The inspiration for starting this company came from reading the depressing news that 32% of new mothers stop breastfeeding less than 7 weeks after returning to work because the individual challenges mothers face with pumping is too great to overcome. (This comes from a joint study conducted by National Women's Health Resource Center and Medela.) 

When you look at the minimal effort companies can make to provide a satisfactory milk expression location, and the resulting returns, the ROI (Return on Investment) decision becomes a no-brainer. Nursing moms don’t ask for much – just a small private space and understanding of quick breaks – it’s an easy and cheap way to retain valued employees and good PR to boot.

But if you are a pioneer in your workplace, here are suggestions on how to pave the way for yourself and subsequent mothers in securing a location for milk expression while you are still pregnant if possible. The facts:  

  • Breastfeeding employees are less likely to miss work due to a sick baby since formula-fed babies tend to be sicker more often than breastfed babies.  
  • Healthcare costs for the company are lower because both baby and mother are healthier.
  • Employees who are supported for breastfeeding are happier and more productive because they stay connected to their babies by doing something good for them while they are away from home.
  • You are more likely to go back to work sooner if you know you don’t have to wean to do so.  

Troubleshooting push-back from employer

What you may hear
No dedicated space available for pumping

What you can do
Find a space you are willing to use and point out that even a space as small as 4’x5’ will work. All you need is privacy and flexible breaks – not a luxurious lounge. 

What you may hear
Other employees may feel your breaks are unfair
Educate co-workers on benefits of breastfeeding, remind them this is temporary, use approved breaks.

What you can do
Educate co-workers on benefits of breastfeeding, remind them this is temporary, use approved breaks

What you may hear
If we do this for you, others will follow
Remind supervisor that supporting breastfeeding benefits the company, if relevant, remind him/her of other approved breaks such as smoking or exercise

What you can do
Remind supervisor that supporting breastfeeding benefits the company, if relevant, remind him/her of other approved breaks such as smoking or exercise.

What if your employer wants your help in designing the ideal lactation space?

Congratulations! Here are some suggestions:

  • Invest in a hospital-grade multi-user pump because it is more efficient so takes less time to pump, and mothers don’t have to carry their own pump back and forth on top of  regular daily load 
  • Electrical outlet
  • Comfortable chair
  • A sink with running water for rinsing pump parts, but water in a nearby room will do
  • Table or flat surface
  • Disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer
  • Room locks from inside
  • Refrigerator for milk or a cooler with ice
  • Create a lactation policy that stipulates individual users take responsibility for keeping the room clean.
  • Access to lactation advice from a lactation consultant on retainer with the company

This may belie my financial background, but in the event you get into a discussion on quantifying the ROI for a lactation program, here are suggestions on data to gather and metrics to use:

  • Data: Keep a usage log in the room for users to record the hours the room is in use
  • Metrics: Compare absenteeism of mothers who use room to average absenteeism.