Why the workplace needs a dedicated space for breastfeeding moms
Since we began working with Medela in 2014, we’ve become immersed in the lives of millennial moms. We’ve learned about the amazing health benefits of breast milk for babies and mothers, as well as the obstacles facing breastfeeding moms today.
of working mothers aren’t given adequate break time or a private, non-bathroom space to pump or breastfeed.4
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a baby’s life and encourages continuing for 12 months.1 Yet employers are only required to give new mothers 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their newborn.2
The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, requires employers to provide space and time for breastfeeding or pumping for up to one year after a child’s birth.3 But as many as 60% of working mothers aren’t given adequate break time or a private, non-bathroom space to pump or breastfeed.4
Education level is also part of the equation. While 57% of mothers with a bachelor’s degree or higher breastfeed their babies for at least 6 months, just 32% of those with a high school education only reach the 6-month mark.5
This problem is large and systemic, and it reflects many of the socioeconomic and racial inequities that plague our communities. As a company that lives and breathes health and wellness, we realized we could do better by our breastfeeding coworkers and our community
Shared knowledge can help more moms. See what we did in our office and with our community to see what you can do to help the moms in yours.
What We Did: The Womb at StoneArch
With a staff of 35, two pregnant employees qualifies as a legit baby boom. So when two of our designers proposed the idea of creating a pumping room, the answer was a resounding “yes!”
StoneArch designers Lauren and Allison estimate it took roughly three days and $500 to transform an old storage room into a cozy pumping space, complete with comfy chairs and pillows, soft lighting, a mini-fridge, and work table. In keeping with our anatomically named meeting rooms, they called it “The Womb,” an apt metaphor for its quiet, calming vibe.
Medela decks it out
When Medela heard about The Womb, they wanted to help. With support from Medela Cares, the company’s corporate social responsibility initiative, StoneArch received a hospital-grade pump and all the accessories our breastfeeding coworkers needed to reach their goals.
“Having a dedicated space made it easier for everyone here to embrace this as part of our reality.” Kiki, nursing mom at StoneArch
Tips for Designing Your Own Pump Room
You don’t need a design degree or a big budget to create a warm and inviting pumping room at your workplace. StoneArch designers Allison and Lauren offer the following tips to help you get started.
Ask the moms what they need. By talking to our pregnant coworkers ahead of time, we knew what they needed: a comfortable chair, a fridge for storage, soft lighting, a lock, and a desk or working surface.
Don’t overthink it. Look for unused spaces at your workplace. Check out Pinterest and interior design sites for inspiration. Search online for affordable pieces that fit your space.
Present a vision. Put together a nice Pinterest board to show the mood and feel. Make a checklist of the must-haves with cost estimates. Make it easy for your organization’s decision-maker to say “Yes!”
Dig in. We put on our grungy clothes and painted the room ourselves. We each added a lot of personal touches—it was really fun!
Be responsive. One of the moms asked about storage and shelving, something we hadn’t thought of originally. It was easy and inexpensive to add elements that made the room more functional.
Insist on respect. As soon as The Womb was ready, we let everyone know that the room was just for pumping. It was the only way to keep it clean, private and available to our breastfeeding moms.
Community Outreach: Jeremiah Program
According to the CDC, the more education a mom has, the more likely she is to achieve her breastfeeding goals.5 So it was a natural fit for StoneArch to partner with Medela Cares to support Jeremiah Program, a nonprofit dedicated to helping single moms and their children get access to better education, secure stable housing and transition out of poverty, two generations at a time.
Medela Cares matched our gift of $3,500 with more than $4,000 in hospital-grade breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies to meet the needs of more than 80 Jeremiah families.
According to Meghan Redmond, Volunteer Manager for Jeremiah Program, “Nearly all our residents who have been pregnant have expressed an interest in breastfeeding. But because they’re already balancing so much, they often quit in the first few weeks. Having Medela accessories and educational materials on hand will be a great help to us and the women we serve.”
We’re excited to see what increased access to breast pumps and supplies will do for these highly motivated and deserving young moms.
Tips and Resources for Working, Pumping Moms
StoneArch moms Kiki and Jaclyn share ideas on how to make pumping work at work.
Talk to your employer early on about your breastfeeding goals. That’ll help set expectations and give your company enough time to create a space for you.
Protect your time to keep other priorities from creeping into your pumping time. Figure out when you can be flexible, but assert yourself when you can’t.
Stock up on supplies and, if possible, a second pump to keep at work—it’s one less thing to worry about on rushed mornings. Important pump room accessories include:
- Blankets or layers for warmth
- Backup parts for your pump
- Hands-free pumping bra
- Clean-up wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Plenty of snacks and water