Your employees are your biggest asset—and your biggest investment. It is a benefit to employee and employer alike to provide a workplace that supports nursing mothers. It helps you recruit and retain staff members, both male and female, who appreciate working for an organization that values families.
Increasingly, companies are creating lactation rooms as a helpful way to support nursing mothers as they return to work after the birth of a child. The idea for lactation rooms came from new moms who needed a private, safe, and clean room to express breast milk. The lactation room cannot be a bathroom because toilet areas aren’t a sanitary location.
How can you design a lactation room that supports your employees’ goals to succeed at breastfeeding and giving babies the best possible start in life? The room must be private, protecting the mother from being seen by coworkers or the public. Suggestions for a lactation room include:
- Comfortable chair allowing the new mom to sit up straight
- Flat surface for a breast pump, with easy access to electrical outlets
- Lock on the door and/or an “occupied” sign
- Anti-bacterial wipes to clean up flat surfaces
- Small refrigerator for storing breast milk
You will want to create guidelines that address employee needs and promote the use of your new lactation room. Be sure to enlist current and former new moms to work with you in establishing these guidelines.
Research has shown that corporate lactation programs help new mothers avoid taking time off for a sick child. The US Breastfeeding Committee cites a significant reduction in absenteeism among firms with lactation support. Working together, setting up a lactation room in your organization helps maintain healthy mothers and babies, happier employees, and a reputation as a workplace that both recruits and retains women combining career and family.