What to Include in Your Lactation Space: The Basic To The Brilliant
As you may know, the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended in 2010 to require businesses with 50 or more employees to provide non-exempt breastfeeding employees with reasonable break time and a private lactation space that is not a bathroom. Many states have since introduced stricter laws to further protect mothers - click HERE if you want to check your state and how it affects you and your employer.
For those mothers who have the right to a private space or for an employer who wants to provide one - here is our functional space requirements, listed as our basics and brilliants.
You wouldn’t ask your employees to be basic at their jobs, or to only strive to be doing the minimal as a business. So why should your lactation space be any any different?
The lactation space should be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, practical access on a regular basis during the workday is essential as moms need to pump multiple times a day. Adding a lengthy walk to the already 30 min average ordeal of expressing milk is not in your best interest.
Basics: Depending on the size of your organisation have a space dedicated to at least each office - we’ve heard stories of moms having to go across the road to use neighbouring offices spaces! Frequency of lactation spaces should be as accessible as restrooms - you wouldn’t make your employees walk across the road for a bathroom break!
Brilliant: Consider how many employees are using the space, draw up a schedule if necessary, or think about providing multiple spaces for moms to use. Provide a dedicated space for each department to boost team moral and bonding.
The lactating parent must feel relaxed and secure during this time. Embarrassment and fear from lack of privacy hinders milk release and can cause mothers to stop breastfeeding altogether.
Basics: Make sure the employee is shielded from view, and ensure the room is free from intrusion by coworkers and members of the public.
Brilliant: Make sure your lactation space is lockable so Mom’s feel extra secure. Put up signage on the door or screen stating the space is in use and they should not be bothered whilst it’s its in use.
Breast milk is food. You wouldn’t eat in a bathroom, why should a baby? If the space is multi-functional, make sure it is easy for not only mothers, but other employees to keep a high level of hygiene.
Basics: Ensure you have a clean space that is cleaned and disinfected daily. The lactation space must be clean enough for handling food - think of as a food handling facility with a hygiene rating!
Brilliant: Provide wipes or cleaning supplies for your moms - another time saver that could be cut down on packing in the mornings!
Obviously the place must include a place to sit. This one we aren’t even going to put in the basics category because its not basic it’s essential.
Basics: A flat surface to place the pump and other equipment, other than the floor. Some may only need simply amenities, but consider how many people are using the space, and what all of their needs accumulate to.
Brilliant: Whenever possible, lactation spaces should have access to electricity, storage space (fridge for keeping breast milk cold), running water and a sink to wash up. These things will depend on your employees - if you are unsure talk to them about what they require.
Remember these things, and you will have the perfect lactation room! If you have any other ‘must haves’ let us know in the comments.
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