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Make your voice heard: LPSC 2009

September 4, 2008

The next Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) will be held March 23-27, 2009, at a new location.  The Woodlands Waterway Mariott Hotel and Convention Center, near Houston, TX, will provide a bigger and better space, with additional session rooms and sleeping rooms available. 

At the 2008 LPSC, a room of over 100 women agreed to ask the LPSC planning committee to set aside a room, with comfortable chairs and a door, (edited to add: and electrical outlets for those who need to pump!) for nursing mothers to use when attending the conference.  Such a room would enable more new mothers to attend the conference, to speak at the conference, and to establish or reinforce working relationships with colleagues at the conference and associated meetings.

Our request has been heard.  However, the organizers at the Lunar and Planetary Institute have questioned the potential use of such a room and have asked us to provide an estimate of how many women would use such a room if offered. 

We realize that this is a very sensitive issue, but without data, we cannot prove that there is a need.  Therefore, we are asking potential LPSC attendees to answer the following question.  If one is provided, would you use a nursing room at LPSC in 2009?

Comments on this topic are welcome and will remain open for discussion.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan K permalink
    September 12, 2008 9:35 am

    Yes, I was talking about the hotel providing a complimentary room to an organization that was giving them a lot of money and business. I know that hotels often comp sleeping rooms for much smaller meetings.

    And yes MummyCha, you are right about the hazards of trying to store and transport pumped milk. I guess I was thinking maybe about a local mother who actually went home at the end of the day.

  2. MummyCha permalink
    September 9, 2008 10:15 pm

    Sorry, I was unclear in my previous message (and confused, this is what happens when too much multitasking!) What I tried to get started last year was an onsite daycare on top of the mother’s room. This means the expense for the room plus one or several nannies, for five days. The cost was not negligible, and thus the issue came up about who is supposed to pay for that extra amenity. Obviously, there were several issues beyond just the cost, but that’s another topic…

  3. September 9, 2008 9:26 pm

    When I talked to South Shore Harbour (the previous conference hotel) about it last year, they told me that they typically do comp conferences a room like this, in addition to the rooms they comp for internal meetings, organizers, etc. Even if it had to be paid for, it’s not going to be much, on the scale of things.

    I think cost here is a red herring.

    And yes, a normal hotel room or suite with comfortable chairs and available outlets would be fine.

  4. MummyCha permalink
    September 9, 2008 4:42 pm

    To Susan K: Part of the problem is probably a cost issue, is that right Susan N?
    Who is supposed to pay for the extra room? I have addressed several times the request of a mother’s room with the LPSC organizers and that question came up. For example I suggested that the cost be added to the registration fee, and I was replied that it would be unfair that everyone contributes the cost of that room. Well, I do not go to all the extra workshops and receptions organized in parallel to the conference…

    On another note: since you are mentioning a fridge, I imagine you are planning to store the milk to bring it back? I tried that, at the LPSC two years ago. The idea of throwing away several liters of the “special mummy”‘s drink for my beautiful son was really heartbreaking. I thought I took a great care to store and transport the milk back to Pasadena, but somehow the milk got bad. Maybe due to the fridge too low, or fluctuating temperature. Thus if you want to keep and transport the milk back, it is good to have a very well defined strategy ahead of time (like preserving the milk bags in ice inside the fridge or freezer).

  5. Susan K permalink
    September 9, 2008 2:03 pm

    Um, this is a HOTEL right? Is there some reason the hotel can’t comp LPSC a sleeping room with a fridge? Maybe take out the bed and bring in some extra chairs. It would be private, have a door, have a bathroom, have electricity. The dresser can double as a changing table (and maybe a local mum could be convinced to loan a changing pad for the week). It would be removed from the conference, but in the same building – convenient but out of the way at the same time.

    Maybe the hotel doesn’t like the idea of leaving a room open…

  6. Another PS mom permalink
    September 8, 2008 10:03 am

    Maybe we could just call it a “mother’s room” (like lots of places do) so that people aren’t confused as to what they are meant to do in it – breastfeed, pump, feed a baby big enough to eat from a spoon, change a diaper, let a baby cry so as not to disturb a session, or even just sit and play! There are likely to be multiple moms in the rooms at once, so we may have to throw a little of our modesty to the wind (and if we’re all there for the same reason it won’t be too bad) though there are always blankets and wraps to feed/pump under. At least, though, there wouldn’t be that threat of random colleagues walking over to talk to you while you’re in the corner of the lobby feeding your baby.

    As much as I am in agreement that women should be able to feed their babies anywhere, not everyone (especially new, first time moms) feels comfortable feeding in the open. And let’s be fair, pumping in the lobby isn’t really an option.

  7. September 7, 2008 10:03 am

    Phdinparenting, I hear you … when I think of the places I nursed my first son, I have to laugh. (In the lobby, in the pool area, in hallways, and in bathrooms (yuck!)… where ever I could find a comfy, private enough spot, basically) I made it work, but it was oh so hard.

    My hope is that by providing a private, comfy place to pump or feed the babies we make this particular conference a little more welcoming to women who also happen to be lactating.

  8. Karen permalink
    September 6, 2008 2:44 pm

    I will be a first time Mom in November and my husband and I plan on bringing our baby to LPSC. Since my Mom may come to help out, we probably won’t stay at the conference hotel, so having a place to duck out for feedings would be great. And although some Moms may feel comfortable feeding elsewhere, I am not sure that I would be comfortable feeding where I might be stumbled upon by colleagues. I think a lactation room would just give Moms like me a place we feel comfortable going with our babies.

  9. September 6, 2008 11:39 am

    I would agree that a pumping room at a conference would be great for moms that don’t bring their babies or that are exclusively pumping and calling it a “lactation room” would be great. However, my worry with a “nursing room” or “breastfeeding room” is that it suggests to mothers that it is not appropriate for them to breastfeed elsewhere. If I did bring my baby to a conference, I wouldn’t want to feel that I had to go and hide to breastfeed.

  10. September 4, 2008 8:40 pm

    Rachel, you are 100% right. Thanks for the reminders!

  11. Rachel Mastrapa permalink
    September 4, 2008 7:25 pm

    I may or may not bring my son, but I would like someplace where I can pump. Unless it is already in the plan, please make sure that there is ready access to power outlets so I can plug in my pump.

    I realize that I am being picky, but I prefer lactation room. I’m not an R. N. 🙂

    Thanks for doing this!


  1. Results of poll « Women in Planetary Science

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