Shur-Co Wins Grant To Update Nursing Moms’ Space

Maggie Kaltsulas said she is very happy with the support she got from her employer, Shur-Co, and coworkers when it came to pumping breast milk at work twice a day. Even though she is done with that part of child raising, the space set up for Kaltsulas is now being used by other mothers who want the same benefit for their child.

Yankton’s Shur-Co. was already enabling breastfeeding moms at work with a special accommodation, but when the South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) announced a grant to update a lactation space, company managers jumped at the opportunity.

It started about 18 months ago when Maggie Kaltsulas, marketing specialist for Shur-Co, discovered just before going on maternity leave that pediatricians recommend new mothers breastfeed their newborns for a year — at the minimum.

"I was like, ‘Nursing for a year? I won’t be able to nurse for a year!’" Kaltsulas said. "Coming back to work, they made it so easy for me; it worked for my son and I."

When she went on maternity leave, there was no place for a breastfeeding mom to pump, but according to federal regulations, breastfeeding mothers must be given a clean, private place to express milk while at work.

"Before I left, our HR manager asked me if I was planning on nursing when I came back or not. I said, ‘Yes, I am,’" Kaltsulas said. "When I came back, they had a room set up for me."

A basic lactation room requires very little: a door that locks and an outlet for the breast pump and privacy, but that was just fine, she said.

"I came back from leave, I had this room; I would go use it twice a day — that is what is recommended — once in the morning and once in the afternoon. So I got done nursing in May," she said.

In the past year, Shur-Co has gone from having no nursing mothers on staff to four taking turns in the room each day. Management perceived a need to create a more friendly work environment for their breastfeeding employees, she said.

The Breastfeeding-Friendly Business Grant that Kaltsulas found out about could be used to create a new lactation space, improve an existing lactation space or to implement innovative, space-saving ideas to meet staff breastfeeding needs for employees who primarily work outdoors or frequently travel.

"Five to 10 South Dakota businesses were going to be rewarded up to $1,000 in grant money to either create a lactation room or improve their existing conditions," she said. "So, we applied for that and received $500 from the state, and Shur-Co will match that"

Kaltsulas hopes to have the updates to the lactation room, which include a new chair, a mini fridge and a privacy blind for the door, implemented by the end of the month.

Shur-Co employee Michelle Wolhoy uses the lactating room daily and is looking forward to the upgrade.

"It feels great to be able to provide for a child during working hours," Wolhoy told the Press & Dakotan. "And yes, it (will) be a great improvement! It (will) be good to be able to relax a little more and make me feel a little more at home."

Though the grant is now closed, other South Dakota businesses can become breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, even taking a pledge at healthysd.gov.

"(It’s) good to have a support group," Wolhoy said. "I wish everyone’s work place would have that opportunity like Shur-Co."

 

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