Subscribe to Breastfeeding email updates.
A growing number of businesses make it possible for nursing mothers to breastfeed their infant during the workday. This can be a solution for businesses with limited space to express milk.
Options for direct access to the baby at work include the caregiver bringing the baby to the employee for feedings, telework, and having the baby at work full-time. Businesses that accommodate direct access to babies report that employees and their babies are happier and more satisfied. Women also report that their milk production is higher.
Employers and employees should identify clear mutual responsibilities. This helps prevent misunderstandings about expectations. For example, employees may have the baby in the workplace either for feedings or full-time. They should assume full responsibility and not expect other employees to care for the baby at work. A mother should not bring a sick child to work with her. Employees who leave the work premises to feed the baby should have agreed-upon time limits with the supervisor. Sample responsibilities and other implementation information and assistance are available at the Parenting in the Workplace Institute at www.babiesatwork.org.
Some businesses ask employees to sign a release form when babies remain with the mother at the workplace. Sample release forms are available from Parenting in the Workplace Institute. Liability insurance is also an option when the baby is at work full-time. Some companies ask that mothers who choose to have their baby at work contribute the equivalent of a week's child care expenses to help pay for the insurance premium.
Breastfeeding is a temporary need for employees and their infants. Direct access for feedings may be needed for a few weeks up to a few months. Time will depend on the needs of the business and the employee. Most companies suggest a limit of 6-12 months for babies at work full-time, or until the baby becomes more active. Some businesses have formal or structured guidance to clarify responsibilities.
An employee who has her baby with her at work may need privacy for breastfeeding. Some mothers are comfortable nursing in front of others. Others prefer privacy. A company with concerns about nursing in front of customers or colleagues may arrange for privacy. The employee's private office, a conference room, or nursing the baby in a sling or cover-up can provide needed privacy.
Some companies provide a space for a mother to express milk at work, even when she is directly feeding her baby. The infant may be unable to come to work on a particular day. The mother may have activities at work that prevent access to her baby. The milk expression area can be enhanced to include a changing table and supplies to accommodate baby care.
Content last updated June 20, 2014.
Resources last updated April 15, 2014.