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Beyond support, what moms need most when going back to work while breastfeeding is a space to pump. One that’s clean, private and, at the very minimum, equipped with a place to sit and an outlet.

“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.)

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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.

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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