Establishing a Corporate Lactation Program
The purpose of a corporate lactation program is to make it easier for working moms to balance family and work life rather than have to choose one or the other. When an employer offers lactation program there are several services that can be made available to employees who have chosen to breastfeed or express milk for their infant children.
While the program seeks to provide benefits to the working mothers in a company, the employer also benefits from offering the program in several ways. Employers with programs in place say that mothers return to work sooner after maternity leave. They also report fewer instances of employee absences due to infant sickness, improved employee morale and increased productivity.
As an employer it is important to remember that a Corporate Lactation Program can not only offer great services and benefits to working mothers, but it can also help to educate and inform other employees of the many benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk.
Why do working mothers need lactation programs?
Working nursing mothers are confronted with three major barriers in the workplace.
- Lack of flexibility in their work schedule to pump
- Lack of accommodations to pump and store breastmilk
- Concerns about support from employers and co-workers
There are 3 essential requirements that are needed to eliminate these common barriers and create a breastfeeding friendly workplace, which include time, space and support.
- Time – Sufficient break time or flexible work hours, that will allow a mother to express an adequate amount of milk throughout the day.
- Space – Moms will need a clean, private and comfortable space at work to pump. Closets and bathrooms do not qualify as suitable spaces for this purpose.
- Support – Having Mother-Friendly/Breastfeeding-Friendly Polices in place can provide much needed support for working mothers while also educating other employees about the benefits of breastfeeding.
How can we create a lactation program for our company?
When you begin to setup a lactation program for your company, you should focus on meeting the above mentioned requirements. A company can offer lactation benefits to mothers in several ways including offering a lactation room and providing breast pumps as well as helping to make other lactation services available for working mothers within the company.
Assigning a Lactation Room
Pumping at work can be challenging for a new mother especially when she needs to find a private place to pump. By creating a private space for all mothers to use. An appropriate room for pumping should have a locking door, access to an electrical outlet, a table and a comfortable chair. Restrooms do not qualify as suitable accommodations; consider using an unused office or conference room.
Lactation rooms can be created in different configurations including a vacant office or room that offers complete privacy, a semi-private room that uses curtain dividers or a lounge type room that allows women using the room to interact with one another.
Keep in mind that those employees who will use the room will vary over time. What is preferred by some women may not be by others. Offering a room that allows for multiple configurations can often be the most beneficial.
Providing Breast Pumps
A good quality breast pump that can be used for daily pumping can be a big expense for new parents. Employers have three options for providing breast pumps to their employees. The first option is to provide a hospital grade pump that can be shared by all of the mothers. The second option is to provide a personal use pump to each mother as needed. The third option is to offer a reimbursement plan that allows each mother to choose the pump of her choice.
Making Other Services Available
- Educational Materials – Breastfeeding books, pamphlets and videos can be offered to your employees to provide them with the information about the benefits of breastfeeding. These types of items can be purchased from La Leche League International.
- Expressed Milk Storage – While breastmilk does not require special handling or storage, providing a refrigerator for mothers to store their expressed milk is a welcome addition to any office pumping room. For more information about proper milk storage read our Breast Milk Storage Guidelines.
- Lactation Consultant Services – The transition from maternity leave back to work can be made less stressful for breastfeeding mothers with the guidance of a professional lactation consultant. Use the International Lactation Consultant Association’s directory to find consultants practicing in your area.
As an employer, you have the ability to make balancing work life and family easier for your employees by providing a pumping room or other lactation services. The Special Workplace Packages that we offer at Breast Pumps Direct can help you to get all of the supplies and products that you need to setup your company’s lactation room.
If you are a working mom who is trying to establish a lactation program at your workplace, be sure to inform your employer of the many benefits of breastfeeding that are outlined in the articles Benefits of Breastfeeding and Top 20 Reasons to Breastfeed.
Return to: Breastfeeding in the Workplace