- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
- Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down
- Google’s newest photography find: Just wink and shoot
- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
- Rep. Steve Stockman: Give my campaign $10, and you’ll get an Obama barf bag
Nursing moms on Hill find haven in Capitol
In the basement of the Capitol, behind a heavy, frosted glass door secured by an electronic combination lock, is a 12-foot-by-10-foot room where many of Congress‘ new mothers go to take care of business.
Not the business of writing legislation or hashing out political deals - although all of that and more goes on behind this particular closed door.
No, the main activity here is feeding babies. Some affectionately call it the “boob cube.” It’s officially known as a “lactation suite.”
Whatever the name, it’s one of several refuges around the Capitol complex designed to give working mothers of infants a private and sanitary place to feed or pump breast milk for their babies.
Two floors down from the historic chambers where lawmakers cast votes in the House and Senate, just around a labyrinthine corridor from a secure room where members plot strategy, the lactation room is part lounge, part office-away-from-the-office for scores of women trying to balance their babies’ nutritional needs with the demands of a fast-paced Capitol Hill job.
The room is equipped with two hospital-grade pumps, a mini-refrigerator for storage, hand sanitizer and sterile wipes, comfortable chairs and all the necessities of a congressional office: multiline phones, a TV often tuned to C-SPAN and power outlets for laptops.
Conference calls are taken over the mechanical whirring of pumps. Legislation is read and marked for questions or revisions amid bottle changes. Interviews are conducted and e-mails written and answered between swipes of sanitizing wipes.
Before the room was set aside, countless women lugged heavy pumps and extension cords to their jobs on Capitol Hill, then shut themselves in any bathroom stall they could find near an outlet to pump breast milk they could bring home to their children. In a workplace where only the most senior aides have their own offices, disappearing behind a locked door simply wasn’t an option for most.
That was before the debut of the Capitol room and others like it, furnished with high-functioning pumps. The only things women need to bring are tubes and bottles.
Congress' Office of the Attending Physician opened the first lactation room in 2006, converting a suite in the basement of a Senate office building accessible only with a card key, so women could have a secure place to pump 24 hours a day. In addition to pumps, leather chairs and a sofa, TVs and a desk, the room has a refrigerator and two sinks.
The trend spread, and not long after, newly installed Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to hold the post, pushed successfully for a similar - though smaller - room in the basement of the Capitol itself.
Today, there are more than a half-dozen sites where women who work in Congress can go to pump or feed their babies. Some of the sites also are open to visitors to the Capitol complex.
Many mothers who use the facilities - most of whom spoke about them only on the condition they not be identified, because of the personal nature of the topic - say they wouldn’t have been able to continue breast-feeding their babies as much and for as long as they have without the rooms.
Mrs. Pelosi says it’s a way of giving young women a chance to excel in public service and politics.
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- PRUDEN: The scam that will not die
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- HURT: D.C. gets the vapors, calls sequester too much
- Obama mocks Putin, picks gay athletes for Sochi delegation
- Colorado revolt: 55 of 62 sheriffs refuse to enforce new gun laws
- Senators in rush to pass budget vow to undo cut to military retirement pay
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
Uncensored exploration of issues concerning current events, civil liberties, American political advocacy, and the political and social issues facing military veterans.
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow