A project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Skip Navigation

Womens Health logo
En Español
divider line

Flexible Space

A tall wood screen consisting of two sections shields the corner of a room. Large photos of a nursing infant cover each side of the screen.

A business may have only occasional need for space to accommodate nursing mothers at work. Businesses have used a variety of flexible spaces such as available offices, conference rooms, rest or break rooms, and other spaces. Employees and supervisors should work together to arrange scheduling and use of flexible spaces. In the absence of a permanent dedicated milk expression room, a policy or clear communication will help nursing moms know they will be supported.

See Examples of Flexible Space

How to Make It Work:


Select a flexible space near the employee's work station to minimize the time needed to get to the space. A space near running water also enables women to wash their hands and their breast pump parts.


Minimum amenities are a chair and a flat surface such as a desk or small table for the breast pump. Look for flexible space with an electrical outlet or ability to be wired for electricity to operate the breast pump.


Flexible space such as a manager's office may have the ability to be locked. Areas such as storage rooms may not. If the space cannot be locked, protect the privacy of nursing moms with signage and a well-communicated policy. This informs other workers when the space is in use.

Breast Pumps

Businesses with only occasional needs for supporting nursing mothers may not find it cost-effective to provide multi-user breast pumps. Women can ask a lactation consultant for recommendations on the best type of breast pump to use when they return to work.

Scheduling Options

Scheduling is important when the space will also be used for other purposes. Many businesses allow nursing moms to have priority over use of the space. When sharing space with the manager's office or the office of a co-worker, clear communication will help alleviate scheduling concerns.

Content last updated June 19, 2014.

Resources last updated April 15, 2014.


Return to top