How to Support Breastfeeding Parents at Work

One of the many benefits that came out of working remotely during the pandemic was making it easier for new moms to breastfeed. In fact, studies show that approximately 40% of women now have an increased commitment to providing breast milk to their infants and 25% are breastfeeding or pumping more now than before the pandemic.

However, with many companies now being back to working in a hybrid or fully in-person environment, it’s critical for breastfeeding parents to have the same ease feeding or pumping in the workplace as they do at home.

In this blog post, we share the benefits of supporting breastfeeding parents in the workplace and tips for improving the support you provide.


What Are the Benefits of Accommodating Breastfeeding Parents?

Supporting breastfeeding parents is as beneficial to the employer as it is to the employee. In addition to the health and bonding benefits that a parent receives, take a look at these stats, according to the Office on Women’s Health.

Higher Retention Rates

Employees want to work at a place where they feel valued and supported. In recent studies, it was shown that companies who accommodate breastfeeding parents in the workplace receive more loyalty and productivity from those parents. Additionally, these studies have shown that women who work for companies that support breastfeeding parents are more likely to return from maternity leave and even come back from leave earlier than expected. The national average of new parents who return to work after leave is only 59% while a study of five different corporations with lactation support programs showed that 94% of their employees returned to the company.

Lower Healthcare Costs

Research has shown that both the parent and the baby receive health benefits from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is known to reduce the risk of breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Healthier parents and babies means lower healthcare and insurance costs for the companies who provide those benefits.

Decreased Sick Time

Companies who support breastfeeding parents have seen a decrease in sick time from those employees. This is because breastfed babies are often healthier, so they’re less likely to get sick and parents are less likely to miss work. Spending more time in the office or at work can lead to increased productivity and can prevent the use of more resources to accommodate employees who are out sick.


There’s always room for improvement when it comes to your organization’s breastfeeding support plans. Whether you have no plans in place or you have a policy that needs some finetuning, these tips will share how you can make your support even stronger.

Issue a Written Lactation Support Policy

Without a written plan, it can be difficult to know the rights and requirements of both the employee and the employer. According to the Office on Women’s Health, “a policy clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of both supervisors and employees, potentially helping them avoid embarrassment about discussing a personal topic.” A policy guarantees that a company is complying with federal regulations while providing the accommodations that their employees and their families deserve.

Additionally, a written document helps to remove any gray areas. This makes it easy for employers to know exactly what’s expected of them as well as what employees can be expected to receive. The implementation of a policy can often influence whether or not breastfeeding mothers return to work after maternity leave. If they know they’ll receive amazing support once they return, they’ll be more inclined to stay. On the other hand, if they know there won’t be much support available, they may be influenced to look for another position.

A great lactation support policy involves other staff members, too. These guidelines help provide education to other employees on the importance of supporting their coworkers who are breastfeeding and providing them with privacy.

Show Your Support Through Verbal Communication and Groups

Although it’s rewarding, parenting can sometimes feel isolating, especially for the individuals who are new parents. It’s critical to “walk the walk” when it comes to standing beside your employees by openly talking about your support for breastfeeding in the workplace and making it less of a “taboo” subject within conversations. This includes respecting their feeding choices and preventing them from feeling “guilty” when they need to step away to feed.

Providing peer support programs, as Harvard Business Review recommends, is also a great way for parents to connect with others who truly “get it.” They’re able to ask advice, find common interests, and share helpful parenting tips. These groups help to build a sense of trust and care, which leads to overall job satisfaction, higher levels of engagement, increased productivity, and lower turnover rates, according to ReWorking.

Provide a Private Breastfeeding Space and Amenities

Providing a space where your employees can breastfeed goes well beyond ushering them into the employee bathrooms or a utility closet. As explained by the University of Michigan, this designated spot should be out of view from the public and exclusive to breastfeeding parents, allowing them to have a safe and private space.

Additionally, offering amenities that will make breastfeeding easier for your employees is not only appreciated but expected. Forbes suggests providing:

  • A refrigerator for storing freshly expressed milk
  • Microwaves and sinks for cleaning and sterilizing
  • Comfy chairs or couches for sitting
  • Tables and outlets for placing and plugging in equipment
  • Hospital grade pumps for convenience, rather than bringing pumps from home
  • Snacks and water for fueling and nourishing

Having these products on-site will allow your employees to feel at ease and comfortable during their feeding and pumping times.

Allow for Longer Breaks

A mandated 30-minute break likely isn’t enough time for breastfeeding parents to express milk, enjoy their lunch, and recharge. Lactation breaks may need to happen several times per day, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, and could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes between setting up the equipment, pumping, and then cleaning up.

Rather than limiting your breastfeeding employees to a certain amount of time for their breaks, be flexible. Trust that their breaks won’t affect the quality or completion of their work, regardless of how much time they need to take and how often they need to go on break. When your employees don’t feel as though they’re under strict time constraints, they’ll be less stressed and won’t feel rushed to get through their pumping.


Be Vocal with Your Support

Advocacy is one part of our three-fold mission here at MomUp. We partner with local and state organizations to address issues of paid leave, child care, the wage gap, and more. Through our work, we will always speak up when it comes to helping companies advance and succeed by partnering with them to address issues of gender diversity and gender equity.

Contact us to learn more about our advocacy work.