Lactating Employee Needs

Supporting breast or chest feeding enhances the physical and mental well-being of both mom and baby. The benefits are life lasting and the individual's are minimal:

Privacy:  Lactating individuals need a quiet private space for expressing milk.  High traffic areas with a lot of background noise may have a physiological impact on the ability to express milk in a timely manner. 

A room as small as 4' X 5' with a door that locks from the inside, comfortable chair, small table or shelf, an easily accessible electrical outlet, a waste paper bin, and proper room signage is needed.  It is ideal that the room is near a source of hot and cold water for washing hands, pump supplies and containers.

RESTROOMS ARE UNSANITARY AND NOT APPROPRIATE AREAS FOR LACTATING EMPLOYEES.  

Flexibility:  Allowing ample time to express milk during the workday provides a welcoming environment for a returning lactating employees.  During the workday, lactating employees need to express milk about two to three times or every three hours.  The act of expressing milk takes about 15-20 minutes. However, there are other factors to consider when determining a reasonable break time. 

  1. The time to travel to and from the designated lactation area;
  2. Pump set-up, clean up and storage;
  3. Locating and accessing a sink to wash hands and supplies, if not available in the space. 

Providing a flexible work schedule that allows returning lactating employees time to express milk, when needed, supports them in their choice to breast or chest feed their baby and helps reduce anxiety they may experience when returning to work.

Support:  Employees that experience resistance in the workplace sometimes discontinue breast or chest feeding earlier than planned, or hesitate to seek assistance from their supervisor. A positive and accepting environment from upper management, supervisors and coworkers boosts their confidence in their ability to return to work while breast or chest feeding their newborn. 

Reference:  US Department of Health and Human Services