room is that much more distracting than a cell phone ringing, for example. Interruptions happen. The class doesn't lose all of its pedagogical value simply because there was a momentary disruption.


I've never taken a college or graduate level class where cell phones weren't strictly prohibited.  Are you suggesting that a cell phone call in the middle of class isn't distracting? 



Originally Posted by motherhendoula View Post

what if you broke your leg mid semester??



Then she would have to take a medical leave of absence and withdraw for the rest of the semester, if the broken leg meant that she couldn't continue with her classes.  Students have to do it all the time.

post #16 of 144

A classmate of mine had a baby in Feb of our last semester of grad school. We had classes one day a week, there were three of them, and they were 2.5 hours long. After two weeks off she brought the baby to school and her husband came with her. They camped out in the family room (right downstairs) and she spent as much time there as she could. She would nurse the baby and when she could, step away and go to class. After a few weeks she got a feel for the professors and their reactions, as well as the feel for the other students in the class. Sometimes if it was a light week (hey, it was our last semester after all), she would bring the baby into class while we were all working on some project and it was fine. She didn't nurse in class, ever, because she didn't want to push other students' comfort levels, and if the baby got upset she left the class.  She made it work somehow and finished all of her classes. 

I think your best bet is to expect to have the baby just outside the class. Talk with your professors and see how much you can miss, what you can make up, etc.. It's likely you'll be floating in and out of attention and real presence in class when you return. I hope that these are filler classes and not something completely essential! 


Good luck. It'll be hard, but it can be done.

post #17 of 144

As someone who went to undergrad, grad and just finished a certificate program for working professionals I can honestly say no where in any of those programs were infants or children.  We had lots of mommys-to-be and new mommies but none even thought to bring the babe to class.  If you are at an all womens college its most likely a private university and has its own student conduct code etc.  By enrolling you are essentially agreeing to that code of conduct which now includes that new 'pet/child' policy.


As a student I wouldn't want an infant in class.  yes im a mom and as a mom I woudnt take my baby to class with me.  If I felt that strongly about BF I would take the semester off and finish classes over the summer or next term.  There comes a time when you need to decide school or baby.  I agree with the PP who asked if you really think you can have a baby and go back to school in the same week or so??  Every pregnancy is different and every birth is different, my birth ended with a week in ICU and almost 12 weeks of at home recovery so obviously I wouldnt be in class with that schedule.   If I was in your situation I would have cleared everything I needed with my professors BEFORE i registered and probably gotten approval in writting.


You say the college is trying to ban something.  But have they ever allowed this?  Just something to think about

post #18 of 144

Isn't it a liability issue to have babies in class on a campus?  My school has a breastfeeding room where moms can breastfeed and/or pump but I'd never expect that I could bring a baby into class with me.  It's really not appropriate, IMO.  Even when I did my Montessori from 0-3 training, the one mom who had a new baby only brought her in to visit when it wasn't lecture or practicals.  And the class was completely focused on that baby's age group!  We had all the materials to keep a baby occupied... still, it was a master's degree program for many of the students in my course, and an infant in the room for anything more than a few minutes wouldn't have really been fair.  My instructors were absolutely attachment parenting and breastfeeding friendly, but that meant that their first choice was babies would be at home with mom - not in class - and the next best thing was a adequate environment with a loving caregiver if mom (or dad) had to be elsewhere. 


I'd pump and leave baby with a trusted person, if I had no way to get out of the last 6 weeks of class.  I would never dream of complaining about not being able to bring a newborn to school with me. 

post #19 of 144

Not all newborns are quiet and peaceful.  My kiddo would have been a huge distraction in her first 6 weeks and I would have been too distracted by her to focus on the class.  breastfeeding wasn't immediately easy for the two of us and she had a lot of gas issues.  No way could I have attended classes with her.


I think a better option would be talking with your professors NOW and coming up with a plan of action to better help you finish out your semester without worry of a newborn in class with others who have paid for a class expecting there to be no babies.  Working ahead, getting notes from some classes so you don't have to attend each day, taking tests at a different time... whatever you have to do that your professors are willing to work with to ensure that you can meet your baby's needs while still maintaining a more formal student attitude.


Depending on the spacing of your classes, I think it would make more sense to have baby on campus with someone and visit between each class for a feeding and snuggle.  pump where you can so they can have at least a partial feeding on hand til you can give a full good one.

post #20 of 144

I am sorry if this will offend you but I not only think the policy is perfectly reasonable, but I think you are being rather unreasonable to expect them to bend the policy for you, particularly on the BF angle.  The policy does not state BF is prohibited, it says don't bring your kids or pets to class. 


It doesn't matter how much your child sleeps, the child is a distraction.  A distraction for you, constantly trying to ensure that he or she is being quite, is comfortable so that he or she stays asleep/quite, working on nursing properly (because it really doesn't matter how many kids you have nursed or not, that particular little one has never nursed before and it's a whole new learning experience all over again, each time,) and so on.  Caring for a new baby will be a distraction for you, distracting you from learning what you need to know.


And, the baby, even if quite sometimes, will be a distraction for others.  You have no guarentee that the baby, even one who sleeps alot, will be sleeping at the same you have class, every time.  And, even asleep, the baby makes noise, rolls around, and otherwise is "so cute!!!!"  Even if you leave the room every time the baby gets antsy, just getting up and leaving class regularly is a distraction.


As a student, I would be angry to have a parent bringing a child to class every class period.  As a former student single mom, I would be even more angry that I made the effort to have a sitter for every class, or I didn't attend class, and yet another mom, who has a partner, doesn't have the same respect for the rest of the class.

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