In 2010, federal law mandated that companies who employed more than 50 employees had to provide a room in which breastfeeding mothers could express breastmilk — a regulation that was welcomed by pumping moms everywhere. The law only stipulated that you had to have a room that was not a bathroom and was free from intrusion from other employees and staff.
Has your employer instructed you to outfit a room for nursing mothers, but you’re not sure what should be included? Here are some suggestions from a working mother who has pumped for six babies over the course of ~13 years.
If you don’t have much, if any, of a budget, here are the bare-bones requirements for a mother’s room:
- One enclosed room that is not a bathroom. If there are windows, they should have shades, blinds, or curtains that close.
- A lock on the inside of the door. (A sign on the door is not sufficient; you should have a lock in addition to the sign, as people ignore signs all the time.) If necessary, you can buy a replacement door knob for under $10. If replacing a door knob is not possible, consider a hook and and eye lock or a chain lock. If for some reason you are unable to install locks, check into portable travel locks, such as this one. In a pinch, you can provide the mother with a doorstop that she can wedge under the door; however, this likely won’t work if the floor is carpeted.
- A chair. A simple folding chair will work, but if you can snag a more comfortable chair at Goodwill or from an empty cubicle somewhere, that would be better.
- An ottoman or low table (or even another chair). She needs something to place her pump on.
- A power outlet.
If you are fortunate enough to have plenty of space and an unlimited budget for your mother’s room (chances are low, but a gal can dream), here’s what a tricked-out lactation lounge would be like:
- Quiet, private room with a door lock, carpeted floors, and dimmer lights.
- Glider and ottoman.
- End table for pump, located next to a power outlet.
- Sink and counter space (for washing pump parts).
- Microwave (for sterilizing pump parts) – and while you’re at it, you could throw in a supply of microwave sterilizer bags.
- Refrigerator (probably a mini-fridge, as a full-size one would be overkill unless you have many pumping moms in your office) to store milk and/or pump parts in between pumping sessions.
- Water cooler, or bottled water stocked in the fridge.
- Basket of snacks (preferably ones with ingredients that increase milk supply).
- Smartphone charging station.
- Paper towels and disinfectant wipes (for accidental spills).
- Combination fan and heater.
- A mirror (for verifying that clothing has been refastened).
If you want to go full-on luxury for pumping moms, you can also provide a hospital-grade breastpump as well as a set of pump parts for each woman, but that is going above and beyond the call of duty. Still, any mother would be thrilled and grateful to work for a company that was so accommodating of her need to pump.
There is a lot of leeway between a bare bones pumping room and a luxury suite. Most of the rooms I’ve pumped in have been closer to the former than the latter, but it was perfectly adequate for my needs. The most important aspect, in my opinion, is privacy — no mother wants to be walked in on by co-workers or, worse, her boss while she is hooked up to a breastpump.
What do you think should be included in a “lactation lounge”? Comment with your thoughts!
JoAnna Wahlund is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.