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Parents' cozy room

When designing spaces, institutions need to ask their future users what is required of a space to make it usable.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are extended periods of physically draining invisible work that require very simple accommodations onsite for support. I have encountered very few pregnant people in my past 10 years in academia, but the ones that I knew (myself included) generally wanted to come into the office and continue their work as long as possible. At the Kapteyn Institute (RUG) there was an unofficial pregnancy napping couch used by 4 junior academic moms in succession. Expecting 8 consecutive hours of work from someone using hundreds of kcal more energy than usual is unrealistic.

Instead of expecting them to work from home, or commute while tired, a napping place is a simple, inexpensive solution.

 

We were all re-energized after 30 minutes or an hour on the napping couch and able to continue working a nearly full day without the shame of “doing less” work than our colleagues and seeming unproductive. A napping place would not only benefit pregnant people, but also people with young babies or even with children who have special needs, or happen to be going through a difficult physical or emotional change. There are many reasons for parents to be exhausted and sometimes working from home is not a good enough solution.

As with most accommodations and universal design ideas, this would also benefit other groups, like people with disabilities or energy limitations.

Parents gezellig room.png

More suggestions from the community

  • Bookable room that can be requested to be private or shared as needed.

  • Electrical outlets that are easily reachable from the two chairs or some kind of charging station with a few types of inputs​

  • Ideally, electrical outlets at waist height, so people recovering from c-sections/birthing don't have to bend over

  • Extra counter space beside the sink, for wrangling pumping gear and pouring into bottles/baggies without having to worry about knocking stuff over or it falling off the edge of the counter, bumping into a kettle

  • Freezer in the fridge for ice packs (for transporting pumped milk home at a proper temp)

  • A little table or shelf by the couch

  • Bottle drying racks

  • An accessible charging station with different usb ports so most devices will work

  • A foot rest or ottoman - for people who prefer putting their feet up when sitting

  • Counter space, and maybe shelves above the counter (for different people to store their drying things). Maybe Cubbies?

  • Different lighting options (lamps vs overhead lighting) and white noise machine would be awesome.

  • Waterproof covers for chairs and couches

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