Health care

Health care jobs are projected to grow 18% through 2026, adding about 2.4 million new jobs, more than any other industry.1 More than 3 out of every 4 people working in health care are women.2 View and share lactation break time and space success stories from health care worksites.

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Lactation break time and space in hospitals and clinics

Finding a lactation space in a health care facility is usually not too difficult. However, in industries where employees often work long hours around the clock, supervisors may need to be flexible in scheduling and accommodating lactation breaks while also ensuring patient safety and well-being. Many health care facilities with hourly employees are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide non-exempt breastfeeding employees with reasonable break time and a private lactation space that is not a bathroom. The Break Time for Nursing Mothers FLSA requirement can be seen on the FLSA minimum wage poster (PDF file, 147 KB) or notice that must be posted in worksites covered by FLSA.

  • Time. Many employees use regular break times and meal periods to pump or express milk. Hourly workers can clock out for lactation breaks if pumping takes longer than standard breaks. For employees whose duties include long procedures, such as complex surgery, the employer will need to plan for adequate coverage or understand when there is downtime in the surgery for a health care provider to take a break. Flexibility on the part of both employer and employee is necessary when a mother is breastfeeding. Supervisors should be aware of the need for lactation breaks if there is unscheduled overtime or extended duty hours.
  • Space. In a large health care facility, finding empty, private exam or patient rooms for employees to express or pump milk should be straightforward. Signs should be provided to ensure that other employees know the room is being used for expressing milk. Some health care workers, such as doctors or nurses, may appreciate having a dedicated lactation space with a hospital computer or phone to use while pumping. Part of a lounge area can be screened off to create privacy. Facilities with an on-site day care center often provide space for direct breastfeeding or expressing milk in the day care center. In a small doctor’s office or clinic, it is not necessary to create a permanent, dedicated lactation space. Employees can use an empty patient exam room, manager’s office, or storage area as a flexible and temporary space. Lactation space must not be in a bathroom. Learn more about what employers need to know about the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law.

Lactation break time and space in health departments

Health departments and public health organizations vary widely in size and facility space. But most public health departments support breastfeeding for all moms in their community, including their employees. Many employers with hourly or government employees are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide non-exempt breastfeeding employees with reasonable break time and a private lactation space that is not a bathroom. This requirement can be seen on the FLSA minimum wage poster (PDF file, 147 KB) or notice that must be posted in worksites covered by FLSA.

  • Time. Many employees use regular break times and meal periods to pump or express milk. In many health departments or clinics, staff are able to cover for each other when lactation breaks are necessary. Some employees are allowed to go home to feed babies directly. Others may not need to track extra break time for pumping or expressing milk.
  • Space. Most public health departments have a permanent, dedicated lactation space or mother’s room. Larger organizations with many sites may use flexible space, such as offices or conference rooms. Smaller organizations often allow a breastfeeding employee to bring her baby to work until the infant is 6 months old. Many departments allow a mother to go home to feed her baby in person. Employees who travel for their job may be provided with a list of community sites with available lactation space. Lactation space must not be in a bathroom. Learn more about what employers need to know about the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law.

Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). Healthcare Occupations. Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Table 11: Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.

Video success stories in health care

Lactation break time and space in a hospital

Supporting Nursing Moms at Work. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D C. At MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D C, breastfeeding employees know they...
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MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. supports breastfeeding mothers with designated milk expression rooms and flexible work schedules.

Lactation break time and space in a health department

Supporting Nursing Moms at Work. Tarrant County Health Department, Fort Worth, Texas.
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Tarrant County Health Department in Texas supports breastfeeding moms with a variety of solutions, including milk expression rooms and flexible schedules.

How to support breastfeeding moms in large companies

Supporting Nursing Moms at Work. How to support nursing women in large companies. Large companies across the country have found many solutions to support nursing women in the workplace.
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Breastfeeding women in large companies have many options for expressing milk at work. Several large companies give their solutions for how to make it work.

How to support breastfeeding moms in small businesses

Supporting Nursing Moms at Work. How to support nursing women in small businesses. Small companies of all types use creative solutions to support nursing women in the workplace.
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Breastfeeding women in small businesses have many creative options for managing breastfeeding needs at work. Several small companies share their solutions.

Space solutions for all industries

Supporting Nursing Moms at Work. Space solutions for nursing mothers at work. When nursing mothers return to work from maternity leave, they need an area that is not a bathroom to express milk during their work period.
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Breastfeeding women in hourly jobs have many solutions for private space to express milk at work. Several companies showcase their creative options.