Monday, July 28, 2014

Please do not disturb: Pumping in progress

This is the sign that adorns my office doorknob every day around noon and again at 3. And this is more or less what I look like as I pump -- yes, quite the fashion statement. Thankfully my officemate is comfortable with my pumping in our office. More importantly, however, is that I have the convenient option to use the new lactation room in my building.

Northwestern University's Tech Building is no exception. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires employers to allow time for pumping as well as a reasonable space (that's not a bathroom!) to pump. Specifically, the law requires that employers “provide a 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 milk.” Moreover, employers must “provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public” for nursing employees.

Ann Hornschemeir highlighted the progressive lactation room situation at NASA Goddard as part of a great series of posts in 2011 on nursing and pumping. In a relatively quick search online, University of Michigan stands out in terms of providing a long list of conveniently located lactation rooms across campus, 16 of which are equipped with breast pumps. Similarly, at Virginia Tech many of the rooms are equipped with hospital grade pumps. This way nursing moms don't have to lug their pump back and forth from home to work.

If your building does not have a lactation room and you are interested in having one put in, consider including the following in your proposal:
  • Comfortable chair and table.
  • Good ventilation and lighting.
  • An electrical outlet. 
  • A lock and an 'Occupied' sign for the door. 
  • A hospital grade breast pump so employees needn’t tote their own back and forth.
  • A sink for washing hands, pump, and tubing.
  • Anti-microbial wipes.
  • A refrigerator, with a freezer, for storing milk during the day.
  • A bulletin board for baby photos and info/resource sharing.
  • Internet access so employees can continue to work while pumping (if they want to).
  • A clock and a mirror to readjust clothing before returning to work.
  • Routine cleaning/maintenance.
The benefits of providing lactation rooms include:
  • 3-to-1 return on investment
  • Helps recruit and retain good employees
  • Lowers absenteeism rates
  • Improves productivity
  • Builds employee morale and loyalty. 
So far (in this first week back at work with a 2-month old at home) I've been able to schedule my day and in-person meetings to accommodate being able to pump every 3-4 hours. But what happens on really busy days? Or at conferences? Anyone have creative solutions and/or just their own experience to share? 

p.s. I drafted this post while pumping.