“A place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public,” is the requirement for employers, set by the Affordable Care Act in 2010. While it’s a great start, the reality is, dedicated mothering room spaces are often hard to come by and most are makeshift, cold, and leaving much to be desired. (We’ve seen a few too many bathroom stalls and closets from where moms pump.)
We think we can do better than that when it comes to lactation rooms, and we know some companies who are. After all, it doesn’t take much to elevate your pumping room. A few thoughtful touches - a soothing coat of paint, a comfortable chair, or even a lamp - can change a sterile space into a warmer one -- one that helps moms to relax, produce more milk, and be more productive at work.
Here’s a few tips for transforming your pump room:
1. Think ‘lounge’ vs. ‘lactation’. Treat the room like a room, not a pumping space. Choose a chair you want to sink into, or take a cue from Amy’s Kitchen and opt for a full couch. Add a footstool (since putting feet up may help milk production). Then embellish with a rug, a nice lamp, and other touches that make it feel less like a place to express milk and more like a place to escape.
2. Set the mood. Paint the walls a soothing color to create a relaxing feel. Try blue, which helps to calm the mind and reduce tension (key to milk letdown) or this blue-grey, which evokes the “quietness of a rainy day,” according to Paul Corrie, and can turn any room “into a refuge.” Hang art that gets the milk flowing: think water drops, or smiling babies. Patagonia, for example, has a kayaker in rippling water adorning their pump space.
3. Soften it up. Throw a sheepskin over the chair. Add a few pillows of different thickness for back support and to help moms remain comfortably upright. Work in a few lamps to counter bright lighting or install dimmable lights. Hang curtains for privacy and to make the space feel more personal, and include a soft blanket if the room is cold.
4. Surprise and delight. Think outside the box when thinking of the essentials. Moms need a place to put their pump or computer while pumping, so choose a nightstand or a vintage tv tray versus a workplace side table. Opt for a colorful fridge. “Stocking the refrigerator with water and snacks for these busy moms would be extremely helpful as well,” says doula Darcy Sauers. Even small details like a bottle drying rack next to the sink or an electric kettle to make mother’s milk tea can put moms more at ease while they pump, which can actually make the pumping session more efficient and therefore quicker.
5. Create connection. If your mothering room supports multiple mothers, make it easy for them to share and connect. Add some creative storage baskets and bins, with labels, so that every mom has a space to store her pump. Hang a bulletin board to encourage communication and information sharing, or create a “wall of wee ones”, with a space for each mom to hang a photo of her baby -- icing on the cake for everyone since seeing your baby helps with milk flow.
With a little color and light you can make any space to pump more pleasing, and please many moms in the meantime.
Share your spot and find more places to pump worth celebrating over at pumpspotting.
Image courtesy of Milk It Kit.