6 ways employers can support nursing parents

Career woman on phone at work while holding her baby who sits on her desk. Career woman on phone at work while holding her baby who sits on her desk. Career woman on phone at work while holding her baby who sits on her desk. Career woman on phone at work while holding her baby who sits on her desk.

Key takeaways

Workplaces with robust breastfeeding support stand out as employers of choice. Elevate how your workplace supports nursing parents with these six ideas.

Breastfeeding offers many benefits to both parents and babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until at least 1 year of age or until both parent and baby are ready to stop, while the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until two years or longer.

Deciding to breastfeed is a personal matter, and it can be a very rewarding experience. However, it can create challenges for parents returning to work after maternity leave. Pumping milk at work requires significant energy, determination, and planning from parents.

That’s why in April 2023, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) went into full effect. Under this law, more workers in most industries have the right to:

  • Reasonable break time for pumping for a year after giving birth.
  • A private space to pump, other than a bathroom, that’s shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.

While the PUMP Act provides important protections for working parents, it behooves companies to go beyond these legal requirements and implement more supportive measures. Two-in-five workers are parents with a child under age 18 at home, and workplaces with robust breastfeeding support stand out as employers of choice.

Are you ready to elevate how your workplace supports nursing parents?  Keep reading for six ideas!

1. Flexible work arrangements

For employers that can offer them, flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flex schedules, can help make it easier for parents to balance nursing/pumping and their careers.

2. A comfortable lactation space

A folding chair crammed into a supply closet isn’t an ideal setup for pumping parents. Instead, try to provide nursing parents with a dedicated space that’s comfortable, sanitary, quiet, and private. Here are some items the lactation room could have:

  • A comfortable chair that can be washed and sanitized
  • Clear access to an electric outlet
  • A small table
  • A refrigerator for storing breast milk
  • A microwave for sanitizing breast pump equipment
  • If possible, a sink for washing breast pump parts
  • Gentle lighting, such as a lamp
  • Breast milk storage bags
  • Paper towels and sanitizing wipes
  • Lockers or storage space
  • A sign identifying the room as a lactation space and a “privacy please” sign for when room is in use
  • A shared online room usage schedule

Some companies even purchase or rent hospital-grade corporate breast pumps for employees to use at work. These pumps are more powerful than personal use pumps, and they help parents produce more breast milk in less time.

3. Professional lactation consultant services

Lactation consultants offer breastfeeding support and education and can help parents with issues that may come up. Providing employees with access to a certified lactation consultant can help make the transition from home to work less stressful.

4. Extended breastfeeding accommodations

 Deciding to breastfeed beyond a year is a very personal decision, yet some parents are forced to stop pumping at one year because that’s when their legal rights to pumping breaks end. We recommend supporting nursing employees until they decide to stop pumping or breastfeeding.

5. Breast milk shipping services

 If you have employees who travel for work, consider a breast milk shipping service like Milkstork that facilitates getting pumped milk home.

6. Communication of lactation policy information

 Does your workplace support nursing parents? Help ensure your employees are aware of their rights—and all the great lactation support you provide—by communicating your lactation policies and benefits to employees.

Want more? Check out these 7 benefits for expectant parents.

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