Workplace design consists of a variety of amenities as employers strive to attract and retain their employees. Amongst these necessities is a mother’s room (or a nursing/lactation room), which is a place where employees who are currently breastfeeding can go to comfortably, conveniently and privately to express breastmilk throughout the work day. I’ve drawn mother’s rooms into numerous projects, but until I became a mom I never fully appreciated how important a mother’s room is in a workspace.
Women with children are a growing percentage of the workforce today. As of 2022, approximately 80% of new mothers start nursing their infants at birth, approximately 55% of mothers breastfeed for at least six months, and approximately 6 out of every 10 moms are in the workforce. Starting in 2010, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to “provide reasonable break time and a place to pump at work, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.”
More than the stats and the laws, it’s the heart behind a workplace that provides a mother’s room to give her support without sacrificing her dignity or her ability to be successful at her job. Since a single pumping mom will need to use this room 2-3 times a day for 15-30 minutes at a time, larger workplaces should consider offering more than one mother’s room, or even larger mother’s suites.
While there are a variety of ways an employer can provide a comfortable environment for nursing moms, here is a list of things that could be beneficial in mother’s room: A comfortable chair, convenience outlets, a mini fridge, a sink with a drain cover, a shelf and/or counter space, a table and/or a laptop stand, a mirror, dimmable light, a privacy lock on the door, a clothing hook and more.
Sources: CDC Breastfeeding Report Card; Office on Women’s Health: Supporting Nursing Moms at Work; (3) U.S. Dept. of Health: FLSA Protections to Pump at Work