Lactation Room Requirements for Employers: Creating the Space
Supporting your new parents’ breast milk feeding goals as they return to work is essential to having a productive, family-friendly workplace. In the first part of our primer, we reviewed how to lay the groundwork for your lactation space plan. In this second part, we’ve assembled a guide to help you create a lactation room that aligns with your company’s values. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, but it does need to take into consideration the unique needs of a breastfeeding parent. Whether you’re starting new or revamping an existing space, here’s how to create a fully compliant space and a win for company culture.
Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Culture: Normalize Pumping at Work
Parents returning after maternity leave are facing a number of obstacles. Many want to continue feeding breast milk, but are concerned about how pumping milk at work will be received by managers and colleagues. They worry that they may be viewed as slacking or distracted. The remedy to alleviating concerns and creating a positive pumping culture is by openly communicating your support of breastfeeding parents.
Education and promotion of your policies should extend to all employees, not just those of childbearing age. Even though 90% of people think women should be allowed to pump at work, 31% don’t think employers should have to provide a lactation space.¹ With greater awareness, your organization is better positioned to stay compliant and avoid formal complaints from employees.
Identifying the Lactation Space
To provide your new parents with a dignified, intentional and comfortable place to pump, start by carefully considering your options. We suggest meeting with your facilities manager to tour spaces. Some considerations:
Private, Dedicated Use - You’ll ideally want a private room with a locked door that’s dedicated for use as a space for nursing parents. Any windows should have coverings and there cannot be cameras in the room.
Single User Vs. Multi User: Will your room need to support multiple women at one time? Consider adding privacy options like screens or curtains to divide your room into stations and don’t forget to have enough storage space and seating for everyone.
Indoor Walking Route - Make sure the room is no more than a 5 to 6 minute reasonable walk from employee workstations. If it’s too time-consuming to access, an employee could claim it’s not functional access.
Additional Room Features - A room should have enough space to fit a comfortable chair, table, storage and ideally, a sink and counter for washing pump parts and preparing bottles. It should also offer at least one easily accessible electrical outlet for plugging in a breast pump.
Lactation Pods - In lieu of creating a space, a great option is a turnkey freestanding Mamava pod. These pods are also a convenient way to take care of employees at branch offices, retail locations, hospitals, warehouses or anywhere space is limited.
The Foundation: Pumps & Other Essentials
Now that you’ve identified your space, here are the basic building blocks to creating a functional room for your pumping employees.
Comfortable Seating - For pumping parents, comfort is key. Have adjustable, supportive seating near a table and electrical outlet for mom to use while pumping. Keep in mind that the best position for pumping is sitting upright, not reclining. Consider wipeable chair materials for easier cleaning.
Table & Counter Area - Have a table or surface that’s at least 24” deep near the seating area to hold the pump, as well as space near the sink to clean and organize breast pump parts.
Locked Door/Privacy Features - Create a private, secure atmosphere for pumping moms by having a door with a lock. For rooms that don’t rely on a scheduling system, a “do not disturb” door tag can let people know the room is in use.
Power Supply - Most parents will be using electric breast pumps that require a power source while pumping. Raising power sockets to counter-level makes it easier for them to set up their pumping station.
Sink & Cleaning Supplies - Breast milk can’t be used if it’s contaminated, so hygiene protocols are a must. A small sink with soap, paper towels and a waste bin will help employees clean the space and their pump parts after a pumping session. A lactation room should have the same high standards as any food preparation area and be included in your facility’s regular cleaning rotation.
Microwave - A microwave is handy for steam cleaning and sanitizing breast pump parts. We recommend a microwave with a minimum wattage of 800W, and preferably 1100W or more to make each session as quick as possible. Additionally, the microwave interior should be at least 6” tall and 7” deep with a turntable feature.
Refrigerator - Breast milk must be stored in a cool place once collected. Having a small, dedicated refrigerator in the room allows employees to store their breast milk separately from the break room fridge.
Multi-User Breast Pump - Most employers opt to provide a hospital-grade (multi-user) breast pump for on-site employee use, which eliminates the need to lug a personal pump back and forth. The Symphony® PLUS Breast Pump from Medela, the #1 most trusted breast pump brand, is a great option.
Lactation Room Essential Accessories - Having the right accessories on hand will keep busy moms organized and reduce clean up time. Essentials include wipes, disposable nursing pads, breast milk storage bags, micro-steam bags and a breast pump sanitizing spray.
Additional Furnishings & Finishing Touches
Underscore your support of working moms with a few extra low-cost touches to make the space even more functional and welcoming. You’ll also help mothers to be more efficient with pumping breaks.
Pump Storage - Include storage for a multi-user pump and lactation accessories or a secure place for an employee to store their personal breast pump and parts in the room.
Scheduling System - Set up a way for employees to reserve the space ahead of time. This allows them to plan pumping sessions around their work responsibilities and ensures availability.
Climate Control - Since your new parent will be partially undressed during pumping, having a thermostat in the room for personal climate control is extremely helpful in maintaining a comfortable atmosphere.
Mirror & Clothes Hanger - A place to hang her clothes and a mirror to check her appearance afterwards helps an employee confidently return to work.
Rugs & Wall Decor - Sound-dampening features such as rugs or wall covers can add an extra sense of security and care to a room.
Entertainment - A magazine rack, reading materials or a smart speaker can help new parents relax during their pumping sessions.
Message Board - An area where moms can share messages of encouragement is a nice touch and also a good way to post flyers or information about how your organization supports breastfeeding parents.
Lactation Programs: How to Deliver More Support to Pumping Employees
Many employers see lactation benefits as a way to bolster its family friendly offerings and fulfill gender equity initiatives. Millennials, who represent the largest cohort in the workforce and account for 80% of all births, care as much about work-life balance as compensation – 65% rate work-life balance and better personal well-being as very important when considering a new job.²
You can further work-life balance by helping these new parents transition back to work and balance their workload with pumping breaks. Compared to other health-related benefits, lactation support is affordable and easy to implement. Options for on-site and remote workers include:
- Hospital grade (multi-user) breast pumps and lactation accessories
- Wearable, hands-free breast pumps ideal for traveling or mobile workers
- Freestanding Mamava lactation pods for a turnkey lactation space solution
- 24/7 virtual access to live lactation consultants and pediatric experts
- Engagement campaigns that include a welcome gift and strategically timed communications to prompt employees to take advantage of benefits
- Milk shipping for business travel
Kin is here to help if you have questions about complying with the new PUMP Act. We’ve partnered with more than 100 companies of all sizes and industries to create custom solutions. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out the first part of our primer on how to lay the groundwork for meeting the needs of breastfeeding employees and being in full compliance.
¹Breastfeeding & Pumping in Public Survey, Aeroflow, 2019.
²Generation Disconnected, Gallup, November 2022.