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Traditional permanent or flexible milk expression "rooms" are often not possible for workers stationed primarily in outdoor settings, such as agriculture, construction, and travel. Pop-up tents, mobile options, or space in nearby buildings create solutions for flexible, portable options. Other needs such as access to water should also be considered.
Select a mobile space near the main working station of employees when possible. Nearby access to water is also helpful for washing hands and breast pump parts. Many companies with outdoor workers provide portable hand-washing systems. If this is not possible, the employer can allow women extra break time to get to a water source.
The space should be large enough to accommodate a chair and a flat surface such as a small table for the breast pump and other supplies.
Minimum amenities are a chair and a small table or flat surface for the employee's breast pump or supplies. Other amenities commonly used in permanent, dedicated rooms (such as refrigerators, artwork, and a sink with running water) are usually not possible in a mobile space.
Portable or mobile spaces might need additional privacy options. Some mobile devices have unique features that allow privacy. For example, a pop-up tent may be able to be zipped closed. A portable lactation station is locked from the inside. The cab of a vehicle can be made private with windshield visors. Businesses can protect the privacy of nursing mothers with signage and a well-communicated policy. This informs other workers that the space is in use and the employee's needs should be respected.
Women using an electric breast pump will need access to electricity. If an extension cord or electrical wiring is not possible in a mobile space, consider allowing women to use a vehicle and its power source. Some companies provide a personal use breast pump that is powered with a car battery. Allow extra break time if mothers must use a manual pump or express milk by hand. It takes twice as long to express milk one breast at a time.
Mothers can keep their milk fresh in a small cooler with ice packs if standard refrigeration is not available nearby.
Extreme heat or cold makes expressing milk outdoors more difficult. Employers should make arrangements for indoor solutions for milk expression during months with extreme weather conditions to keep women safe and comfortable.
Content last updated June 19, 2014.
Resources last updated April 15, 2014.