Designing for the modern working mom

As a new mother, Liz York, FAIA, had to make the decision every mother makes: to nurse or to bottle-feed?

On one hand, she knew the research well. Researchers have spent years documenting the positive benefits of breast feeding, including bonding between the mother and child. It stimulates positive neurological and psychosocial development. It strengthens the baby's immune system. It also decreases the risk of many health problems such as acute diarrhea, respiratory illness, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and obesity.

As an architect, however, York understood that historic ways of designing and building may protect young children—the code-specified 4” maximum spacing between railings keeps small bodies from slipping through—but leave new mothers in the lurch.

York channeled her experiences as an architect and mother into drafting, and subsequently updating best practices for designing lactation and wellness rooms. A trailblazing effort, it portended larger national conversations around a changing workforce, maternal health, and well-being through design that are only now coming to the fore.

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