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LA City Hall Opens Official Lactation Room

LOS ANGELES ( — A new lactation room, where new mothers can have a private, dedicated place to breast-feed or pump milk, was officially opened Tuesday at Los Angeles City Hall.

The City Hall lactation room, which is accessible only through a women's bathroom on the second floor of City Hall, has two chairs and an outlet for women who use a pump to express milk. The small space, which was previously used as an unofficial break room, now sports a new sign that includes a woman with a baby.

"We want to make sure that people who are coming back after having a child can feel comfortable and safe here in the city of Los Angeles," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was a sponsor of a 1997 state law protecting the rights of women to breast-feed in public or private.

Twenty city departments have received training from Breastfeed L.A. The Los Angeles Police Department, where women are often out in the field, received training specially designed for the department. The Los Angeles Fire Department will get specialized training this fall.

State labor code requires employers to provide a reasonable break time for women to feed or pump and "make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee's work area, for the employee to express milk in private."

City Council member Tony Cardenas, who was the first to raise the idea of creating a lactation room at City Hall, said only about one-quarter of all businesses in the city have facilities for women to breast-feed.

"This isn't just a women's issue. This is a family issue, and this is a community issue," Cardenas said. "Women should have the dignity and privacy and the respect that they deserve to breast-feed their children when they go back to work."

The alternative for most women, Cardenas said, is to breastfeed in a bathroom or a car where it can be too hot during the summer.

"It's just inappropriate," Cardenas said. "Who wants to eat in a bathroom? Our children and our mothers should not have to go through that."

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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