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City’s new lactation rooms part of Gilman’s vision for a family-friendly Pittsburgh

Katy Rank Lev
May01/ 2016

Dan Gilman, City Council representative for Pittsburgh’s District 8, remembers watching his friends and colleagues return to work after having babies and struggle to find a private place to pump their breastmilk. Even before his wife delivered their son, Sam, Gilman noticed women booking conference rooms to use for lactation, where they just had to hope nobody walked in unexpectedly.

“It really hit me how offensive this was to working mothers,” Gilman says. “I saw some of the work other cities were doing to support breast-feeding, and I wanted to see what we could do here in Pittsburgh.”

Gillman sponsored legislation to create two lactation rooms Downtown, one on the first floor of the Civic Building and another on the sixth floor of the City-County Building. The rooms are available to all city employees as well as contractors, jurors, or any member of the public who happens to be using those buildings. Gilman says each room offers a safe, private space for nursing or expression of milk.

The lactation rooms are just one piece of policy in Gilman’s vision for a more family-friendly city. “I think children are on the radar of city government now more than ever before in our city’s history,” he says, pointing to expanding initiatives like the Grub Up food campaign and Learn and Earn, the city’s summer youth employment program. “If you want to build a successful city, you have to have opportunities for everyone to succeed, and that includes everything from prenatal health to support for youth up to age 21.”

Gilman is particularly proud of his work to halt pregnancy discrimination for city employees, noting that Pennsylvania is a state where employers are still able to discriminate against pregnant women or even fire them from their jobs. “Locally, our city employees and contractors are now protected,” Gilman says.

He says he’s hopeful the lactation rooms will make a positive impact on young families, noting everything from expanded opportunities for women to serve jury duty to an easier transition back to work for young parents taking advantage of the city’s paid parental leave. Gilman, whose infant son is just 9 weeks old, says: “I’ve always been passionate about family-friendly policies like universal pre-K and affordable child care, but I didn’t really understand the importance of these issues until the birth of my son.”

Katy Rank Lev

Katy Rank Lev is a professional word wrangler. She writes about women’s health, family, and education when she’s not chasing her 3 sons through Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood.