Have you seen the If Men Breastfed video ad by Naya? It’s hilarious. I wish I’d been on the creative team who worked on this campaign because I can only imagine the fun they had in their brainstorming meetings!
A look into a “Man’s Lactation Room” in Naya’s recent ad.
But it expresses a sad truth. Some employers do the bare minimum when it comes to lactation spaces.
After all, why would they want to invest in something such a small portion of their employee base uses at any given time?
Well, we know that companies with female representation in leadership outperform the competition. However, businesses are losing 17% of their women mid-career. This puts savvy companies in a tough predicament. How do they attract and retain female talent so they can maintain their competitive edge?
Family-friendliness has a strong tie to a mother’s satisfaction in the workforce. And there’s no better time to demonstrate your commitment to family than when your female employee first starts her journey in motherhood.
For the more than 80% of mothers who are breastfeeding, creating an outstanding lactation space is an excellent way to ease their transition back into the workforce. Not only will this make your working moms happier — it will also help them be more productive and will make them more committed to your brand.
Not convinced yet? Let me give you a real-world anecdote.
My son drinks six ounces of milk every three hours. I’ve chosen to breastfeed him for a number of reasons, but one key factor is that he has MSPI and his specialty formula is upwards of $600 a month. Ouch!
Some days I can pump four ounces in 10 minutes. Other days I’m lucky to get two and a half in 30. My diet, mood and health are all factors. But so is my environment.
An ideal lactation space will (1) put the mother at ease so she can relax and lactate effectively and (2) consolidate resources she’ll need in one convenient space. You don’t want your moms running to the bathroom, then the kitchen, then back to the pumping room. The more efficient her pumping session, the quicker she’s getting back to work. It’s a win-win for everyone!
If you want to see where the bar is at, you can check out the most impressive lactation rooms in the country. But while those rooms are incredible, you don’t have to go that far.
Below are 8 things your lactation room needs to win favor with your breastfeeding employees.
- Comfortable seating: The more relaxed a mom is, the more efficient her session is likely to be, so a comfy chair is a must. Select a covering that is waterproof or can be easily cleaned.
- Practical table: Choose a table that sits higher than the cushion of the seating area. Your working mother will need easy access to her breast pump controls. Coffee tables may be cute, but they’re not as functional for this purpose.
- Cleaning supplies: Spills happen and germs spread. If you have more than one mom using this space, having cleaning supplies handy is particularly important.
- Small space heater: If your office policy allows it, a small heater can make a mom much more comfortable in a frigid office environment. While I didn’t expect one, I was so pleasantly surprised to find a remote controlled space heater in my employer’s lactation room when I returned from leave. (See? I still remember it… building brand loyalty!)
- Refrigerator: A small refrigerator will save an employee the discomfort of having to hide her expressed milk in the common kitchen area. And it will keep the milk safe from the dangers of tampering and temperature changes.
But also, there’s nothing more awkward than a coworker trying to make small talk— “what do you have there?” “Breast milk.” Exit left…
- Mirror: I always worry about looking a little disheveled as I leave the lactation room, especially if I’m headed straight to an important meeting. I try to check myself in the camera on my phone but it’s not always sufficient. Whether your lactation room is temporary or permanent, consider adding a basic mirror on the wall.
- Sink: This is a luxury not every business can provide, but a sink within the room itself can offer significant privacy and convenience.
If you can’t swing a sink, provide some hand sanitizer. I’ll never forget the day I walked out of a lactation room and someone was just waiting for me so they could introduce me to a customer. My hands were sticky. They both knew where I’d just been. Horrifying!
- Outlook access: Particularly when multiple moms are sharing a lactation room, it’s important to make sure they can schedule their breaks. If a mom unexpectedly finds the lactation room is unavailable, it may wreak havoc on her schedule, particularly if her calendar is full of meetings. Alleviate this burden by enabling moms to book the lactation room like they would any other meeting space.
Managers and HR representatives, what questions would you like to ask moms?
Breastfeeding moms, what else do you wish for your employer knew about your needs?