How to Support ALL Breastfeeding Employees with Customizable Lactation Accommodations

Kin lactation benefits are fully customizable because we know employers need to meet the needs of all types of workers – from onsite and remote employees, to on-the-go workers like nurses, retail staff and delivery drivers. We took a closer look at the different segments of employees and explore how you can meet their needs with a tailored approach that’s affordable, flexible and most importantly, impactful: When it comes to lactation support, what an employer may perceive as just another ‘fringe benefit’ in a compensation or benefits package is actually a lifeline for a new mom navigating the transition back to work after a baby.

Breastfeeding at Work

The maternal wall continues to be an obstacle for working women, according to Dana Kirwin, director of employer and government relations for Medela, in a recent interview with Success Magazine: “Women generally face steeper challenges to career advancement. This is driven by a number of factors, one of which has been identified and dubbed as the ‘maternal wall,’ referring specifically to the ways women are held back from career growth when they become mothers.”

What message are you sending to new moms, especially those facing the monumental task of providing basic nutrition to their infant, with your lactation benefits and compensation offerings? According to a Pew Research study, 57% of workers left a position due to feeling disrespected at work. Access to specialized benefits like lactation support are an easy way to convey respect and understanding.

Achieving Compliance with the PUMP Act Across Your Organization

With an increasingly mobile workforce, employees don’t all fit neatly into one box. At a corporate headquarters, an onsite worker with an office has very different needs than a member of the custodial staff. We need to challenge our basic assumptions about how to enable pumping employees to reach their nutrition and health goals for their children. For moms returning to work after a baby, any company benefits that help them take care of their families go a long way in fostering satisfaction and loyalty.

The historic PUMP Act now offers protections to more working women than ever before. Along with any state regulations, the baseline federal requirements include providing private space to pump and reasonable break times, which can vary by individual.

Is your company ready to evenly apply these new laws across your organization and meet the needs of every employee who needs to pump?

Onsite Employees

This cohort usually has a very predictable schedule of a typical 8-hour shift onsite in a company managed setting, like an office, warehouse, or laboratory. They may or may not have a private office, but they’re primarily stationed at a designated work space.

Consider - They have the added stressors of daily commuting, which can significantly extend the time away from their baby. Being away for 40+ hours each week means it’s vital for them to maintain their milk supply by pumping throughout their work day. 

Example:  Entry-Level Financial Analyst -  The ideal time to discuss pumping at work is before an employee goes on maternity leave, especially for less experienced employees who may lack the confidence to speak up about their needs. Access to a private, dedicated lactation space in the workplace is a must, and outfitting the space with a multi-user Symphony PLUS pump is a one-time investment that yields big returns. Since each nursing employee receives an individual pumping kit (the set of breast shields, tubing and connectors) to keep at work, you’ve alleviated the burden of lugging a personal pump back and forth. Set up time is reduced, making for more efficient break times. For onsite employees, access to this type of hospital-grade pump will be viewed as a premium wellness offering. 

Onsite Mobile Employees

These employees may have a desk or locker, but are mainly mobile – on their feet and moving around – throughout the day.

Consider - Workers like teachers, manufacturing workers, nurses, or anyone in retail are typically on their feet most of the day and don’t often have a private desk or office space. Their schedules can vary daily and taking breaks to pump is extra challenging.

Example: Bank Branch Teller - For workers who can’t easily take breaks, remember that employers are responsible for ensuring individuals get coverage for needed pumping breaks, which can vary in number and duration.  A private, readily available space to express milk is also required. While the space can be temporary, adding thoughtful touches like a multi-user breast pump and related lactation accessories (disposable nursing pads, cleaning wipes, sanitizing spray and more) make pumping sessions less hectic. Rather than outfitting every retail or satellite location with a pump, consider maintaining a centrally located supply of pumps that can be shipped as needed. If no space is available, a Mamava lactation pod is a great solution.

Hybrid Employees

These workers have a fairly predictable schedule at both a home and onsite office or workstation.

Consider - Even employees who work from home part of the week must still pump regularly any time they are away from their baby in order to sustain their milk supply and avoid discomfort or health risks due to engorgement.

Example: IT Director - The PUMP Act clarifies that employers are responsible for meeting a breastfeeding employee’s needs both onsite and offsite. If a role requires a postpartum parent to be onsite sometimes, your benefits should align to meet their needs when they’re in the workplace, including access to a dedicated lactation space and, better still, a multi-user breast pump. With that scenario, employees can keep a personal pump at home to use when their baby is away at childcare, and rely on a workplace pump for those times they head into the office. Engagement tools, like our customizable parent communication campaign and celebratory gift box, will further underscore your commitment to supporting growing families.

Traveling Employees

These workers may have a home or onsite office as a base, but regularly travel long distances as part of their core work responsibilities.

Consider – Long-distance travel, especially by air, is extremely taxing for nursing mothers. They need to worry about transporting their pump, possibly pumping while in transit on a plane, train, or in a car, and must plan their breast milk feeding and pumping strategy to support being away from their baby for several days.

Example: Territory Sales Manager -  Options for traveling employees include covering the cost of a battery-powered, hands-free pump that’s specially designed so you can carry on other tasks while discreetly expressing milk. Pumps like the Medela Freestyle Hands-free are portable, with discreet in-bra collection cups and a pocket-size pump that can be easily charged on the road with a USB port. With this type of equipment, a busy parent can pump in the car or airport if need be. Best practice is also to cover the costs for breast milk shipment services your employee may need during their travel for the company.

Local Mobile Employees

Offsite workers who may travel locally by car as a regular part of their duties, have a less predictable schedule and/or may change work sites often.

Consider - These employees – like Social Workers, police officers, delivery drivers and more – will often have even more hurdles to overcome to maintain a pumping schedule because their workdays are so varied. Frequently in and out of their cars, they also may find it difficult to find a private space to pump.

Example: Delivery Driver - Similar to someone with heavy air travel, these on-the-go workers would benefit from a lactation program that includes a lightweight breast pump that’s easy to transport and has an in-bra collection option. You’ll want to supply a pump that’s backed by thorough clinical research and excellent user reviews to ensure the pump performance will actually sustain a milk supply. This relatively low-cost option makes for a nice addition to your benefits and compensation packages, and is appreciated as a high value medical device by new parents. As with employees traveling by air, coolers and related accessories (breast milk storage bags, sanitizing wipes) are especially useful when managing a highly variable schedule.

Fully Remote Employees

Workers who spend the majority of their time working from a home office.

Consider - It’s a common misconception that fully remote employees have more time with their babies and ample time to maintain their milk supply. But keep in mind that many remote workers are actually away from their babies all day, who are often in a childcare setting during business hours, just like for onsite employees.

Example: Marketing Manager  - Keep in mind that the PUMP Act requires that employers extend lactation support to teleworking employees as well. While most health plan benefits packages include a personal use pump that can support milk expression at home, consider adding access to 24/7 live lactation support so employees can talk with an expert anytime  a question or concern arises. This can reduce unnecessary ER and doctor’s visits, sustain breastfeeding, and give employees peace-of-mind. Remote employees often spend a lot of time on camera, so they also need encouragement to block out time on their calendars for pumping.

One constant – whether employees are onsite, fully remote, or somewhere in between – is that pumping breast milk takes a great deal of preparation and planning even under the best of circumstances. And without a fully supportive employer, working parents are bound to fall short of critical nutrition goals for their children.

Watch here to learn more about workplace lactation support.