POLL: Elements of an Ideal Lactation Program at work? — The Bump
D.C. Area Babies

POLL: Elements of an Ideal Lactation Program at work?

I'm going to write up a proposal in a few weeks for work - we have a room (only because of the Federal mandate), but you can't even say we have a "lactation program" - no formal one beyond women emailing each other saying they're going to go pump. 

Simple things like a fridge (you mean you can't just use ice packs?) and a sink (what, you need to wash things?) and a more formal/central place for women to sign up for the room (through Human Resources?  Why?) go right over the heads of the people who make decisions at my work.

So really, from the basicis to the "would be nice to have"s - please share a list of things you think a program should have. 

And those of you who have really good facilities/programs (Sofka!) please chime in with a list of what makes your program a good one.  Not just physical facilities, but processes, people involved, etc.

PS - I sat in on a focus group about lactation programs recently and thank goodnes it was a teleconference because I was in tears towards the end - I was just getting so angry about the lack of knowledge/understanding about breastfeeding, pumping at my work.  I heard a guy the other day refer to pumping as "gross."  Jerk.

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Re: POLL: Elements of an Ideal Lactation Program at work?

  • My work doesn't have a formal program. I basically just asked my co-worker where she goes to pump and she told me to email someone in facilties for a key. There are two small rooms available, each with a chair and a desk. They are clean so I can't complain.

    But, it would be so nice if workplaces did more. Here are some ideas:

    1. Put together a packet for moms coming back from maternity leave who plan to pump that has information on pumping, their rights, how to talk with your boss, tips for juggling it with their work, key contacts in the organization, etc. It would be nice if there was also information available for managers. For example, in our staff handbook, I don't think there's any information on this topic so I think it's just handled on a case by case basis. So, I think it would be good if the company had some guidelines for both managers and employees.

    2. I think it would be nice to have a listserv or way for moms who are pumping to get in touch with each other. This may be a way to drive change within the organization, make improvements, find support, and also share resources. Also, it would be a good resource if you forget your charger or need to borrow a bottle or something.

    3. I like reading magazines while I pump and I wish we had sort of an exchange where people would leave magazines in the room to share. I'm thinking of putting up a sign saying something about this idea in our room.

    One other thing our room was lacking was paper towels and disinfectant. I find that everytime I pump, I some how drip milk. So, I bought some disinfectant and put a stack of paper towels in there. Sometimes it's just the little things that make a difference.

    It's so nice that you are taking on this initiative and I hope you can influence some positive change within your organization.

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  • At my previous employer we had an amazing program! We had a nurse on staff who's team helped to run the program. Her admin would maintain the sign-up sheet. About two weeks before the mother returned to work, she would sign-up for daily pump times (I think they were 20 minute slots). There was a dedicated room with four stations set-up. Each station had a privacy curtain, table, chair, cleaning wipes and some had a hospital grade pump so mom's could simply bring the pumping attachments. The sign-up sheet was nice that it ensured you had a space to pump (most mom's would schedule the time on their calendar to ensure no one booked meetings during pump times). If I ever had a meeting arise/run into my pump time (which happened often), the admin would work with me to find an alternate pump time/location as she typically knew which mothers were in/out that day. In the room there was a sink, mirror, 2 mini fridges and storage cabinets so mom could keep all pumping equipment in the same location. This was effective b/c many times I would be between meetings and wouldn't need to keep running back/forth to my desk wasting time gathering all my pumping gear. The nurses would also print out relevant articles about working mothers, breastfeeding, baby care, etc. from time to time and hang them in the room or stations so mom could read as they pumped. Moms would also leave behind/share magazines, etc for reading during pump times as well. I was very thankful for the program and support we had at worked. It helped me BF for over a year and didn't take any time away from my work. I actually was able to get more work done b/c I met several pumping mothers that I was involved in other projects with, or learned more about different parts of the organization (a good selling point on the benefit of the program to your employer) by talking to new mothers.
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  • I know how lucky I am! (was, no more pumping for me!)

    I've used several rooms in several buildings so let me put down what the perfect Mother's room is. There is a sign outside the door that says "mother's room," this prevents people from wondering if it's just another conference room or a break room (one room even had a "this is not a break room, for nursing mother's only" sign).  Privacy curtains are nice but really, not that necessary. Yes, it's weird when you are looking at e.o., talking and it's all just out there, but after the initial shock wore off, it's really fine.

    A comfy chair (one room even had a glider!), plenty of electrical outlets, telephones, TV (looooooved my TV, my shows during the last few months were TODAY, THE VIEW, THE TALK. When I pumped with DD, I started watching ELLEN and she's awesome, never saw her before or since). A mirror was also really nice to have.

    Women bring in and leave books and magazines. I've left several of both. There are (Clorox) wipes and paper towels, a sink with dish soap, a fridge with freezer (I stored a lot of BM there with DD as I pumped a lot more than she ate). A storage to leave your pump during the day (some women leave theirs overnight). I also kept a full bottle of water in the room (in the fridge overnight, on the table during the day), which I refilled every day. I strongly encourage everyone to drink as much water as you pump.

    Cleaning people come in and clean up when no one is there and replace dish soap/paper towels, and empty the trash can. Sometimes if it was full, I'd just place it outside the door in the hallway. 

    We did not have any type of a sign-up sheet, you just come in the door and if all the chairs are not available, you either wait or come back. I find this method very effective, I would not want to sign up and feel rushed. Some days I could be done in 10mins but there were days where the milk just flowed and flowed and I'd be there more than 30mins, I never stopped until milk stopped coming out.  I think in my 2 yrs of pumping, I had to wait max 2 times and had a person waiting for a spot once. And there are not that many chairs (anywhere from 2-4).  So, I vote against a sign-up sheet. There will also be times where you are running late or have to pump earlier than usual in order to attend a meeting.

    We also had a white board in one room where we could leave msgs for each other (i.e.: "Happy Mother's Day!") and a notebook and pen in another.

    We are not allowed to bring work into the mother's room and I think that's for the best, b/c it's impt just to relax and let the milk flow. If I could add one more thing (wishful thinking) it'd be a computer so I could nest while I pumped LOL

     I think you are doing a great service to future generations of nursing/pumping Moms, artslvr! Thank you on their behalf.


  • A key for me would be constant access. Our lactation room was OK, but at first it was frustrating because I could only get access it by having a woman let me in because she was the only one who could access the room with her badge. This was fine when she was there, but when she wasn't . . . not so much.I eventually went down to our security office and asked for them to let me access the room with my badge so I didn't have to go through her anymore.

    And, making sure that there was more than one area for pumping. We had one well-equipped room (with a table, sink, fridge, and a locking door). But when someone had that room, there was a CLOSET that we could use. Ugh. There were at least five or six other women pumping at work at the same time I was, and I think quite a few of us were on a similar schedule. It would have been helpful to have more than one room (I think they've actually revamped the room now and there are several cube-type setups).

    Also, a way to sign out the room or reserve a spot if necessary. Like I said, there was the one room, and people could check it out with our work calendar. But sometimes people would be in there without having signed out the room, which meant waiting or using the closet.

    I really shouldn't complain--there were very few times that I had to wait (it was mostly if I switched my schedule around to accommodate a meeting). I was able to pump for nearly a year after going back to work, and my office was very supportive of me taking that time.

    Icing on the cake would be reading material, TVs, or even a way to check e-mail or something.

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  • I don't have anything more to add (I don't even know if our building has one, since I'm lucky to have an office with a door and access to a fridge, etc.), but I just wanted to say that it's AWESOME that you are doing this. Really fantastic - good for you for sticky up for the pumping moms! It kind of makes me want to investigate the issue more here and see if there's anything I could do . . .
  • Probably not helpful to you but -

    When I return to work, I will get a lock put on the door to my office.  I think most women use the sink in the pantry down the hall to wash their pump parts (I've seen them in there) and there's a microwave for sterilization.  I can use the communal fridge, but most women just bring a dorm sized fridge in and keep their stuff in their office.


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  • I'll describe the set-up we have at work, plus some additional things that would be on my wish list:

    What we have at my work place:

    - Dedicated room with a lock with a code. Any nursing woman who wants to use the room can contact the person in charge and get the code, but random people can't access it. There's a sign outside the room that says "lactation room." There's also a small white board and marker where people write "occupied" if the room is occupied. The room can accomodate one person at a time.

    - Sign-up sheet inside the room where you sign up for a specific time. A new sheet is put up every Friday.

    - Room has a comfy chair, electrical outlets, small fridge, magazines, CD player with music, a sink, dish soap, paper towels, and bottle brushes.

    On my wish list:

    - Room for more than one woman to pump. There were some weeks when the room was booked all day from 8 am - 5 pm, and only one person can use it at a time.

    - Sign-up sheet available on Outlook or the intranet.

    - At one point I requested a mirror. It's not necessary, but it would be nice to have one in there.

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