Parental and Family Planning Resources

Two pairs of hands framing an icon of family

Tufts University as well as Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University support your decision to have or plan a family while here whether you are a student, faculty or staff. Resources include a campus parenting group, counseling and support services, mentors, lactation rooms and more.

  • Tufts University provides several resources for assisting benefits-eligible faculty and staff with obtaining childcare, which can be found on Access Tufts.

    These resources include:

    • How to change your benefits
    • Tips for finding childcare in your geographic area
    • Concierge searches through the EAP program to assist with locating available daycare options
    • Accessing backup care through
    • Finding summer programs and camps
    • Using your dependent care flexible spending account

    The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care also provides a searchable directory for licensed childcare programs. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can assist with searching childcare providers who have availability for enrolling new students.

  • University Lactation Policy
    The university’s lactation policy is published by the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). You may read that policy in the Policy for Nursing Mother’s document on the OEO website.

    For additional information regarding parenting and childcare, visit the Parenting & Childcare Resources on AccessTufts

    Lactation Rooms on the Grafton Campus
    Lactation Rooms on the Grafton campus are located in the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, in Room 107 in the Webster Family Library in the Loew Building, and room 311 in the Agnes Varis Campus Center.

    Faculty or staff with questions about lactation rooms or workplace accommodations should contact their HR Business Partner for the department/division. Students with questions about accommodations should contact the Accommodations Administrator or the Office of Student Affairs.

  • Students
    There is no official maternity or paternity leave policy for students. The Student Handbook, available to all matriculated students has more information.

    Financial Aid Implications
    When considering a leave of absence, students who have received financial aid are urged to consult with the Financial Aid Office to discuss how their financial aid will be affected by a leave of absence. A student who is approved for a leave of absence after receiving financial aid may be required to return a portion of the aid they received for that term. It is crucial to meet with someone in the Financial Aid Office to be fully informed how a change in enrollment may impact current financial aid, loan repayment and future eligibility. You may contact the office at

    Faculty seeking information about Parental Leave may consult the Faculty Handbook and should contact

    Staff seeking information about Parental Leave may consult the Staff HandbookAccessTufts or contact Tufts University Leave Administration to set up a time to meet. (Email:

    House Officers
    The policy on parental leave for staff also applies to House Officers. House Officers seeking information about Parental Leave may consult the Staff Handbook or contact Tufts Leave Administration to set up a time to meet (Email:

  • Pre-Clinical Students
    For Cummings School students in their pre-clinical years, much time is spent in didactic lecture and potential exposures are minimal. Below is a list of potential exposures and ways to mitigate risk in laboratory courses:

    Anatomy Lab – First Year
    Specimens in the anatomy lab are preserved with Carolina’s Perfect Solutions. As per the manufacturer, the only chemical in this mixture that is known to cause embryotoxicity would present that danger when consumed in large amounts. This solution contains 10% phenol, small quantities of formaldehyde (on the order of 1%), as well as ethanol and propylene glycol. If you use standard safety procedures using gloves, apron, splash goggles and work in an area with good ventilation there is limited reason for concern. Pregnant students are advised to consult with their obstetrician.  MotherToBaby Pregnancy Exposure InfoLine recommends if an expectant mother is working in the anatomy lab and develops headache, nausea, or dizziness, then she should remove herself from the lab.

    Microbiology Lab – Second Year
    Microbes used in the lab are not of additional concern to pregnant women. Students are advised if they have any health issues, concerns, or questions to consult their doctors and let the course director know if they have any particular concerns about working in the lab. Chemicals used in the lab include Gram Iodine, Crystal Violet, Safranin, and decolorizer (isopropanol and acetone). The worst of these is acetone in the decolorizer – but the amount present is minimal (Note: acetone is the ingredient in nail polish remover). Students should wear lab coats, gloves, and goggles and wash their hands appropriately.

    Clinical Skills – First and Second Year
    This class can involve physical lifting and maneuvering and students work closely with multiple large animal species to develop safe handling and clinical techniques. Pregnant students are advised to inform their clinical skills course director to identify activities that could pose a risk. This course is pass/fail and sitting out risky activities due to pregnancy should not negatively impact the students grade. Physical injury risks include heavy lifting, physical activity, and the potential risk of getting kicked or knocked over by a horse, cow, small ruminant, camelid, or pig. Physical risks will be treated similarly to students who need to sit out for a broken arm, etc. Individualized plans will be work out between the student and the instructor. Participating students should also be aware of zoonotic disease risk – see section below for pathogens associated with rats, birds, and livestock.

    Bovine Procedures – Third Year
    This class poses similar risks to Clinical Skills (above).

    Introduction to Small Animal Anesthesia and Surgery Techniques – Third Year
    This course provides an introduction to administering anesthesia and performing surgery on dogs. Potential risks include physical lifting and maneuvering, anesthetic gas exposure, and standing for several hours at a time. Students should consult with Course Director and the Assistant Registrar to schedule their laboratory times accordingly.

    Students on Clinics
    Students should consider in advance of their pregnancy and due date their ability to respond to call while pregnant or while caring for an infant. It is recommended that students try to optimize their clinical schedule to accommodate pregnancy and infant-rearing in the following ways:

    1. Try to schedule on call rotations before due date (current rotations with on- call or late-night shifts include: ER, SAMS, LAMS)
    2. Try to schedule Radiology rotations after due date

    Potential exposures and risks for students on clinics are the same for any pregnant women in the hospital (see sections below).

    Potential Risks for Pregnant and Breast-feeding Women in Veterinary Medicine
    Below are common exposures and ways to mitigate risks for clinicians, technicians, students, and employees working in the hospitals at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

    Potential exposure information is intended to be an informational resource only; any specific concerns should be addressed with a medical professional.  Individuals who are pregnant, considering becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding should seek advice from their health care providers.

    Hazards to Female Reproductive Health in Veterinary Medicine
    The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association published the article "Review of hazards to female reproductive health in veterinary practice" in April 2017 with information on the following:

    • Chemical Hazards
    • Biological Hazards
    • Physical Hazards
    • Available Guidance and Resources

    Information on the above is available on the JAVMA website here

    Drug Exposures
    When handling or administering drugs, women can be at risk of exposure via inhalation, skin contact, ingestion, or injection. However, by using proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and taking appropriate precautions, women can reduce their chances of exposure, and thus minimize the risk.

    Specific classes of drugs are known to be carcinogenic, teratogenic, or otherwise harmful to the health of pregnant and breast-feeding women. The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has compiled a thorough resource of hazardous drugs that can be found in a healthcare setting. If you are working with a drug not discussed below and you are unsure of its risk, please refer to NIOSH's hazardous drug exposures in healthcare page for more information. Below are steps pregnant and breast-feeding women can take to minimize their risk of exposure to common hazardous drugs in the hospital. Please note that these recommendations are informational only; consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended.

    Common routes of exposure in Cummings School hospitals that pregnant and breastfeeding women should consider include:

    • Administering hazardous drugs by IM, SQ, or IV routes
    • Reconstituting powdered or lyophilized drugs
    • Counting out individual, uncoated oral doses and tablets from multi-dose bottles
    • Crushing tablets to make liquid doses
    • Generating aerosols during the administration of drugs, either by direct IV push or by IV infusion
    • Handling body fluids or contaminated clothing, dressings, linens, and other materials
    • Decontaminating and cleaning drug preparation or clinical areas
    • Contacting measurable concentrations of drugs present on vial exteriors, work surfaces, floors, and final drug products (bottles, bags, and syringes)
    • Removing and disposing of PPE after handling hazardous drugs or waste

    Antineoplastic Drugs
    Use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including chemotherapy gloves, non-permeable gowns, respiratory protection, underpads, eye and/or splash protection, shoe covers, and spill kit can help reduce exposure. Additional strategies include washing hands with soap and water after drug administration, and use of gloves, mask, goggles, and a long-sleeved, water- resistant gown

    For additional information about safe handling of hazardous drugs in veterinary medicine, including receipt and storage, drug preparation, drug administration, waste cleaning and disinfection, drug transportation, spill control, and medical surveillance, please read the NIOSH handout on Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs for Veterinary Healthcare Workers here.

    Reproductive Hormones
    Prostaglandins, GnRH analogs, HcG, Progesterone, Synthetic progestin, Testosterone, Oxytocin

    Pregnant women should be cautious about handling or administering prostaglandin products. For other reproductive hormones, women may wish to avoid direct skin contact by wearing impervious gloves during drug handling. If contact with skin occurs, wash the affected area immediately and seek medical attention. Wash hands immediately after removing gloves. Always adhere to manufacturers’ safety warnings. When specific warnings and guidelines are not provided, follow NIOSH guidelines.

    Waste Anesthetic Gas Best Practices

    Before Induction:

    • Properly inspecting and maintaining anesthesia machines, breathing circuits, and waste-gas scavenging systems: anesthetic delivery system should be inspected before each use for irregularities or breaks.
    • Pressure checking the patient’s breathing circuit for negative pressure and positive pressure relief.
    • Filling vaporizers before or after the anesthetic procedure (not during).
    • Filling vaporizers under a ceiling-mounted hood with an active evacuation system, if available. Ensuring the room or local ventilation system is turned on.
    • Ensuring the scavenging equipment is properly connected.

    Administering Inhalant Anesthesia:

    • Starting the gas flow only after anesthesia is induced and the endotracheal tube is placed with the cuff properly inflated.
    • Confirming that the endotracheal tube creates a completely sealed airway.
    • If a mask is used, ensuring it fits the patient well – this is critical with animals where an appropriate sized mask may not exist (e.g. exotics, wildlife).
    • Using an appropriate oxygen flow rate for the animal’s size.

    Disconnecting Inhalant Anesthesia:

    • If the breathing circuit must be disconnected during surgery, occlude the Y-piece.
    • Turning off the anesthetic gas before turning off the breathing system and flush the patient’s airway with oxygen before disconnecting.
    • Emptying the breathing bag into the scavenging system and eliminate residual gases through the scavenging system before disconnecting a patient from the breathing system.

    Carbon Monoxide
    Avoid entering poorly ventilated, artificially heated areas where animals may be ill or dying, because of a potential for carbon monoxide exposure.

    Ethylene Oxide (Gas Sterilization)
    Ethylene oxide gas sterilization procedures are often avoided in general veterinary practice because of the challenges involved with safe use. If ethylene oxide is to be used, refer to the NIOSH and OSHA guidelines. These guidelines include wearing proper PPE when working with ethylene oxide (protective outerwear, chemically resistant gloves, and goggles or face shields). Worker exposure to ethylene oxide should be limited to 1 ppm in air measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average. Worker exposure to the agent may not exceed the short-term excursion limit of 5 ppm averaged over any 15-minute sampling period. Leave the sterilizer area during the exhaust cycle.

    Working with formaldehyde may increase chances of having fertility problems or a miscarriageMost work exposures to formaldehyde are unlikely to be high enough to enter breast milk (but it may enter breast milk at exposure levels that are found in some workplaces, such as anatomy labs).

    If a woman cannot avoid formaldehyde exposure during pregnancy or breastfeeding, the CDC provides the following recommendations here.

    • Wear appropriate gloves when handling formaldehyde. Gloves made from butyl rubber, neoprene rubber, or nitrile rubber are recommended. Latex rubber, natural rubber, polyethylene, or polyvinyl alcohol gloves are not recommended because they do not offer adequate protection against formaldehyde.
    • Respirators can be worn to reduce the amount of certain chemicals that workers breathe in.
    • Wear safety glasses and chemical aprons.
    • Wash any formaldehyde off your skin and change your clothes after work.
    • Open windows and doors and use external ventilation systems to reduce the concentration of vapors in the room.
    • If you are working with tissues, cadavers, or animal specimens preserved using formalin, rinse the specimen in water to remove excess formalin before beginning dissection.
    • Keep the formalin solution under a chemical fume hood or in another room while in the lab.
    • Remove formaldehyde-contaminated waste from the work area and place it in sealed, labeled containers.

    Insecticides and Other Pesticides
    Pregnant and breast-feeding women are encouraged to consult safety data sheets for the compounds they are working with. The National Pesticide Information Center's (NPIC) Product Research Online (NPRO) is a helpful resource containing over 400,000 pesticides. If chemical of interest cannot be found on NPRO, the Label and SDS Databases contains links to other search tools.

    Best practices include:

    • Using appropriate protective measures to prevent or minimize exposure if working with a hazardous pesticide.
    • Avoiding extra-label use.
    • Being aware that pesticide concentrates that require dilution pose a higher risk of exposure.
    • Avoiding materials that may absorb the compound and release it later.
    • Using extreme caution and biological monitoring to regulate occupational exposure to organophosphates

    Other Drugs
    For more information about exposures and ways to minimize risk, refer to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Preventing Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings here. This document includes protection recommendations for health-care workers potentially exposed to hazardous drugs (including chemotherapeutic drugs used in cancer treatment, antiviral drugs, hormones, and some bioengineered drugs) and contains guidelines for safe handling of hazardous drugs in veterinary medicine, including receipt and storage, drug preparation, drug administration, waste cleaning and disinfection, drug transportation, spill control, and medical surveillance.

    Fractious animals
    Women working with animals are at risk for contracting an infection from bites, scratches, and licks. In the case of exposure via these routes, pregnant women should inform their physician about potential exposure to the following pathogens: Pasturella multocida, Bartonella henselae, Capnocytophaga canimorsus.

    Radiography (Ionizing Radiation)
    Ionizing radiation is a known risk to pregnant women. Occupational exposure limit for ionizing radiation to the fetus is 5 mSv (0.5 rem) cumulative during pregnancy, with a 0.5 mSv limit for each month of pregnancy. Pregnant women should notify hospital leadership of pregnancy as soon as they become aware of it.

    Pregnant women should avoid radiographic evaluation unless it is justified. They should not manually restrain animals during radiography. Radiography should be performed only in controlled areas. Radiation exposure should be kept as low as reasonably achievable or as low as reasonably practicable. Increase the distance of the individual performing radiography from the radiation source, reduce the duration and amount of exposure, and use protective barriers between the individual and the source if possible. Wear radioprotective clothing (lead aprons, thyroid shields, glasses, and gloves) and use personal dosimetry badges worn on the trunk under the lead gown. Gloves and thyroid shields should have a minimum lead equivalent of 0.5 mm. For radiography of large animals, use tube stands or a pole with a cassette holder, rather than holding with hands.

    Standing (no more than 6 hours a day)
    During the second and third trimester, pregnant women may wish to discuss with their healthcare provider limiting their amount of standing and walking at work, especially standing in one position, to 4 to 5 hours. These women may also consider limiting working to no more than 42-45 hours per week.

    Heavy lifting or other physically demanding tasks
    Pregnant women may wish to reduce or eliminate physically demanding work from job duties. Women are encouraged to follow the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s specific guidelines for occupational lifting during pregnancy. Guidelines are given for infrequent lifting, repetitive short-duration lifting, and repetitive long-duration lifting in multiple body positions at less than 20 weeks of gestation and at 20 weeks or more of gestation.

    Further reductions in recommended weight limits may need to be made for veterinary personnel, considering the unpredictability of sudden animal movement or pushing and pulling of animals during lifting that may influence recommended weight limits.

    Women with previous complications of pregnancy that are likely to recur – such as low birth weight of infants and premature labor – should seek to minimize or eliminate demanding levels of physical work.

    Needle sticks
    Needle sticks are a completely preventable potential exposure for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Practice standard precautions when using anthelmintic, euthanasia, and anesthetic agents. Avoid recapping needles or use a one-handed scooping technique to recap.

  • For women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, there are many people who can be contacted if you have any questions or concerns about your experience at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

    MotherToBaby MA is a free resource for pregnant and breast-feeding mothers to contact about any exposure concerns.

    Phone Number: 866.626.6847

    Contact Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at to make arrangements and discuss any concerns about pregnancy risks, leave, and returning to school.

    Staff and Faculty
    If you are concerned about potential risks or exposures, there are several offices on campus with resources to help you. See sections above for who to contact regarding leaves.

    Environment, Safety, and Health
    For concerns and risks in the hospitals, such as radiation exposure, chemical exposure, and ergonomic stress factors.

    Stephen Larson
    Director of Environmental Health and Safety
    Phone: 617-308-3874

    Occupational Health
    For any occupational health concerns and risks on Grafton Campus

    Karen Therrien
    Hours available by appointment

    Dr. Deb Barbeau, Occupational Health MD
    Available for consultation

    Biosafety Office
    For concerns and risks with experiments or biologic agents, contact the Grafton Campus Biosafety Officer, John Tonkiss at

  • Balancing family life with a Veterinary Career: Mental Health and Parenting
    Cummings School offers counseling services on campus at the Cummings Support Center on Tuesdays 12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and Wednesdays 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Students may email Robert Lenhardt, LICSW ( or Megan Campbell, LICSW ( or call 800-756-3124 to schedule an appointment. Students may also call 800 756-3124 to reach a licensed counselor 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.  Faculty and staff may email Megan Campbell, LICSW ( or call 800-756-3124 to schedule an appointment.

    Faculty Mentors
    If you are a parent or planning on starting a family, there are faculty members at the Cummings School who would be happy to talk with you about their experiences: Please email if you would like to be set up with a faculty mentor.

    Parenting Employee Resource Collaborative
    The Parenting Employee Resource Collaborative (PERC) is a university wide initiative to connect employees who are also parents. Join the PERC e-list here.

    Parenting Group for Members of the Cummings Community
    Tufts Parent's Group is a group of people with young kids in the Cummings community who get together once a month for a kid-friendly activity (usually at a local park). It is an informal group to help us get to know each other and our families outside of work and to help new parents develop a support network. People who are interested can email Jenni Grady at to be included in the meetups.