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Health Care

Hospitals and health care organizations are major employers of women in most communities. Hospitals employ women as hourly workers, nurses, clerical staff, housekeeping staff, physicians, technicians, and in other jobs. Other constituents to consider are patients, visitors, and contractors. A variety of space options provide permanent, dedicated space for breastfeeding women. Smaller health departments and clinics often find that flexible spaces are more useful.

Large hospitals may need multiple permanent milk expression spaces in several key locations. Private spaces near the emergency room or operating room accommodate busy physicians and nursing staff who are breastfeeding mothers. Multi-user rooms can accommodate several employees expressing milk at the same time.

While regular breaks are often used to express milk, staff coverage to assure patient safety and well-being must be addressed. Common solutions include coverage by floater staff, managers/supervisors, and other staff.

Feature Slides

  • Video: MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, a large city hospital, proves that support for breastfeeding nurses, staff, and visitors can work.

  • Video: A large public health system in Tarrant County provides support for all breastfeeding employees and their family members.

  • A county health department developed a milk expression/breastfeeding room with amenities to help create a homelike environment.

  • Many hospitals convert a patient room in a quiet area into a milk expression room.

  • An on-site child care facility for hospital employees provides private areas for quiet feeding of the infant during work hours.

  • One hospital retrofitted its nursery into a lactation suite for employees. The nursery was no longer needed when the hospital adopted the evidence-based practices of the "Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative," which requires that mothers and babies remain together.

  • Multi-user space is created with curtains that separate the room into smaller individual stations.

  • Amenities such as a sink with running water and decorative touches help make permanent rooms warm and inviting.

  • A single-user restroom was retrofitted to a milk expression space by removing the toilet and adding a chair and other amenities.

  • At many hospitals, staff lactation consultants provide free consultations for employees. Lactation consultants often teach classes, manage an employee breast pump program, and provide one-on-one care for employees during and after maternity leave.

  • Many hospitals provide multi-user electric breast pumps within the lactation space for multiple users.

  • When milk expression rooms are used by physicians and other professionals, they may request that communication amenities be included.

  • Some hospitals have a breastfeeding retail store within the facility to provide breast pumps, pump kits, and other supplies for breastfeeding mothers. These supplies may be offered at cost to employees.

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Space Solutions

  • Permanent dedicated space
    • Patient room
    • Office area
    • Corner of another room
    • Treatment room
    • Corner of a staff sleeping room
    • Converted storage area or closet
    • Converted ladies' lounge area
    • Converted nursery
    • Enclosed area of unused space
    • Small office area
  • Flexible space
    • Supervisor's office
    • Conference room
    • Exam or patient room
    • Dividers within a larger room or space
    • Patient interview room
    • Physician lounge
    • Corner of a staff sleeping room

Time Solutions

  • Employees take usual break and meal periods to express milk
  • Employees schedule breaks to assure patient coverage
  • Floater staff provide relief when nursing women take breaks to express milk
  • Administrative staff and co-workers provide coverage as needed
  • Employees take breaks during slower periods, such as after immediate patient needs are met

Other Solutions

  • Multi-user electric breast pumps provided in employee milk expression areas
  • Rotating pumps bolted to rolling pump stands issued to women working in remote areas of a large hospital
  • Employee stores her milk in a personal cooler or insulated lunch bag
  • Employee goes home or to the child care provider to feed the baby
  • Child care provider brings the baby to the employee for feedings
  • Staff lactation consultants provide free consultations to employees
  • Classes for working mothers offered as part of the hospital patient education series, with employees invited to attend
  • Lactation space included as part of newly constructed/renovated buildings and areas

Business Examples

Health Care Agencies

Health Departments - City/Local

Health Departments - County

Health Departments - State

Hospitals - Children's Hospitals

Hospitals - Large (>2,500 employees)

Hospitals - Systems/Networks

Hospitals - Teaching


Hospitals - Small/Community (<2,500 employees)

Content last updated August 04, 2014.

Resources last updated April 15, 2014.


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