How to Provide a Lactation Room When You Don't Have Space
Lactation space design needs to address three core areas: legislation, user experience, and available space. If you have a small office space, budget constraints, or need a space that can serve multiple moms, here are three aspects of design to keep in mind.
1) Design that balances legal requirements with real world need
Federal and state workplace laws mandate that a space cannot be a bathroom and must be free from intrusion, but many other factors are left up to companies. How can you design a space that’s in compliance while also meeting the needs of users? The first step is to assess existing, as well as anticipated, need. You’ll also want to factor in planned and projected future growth of your company’s physical space:
How many female employees (and guests) will need the space?
What is the current available square footage?
What distance will employees need to travel to access the space?
How many women will the space accommodate?
Does current available space line up with future need?
2) Design that anticipates user experience
Breastfeeding women who pump at work have unique physiological needs. First and foremost, women need to feel secure and at ease. Lactation spaces should ensure privacy, a lock, and a comfortable place to sit for extended periods of time without fear of disruption. In addition, spaces need to provide an outlet so employees can plug in their breast pump, as well as laptops or other devices. Pumping moms are efficient multitaskers, so smart lactation space design also includes an easy-to-clean work surface so moms have the option to pump and work at the same time.
3) Design that works for small spaces
For companies with limited space, providing a temporary or makeshift lactation space may seem like a viable option. Lactation spaces, however, are rarely a one-off. Rather than cobble together temporary solutions, the sooner companies provide dedicated lactation spaces that meet the needs of their employees, the better. For organizations with multiple pumping employees, one dedicated lactation room is not enough. It’s a far more efficient use of space (and employee time) to offer a lactation room that can accommodate multiple pumping moms with separate private areas for each one. Ask any employer who has experienced the baby boom phenomenon–it’s real!
A design solution that meets all of three of these design elements will be a boon for both companies and their breastfeeding employees.