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Mothers' Rooms: What's Required, What's Needed, and What to Bring

By InHerSight – Feb 29, 2020 at 10:00AM

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A designated room can really help nursing moms.

This article originally appeared on InHerSight.com, a website where women rate the female friendliness of their employers and get matched to companies that fit their needs.

As a first-time mom, I didn't know what to expect when I started pumping regularly at work. I hadn't even seen a mothers' room until the day I received my special permission badge to get into the one in my building. (I'm lucky in that my workplace has a dedicated room with online scheduling and key FOBs.) To my surprise, the room had some great amenities already in place, which I'll talk about below.

A mom with a yawning newborn wrapped in blankets.

Image source: Getty Images.

Many mothers' rooms aren't nearly as equipped for new moms as mine was, and the law doesn't require them to be. I learned that when I began investigating whether my experience was the norm. It turns out, it was not. When I started looking into the requirements of mothers' rooms, I realized there are some key features all new moms need to feel comfortable pumping at work.

What the law requires

Time

New moms are allotted a reasonable amount of time to pump. More specifically, the law states that employers are required to provide "...reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk."

A place

Employers have to provide new moms with a place other than a bathroom to pump -- that can be a dedicated mothers' room or another office space, like a conference room. The law only requires the space be shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. In other words, its door must have a lock. 

What companies really should provide moms who are pumping

  • A designated room just for mothers. Mothers usually have to pump within a certain time frame. If the room is the only place for a mom to pump and the room is booked for a meeting, that mom may become really uncomfortable (not pumping is painful) and perhaps too distracted to work.
  • A way to reserve the room. This is important so new moms don't bother any other mothers who might also be pumping. It is already awkward when you have to strip down in an isolated room. It would be even more awkward if someone was trying to get in!

  • A comfy chair and footstool.

  • An extension cord to the chair. A comfy chair is great only if you can reach an outlet! Even a battery-operated pump sometimes runs out of juice.

  • Cubbies or lockers. New moms will be in and out of this room for about a year. Having a cubby is much more efficient for their work life. Then they don't don't have to lug a pump in and out of the room three times a day!

  • A fridge. This is a nice-to-have. It's really nice not to share space for your baby's food with a 2-week-old burrito someone forgot to take home.

  • Quick access to sink, dish detergent, and microwave.

What new moms need to bring

  • The obvious -- your pump, nursing bra, and storage bags.

  • A tiny cooler to transport your milk.

  • Microwavable sterilizers.

  • A Sharpie. Those baggies of breast milk need to be dated!

  • Disinfecting wipes. Breast milk is a bodily fluid. Even if you are super careful, sometimes spillage may happen, especially with all the different parts to the pump.

  • An extra sweater! From one mom to another, there will be days when your breasts just leak everywhere. That sweater will come in handy to cover up any accidents.

The Motley Fool has an ownership interest in InHerSight. Motley Fool CFO Ollen Douglass serves on the board of directors for InHerSight. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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