We recently asked 790 moms about pumping breastmilk at work.
When we asked them how they felt about pumping in general, over 54% of moms said they disliked it.
These are the top 4 things that would make pumping at work easier and help moms reach their pumping/breastfeeding goals:
1) A less stressful work environment
2) A supportive boss and colleagues
3) A nicer pumping space
4) Pump-friendly clothing
What are the top things mothers want in a pumping space?
1) A COMFY CHAIR: Almost all of the moms wanted a comfortable armchair. And next to that chair a table for the pump.
2) A REFRIGERATOR: A fridge came close second for milk storage. Sharing the common fridge with the rest of the office isn't ideal as there were complaints of milk spills, space issues.
3) ELECTRICAL OUTLETS: Most moms these days use electric pumps, so outlets are a must, and if they're not near where a mom pumps, an extension cord helps.
4) PRIVACY: Privacy is key for a stress-free pump break. Most moms wanted an internal lock on the door and if there was a space designated for multiple moms, privacy screens would help. Curtains and blinds were also a common answer.
5) A SINK/COUNTER: A place to properly clean pump supplies was key for most moms. And tissues and paper towels were also helpful.
6) A HOSPITAL GRADE PUMP: If moms only had to bring their smaller pump parts to work they'd be happier.
7) LOCKERS/STORAGE SPACE: Not every working mom has her own office so it is important to have a cubby/storage space to keep pump & parts.
8) A "DO NOT DISTURB" SIGN: Pretty easy to supply and very effective.
9) A WORK STATION: For employees that want/need to keep working during pump breaks, a desk, wifi and PC were also important.
10) A MIRROR: Who wants to go back to work with their boob popping out or with a milk stain they hadn't noticed?
11) HEAT OR AC: If the space where moms pump is in a file closet or another space that doesn't have climate control, a fan or space heater is a must.
12) EXTRAS: Although the following weren't considered essential, they definitely didn't hurt: water bottles, snacks, magazines, TV, music, dim lighting, inspirational quotes and photos of their babies.
There are many ways companies and bosses can be supportive. Providing even just a few of the things above goes a long way in terms of employee loyalty & retention.
As for pump-friendly clothing, more and more brands like Teat & Cosset are starting to provide breastfeeding/pumping friendly pieces that are appropriate for work. There is no reason a mother should have to disrobe to pump.
Why should companies support moms who pump at work:
1) Lower Absenteeism: One-day absences to care for sick children occur more than twice as often for mothers of formula-fed infants.(a)
2) Keeping Valuable Employees: Employee turnover is costly for companies. Helping employees balance family and work can positively impact retention rates. A study of multiple companies with lactation support programs found an average retention rate of 94%. (b)
3) Positive PR: Company breastfeeding programs may help employers build goodwill within the community. In addition, any recognition given to breastfeeding-friendly worksites can be valuable because it gives businesses a competitive advantage when recruiting and retaining employees.
a. Cohen R, Mrtek MB, Mrtek RG. Comparison of maternal absenteeism and infant illness rates among breastfeeding and formula-feeding women in two corporations. American Journal of Health Promotion.1995;10(2),148-153.
b. Ortiz J, McGilligan K, Kelly P. Duration of breast milk expression among working mothers enrolled in an employer-sponsored lactation program. Pediatric Nursing. 2004;30(2):111-119.