Creating a mom's room at work
September 15, 2017 10:58 PM   Subscribe

I have a new mom returning to work at my office, and I'd like to convert our underused conference room to a nursing/pumping/mom's room. Pinterest is failing me. What should a room like this have (aside from a lock on the door)?

Suggestions of what to have in this room are welcome - but also any links to photos, Pinterest terms (I can't find any), blogs or websites are welcome too.
posted by Toddles to Work & Money (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It needs a mini-fridge.
posted by brainmouse at 10:59 PM on September 15, 2017 [14 favorites]

Does the conference room have windows? Shades for privacy would be good.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:04 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Various phone chargers with long cords and a power strip.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:09 PM on September 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

My NICU pumping room had little peanut butter single serving packets, crackers, turkey and bread sandwiches, cartons of milk, bottles of water. Be sure there is temp control--mine was chilly and you have to at least partially disrobe to pump so it was always slightly uncomfortable. Mini fridge and power strip+phone cords --- absolutely.
posted by rio at 11:53 PM on September 15, 2017

Bravo, you! There's a good list in this Washington Post piece (copied below for posterity/paywalls).

"What does a pumping room look like anyway?

It does NOT look like a bathroom stall, not only is this not legal it is disgusting.

So what does "compliance" mean:
Clean — sanitary space
Close to workspace — not in a separate building or floors away
Reasonable break times — enough to pump and get milk stored and parts cleaned

And what about best in class:
Locking Door — BOTH SIDES
Comfortable Seating
Clear Surfaces
Outlets for pumps
Sink for cleaning pump parts
Refrigerator for keeping milk — separate from general staff fridge
A place where mothers can display images of baby
Personal storage space
snacks and water
sign-up system"

You might also google image search "breastfeeding room" to get more ideas for your space as the rooms shown in the article are amazing but possibly not feasible for all.
posted by stillmoving at 12:30 AM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Would it be possible to call it a parenting room and include say a changing table to bring it slightly more gender neutral and send the message that, for example, dads could bring an infant to work (or indeed, somewhat less likely perhaps, that not all breastfeeders might be comfortable with the label mom)
posted by Iteki at 1:49 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

A lactation room needs to be specifically for pumping. To that note, you need to make it abundantly clear to everyone else that this room is only for pumping and not a convenient place to take personal phone calls. There was nothing that annoyed my wife more than having to take an additional 20 minutes out of her life waiting while someone else used the lactation room not for its intended purpose.
posted by rockindata at 2:44 AM on September 16, 2017 [24 favorites]

Are there office cleaners or others who might need to access the room? If so, be sure to have some kind of sign for the door to make clear when it is in use. Used to make my friend crazy when she was pumping and someone was rattling the locked door.
posted by gudrun at 5:20 AM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

If there is room, I would put in some storage options for parents to keep their own stuff in personal cubbies or drawers. Ikea for example has a range of cheap furniture like this.
A clipboard and pen for requests for further items.
Yes, outlets!
posted by carter at 5:22 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

From my experiences:
- fridge!! Doesn't need to be large, but makes a big, big difference. And sink, obviously.
- make sure the room doesn't get used for other stuff (at my work place, the cleaners started filling the room with containers with paper to be shredded)
- don't include a changing table or any other thing that might make someone need to use the room (semi-)urgently. When pumping, you need time and privacy, and someone waiting outside inpatiently to change a diaper doesn't help.
- a sign on the outside that shows the room is in use, so others don't try to come in.
- comfortable seating can help, but I preferred a chair and a table - as a surface to put my pump and the bottles on, but also my book, as the pumping process is not always entirely handsfree...
posted by Ms. Next at 5:26 AM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Lactation rooms are for expressing breast milk. Diaper changes belong in a bathroom.

Look into putting a code lock on the door so only people who need access can be granted it as needed. The room at my office had two "stations" and curtains hanging from there ceiling you could pull around for privacy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:37 AM on September 16, 2017 [12 favorites]

-Trash can
-A polite explanation to everybody that it is for parents and anyone caught camping it for business calls will be pithed.
posted by nickggully at 6:21 AM on September 16, 2017

Furniture that can be easily wiped clean. I haven't done a lot of expressing so maybe I am inexpert, but I always manage to spray milk across the chairs and table.
posted by kadia_a at 7:25 AM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

In addition to the suggestions above, a true best in class mother's room contains a medical grade pump so she just has to bring her parts kit. In the past this was a huge expense but you could get a Spectra s2 for a couple hundred bucks.

Highly recommend both a code/badge reader on the door as well as a deadbolt. That way only authorized people can get in, and if someone inside needs privacy, nobody can.
posted by potrzebie at 8:07 AM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I feel like a changing table belongs in a bathroom; there's no need to make this a multi-purpose room that men can use as well. There's not a gender equality issue here, this is about fulfilling a biological need that (cis) men don't have. It's also something that our society has decreed must be taken care of privately, and which gets wrapped up in a lot of body-shaming, sexualizing, male-gaze stuff meaning that many women would doubtless be less comfortable with a lactationroom that was designed to be welcoming to men as well. If a room is for nursing and pumping, let it be single-purpose.

Also, changing babies involves dealing with poop and pee and that's what bathrooms are for, so that's where a changing table should go. I realize that parents frequently have to deal with diapers wherever they happen to be at that moment, but a bathroom that's equipped for diaper changes is the best place.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:01 AM on September 16, 2017 [9 favorites]

From what I hear from all the moms I know there's often a bunch of new and exciting aches and pains. Not just soon after birth but ongoing for the whole lactation period. Lots of hormones doing new things, combined with new activities, and tons of added stressors and responsibilities all add up to bad posture and pain and the discomfort of pumping milk just piles onto that. So anyway my suggestion would be a few different seating options so they can choose to sit or recline or prop up their feet or not, as well as a selection of firm bolster and throw pillows in different shapes. That way they can have lumbar support or whatever else they need to take a bit of a load off. And it would go a long way to make it not feel office-y.
posted by Mizu at 9:28 AM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

So the favorite things my company pump room had -

Comfy couches
Lots of outlets
Mini fridge
Spare storage bags (Medela)
Fully stocked medicine cabinet with lansinol, Tylenol, spare nursing pads, etc.
Sink with bottle brushes to allow washing of pump parts.
Cubbies for nursing moms to store their pump bag instead of at their desk

Snacks would be nice too!
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd agree a changing table is unnecessary, but the point that it's necessarily not only going "moms" using this room is nevertheless solid.
posted by teremala at 9:58 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

necessarily not only going "moms" using this room is nevertheless solid

If it's a lactation room, it is necessarily only currently lactating parents. If your point is that some lactating parents may be trans men, that's a reasonable point, but if you're suggesting that the room needs to cater to needs of people other than lactating parents, I think that's off-base.
posted by LizardBreath at 10:09 AM on September 16, 2017 [7 favorites]

Lots of good suggestions above. My company's lactation room also had a little bedside lamp in it so we could keep the overhead fluorescent office lighting off. It was dim and cozy and felt less antiseptic, which was nice since we had to be in there so often.
posted by sestaaak at 10:51 AM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also, hope that conference room has working wifi and a strong signal. God, pumping is boring.
posted by sestaaak at 11:18 AM on September 16, 2017 [11 favorites]

Would it be possible to call it a parenting room and include say a changing table to bring it slightly more gender neutral and send the message that, for example, dads could bring an infant to work (or indeed, somewhat less likely perhaps, that not all breastfeeders might be comfortable with the label mom)

If you are in the US and the employer has more than 50 employees, it should actually really be designated for nursing parents because that is required by the ACA. The problem with designating it a "wellness" room or something for all parents (e.g. a changing table) is that the nursing parent must have priority. A friend of mine's employer made it a more general "wellness" room and folks would go in there and nap, etc. and the actually nursing mother sometimes had to kick folks out of there. At my office, the room locks from the inside and outside and only the nursing mothers have a key.
posted by Pax at 12:36 PM on September 16, 2017

I used lactation rooms at two different jobs. If I could put them together to make a perfect room, they would have:

-A deadbolt
-Controlled access so ONLY lactating women can use it (no no no to any other purpose. when you need to pump, you NEED TO PUMP. It sucks enough without having to stand around waiting for someone to finish their phone call or whatever.)
-A table near the chair where you can easily put down pump parts, full bottles, etc.
-An outlet easily reachable from the chair
-Some storage space for milk (fridge) and for the pump (cubby)
-Good wifi
-A few magazines or something in case I forget my phone
-A sink for washing pump parts

At one job, I shared the room with a few other women. There was a bulletin board where people posted pictures of their babies, and a notebook where people wrote to each other about their kids, their scheduling needs, etc. I didn't use it much, but it was sweet.
posted by juliapangolin at 1:32 PM on September 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

Antiseptic wipes.

(It's so great that you are doing this, I want to cry!)
posted by peppermintfreddo at 3:27 PM on September 16, 2017

Table, comfortable chair. Outlet within very close range to the table. Sink if possible paper towels. Hook and hanger to hang tops while pumping.
posted by sulaine at 5:03 PM on September 16, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips everyone! And you are correct, it is a "lactation room", not a "mom's room" - I just didn't know what term to use. I'll do some searches based on that term now that I know what I am looking for. The one thing I really didn't think about was the extension cords of all things - so that tip in particular was very helpful!
posted by Toddles at 5:44 PM on September 16, 2017

I'd add a selection of pens, markers and stick-on labels for milk bags/bottles.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 7:50 PM on September 16, 2017

Make the room bookable in advance. At my office all rooms have an outlook schedule - this means you can tell if the room should be free and you can also reserve it on a regular schedule if you pump on a regular schedule. BUT you don't need to show who has booked it, just whether or not it is booked.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:15 PM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

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