Contributed by Healthy Horizons, HR West 2019 Nursing Mother’s Room Sponsor
Today more mothers than ever before are returning to work within a year of giving birth, and they are returning to full-time jobs according to the US Census. With the uptick of new mothers in the workforce, the need for on-site mother’s rooms and lactation benefits has never been higher.
Like the majority of HR and facility leaders it can be hard to know where to start to implement a workplace lactation program that moms will be comfortable and happy using. To get started, here are the top five corporate mother’s room standards to implement according to the Healthy Horizons Corporate Lactation Services executive team.
- The Space
The big question is always, how many mother’s rooms do we need? The answer depends on your maternity leave statistics, the number of women who are in the age range to potentially give birth, and the layout of your campus.
These details can sometimes be difficult to gather. Cassi Janakos, Healthy Horizons, COO recommends HR and facilities leaders reference legal standards as a starting point. Federally if you have more than 50 non-exempt employees you must have at least one mother’s room per office. In California, this applies to companies with 1 or more non-exempt employees. When companies are not sure of their statistics or have a rapidly changing workforce, she recommends referencing the San Francisco Lactation Ordnance for the number of mother’s rooms. This recommendation is gender neutral.
San Francisco Lactation Ordinance Mother’s Room Recommendation
50-150 employees = 1 mother’s room
151-300 employees = 2 mother’s rooms
301-500 employees = 3 mother’s rooms
501-1,000 employees = 4 mother’s rooms
1,001-2,000 employees = 8 mother’s rooms
2,001-4,000 employees = 11 mother’s rooms
For each additional 900 employees beyond 4,000 add one additional mother’s room
- Workplace Lactation Laws
Workplace mother’s rooms and corporate lactation laws are becoming more prominent across the United States. This is leading to greater legal clarity for those upgrading their program and high-profile lawsuits for organization that lag behind. Mother’s rooms were mandated federally in 2010 with ACA. Around 30 cities and states have laws in addition to the federal law that must be followed. It can be a lot to keep track of! Check the law for every city or state where your organization has an office to avoid future legal issues.
- The Gold Standard: A Breast Pump at Work
Having a hospital-grade breast pump at work can cut a mom’s pumping time in half, helps her have a more productive pumping session, and cuts down on medical complications related to breastfeeding. It is also one less thing she needs to worry about bringing to work everyday. This amenity adds convenience and is what makes a mother’s room outstanding.
Sheila Janakos, MPH, IBCLC, Healthy Horizons, CEO says an industrial grade electric breast pump is a must to ensure mothers are able to efficiently and effectively collect their milk. These multi user machines are specifically designed for heavy use. Having a top of the line breast pump available to mothers creates an easier transition for mothers who need to frequently express milk in order to meet their baby’s needs. Mothers report that having access to these pumps makes a substantial difference in their ability to meet their breastfeeding goals.
- The Mother’s Room Experience and Final Touches
Now that you have the basics in place for your lactation lounge, think about what experience you want your working mothers to have. Are you going for a workplace retreat, a utilitarian space for pumping and working, or a relaxing spa atmosphere? Small additions can make a big difference in presentation, adding wall decals, scent diffusers, soft music, or colorful throw pillows will instantly elevate the mother’s room experience.
Cleaning supplies for the pump and a personal pump attachment kit are a must for each mother. The right cleaning supplies keep everything clean and presentable for all moms using the room. Many companies have their mother’s rooms and breast pumps maintained by Healthy Horizons to ensure the hard work they put into creating the perfect space is kept up.
Lactation snacks and teas are an easy addition, especially if you offer snack or tea in other areas of your office.
- Breastfeeding Employee Engagement
Employees returning from maternity leave need to catch up on projects, connect with colleagues, and balance work and family. Communicating the mother’s room amenities and how to access them early to new and expecting mothers is important in making the transition back to work easier. Once your mother’s room is ready, have a mother’s room open house to showcase the new space. Make sure mother’s room information is included in the maternity leave packet, employee handbook, and covered in benefits sessions. Good communication goes a long way in making the return to work less stressful.
About Healthy Horizons
Healthy Horizons is the leader in workplace mother’s rooms and lactation at work benefits across North America. Healthy Horizons sets up and maintains mother’s rooms and breast pumps, offers on-site and online classes and education, and ongoing support to ensure companies have successful mother’s room programs.
CEO Sheila Janakos has 30 years of experience as an expert lactation consultant and healthcare CEO.
COO Cassi Janakos is an engineer who specializes in organizational development, operations, and optimization.