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Home » Home Furnishings » Nursing Stations

Nursing Stations

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What is a Lactation Pod?

Returning to work after maternity leave can be emotionally challenging for new mothers, and the stress of pumping at work can make things even more difficult. Fortunately, workplaces and corporate offices can make the transition easier for nursing mothers by providing a lactation pod. The lactation pod design should include everything necessary to make the experience easy and comfortable for the nursing parent. 

Lactation Pod Design 

  1. Privacy
  2. Electrical Outlet
  3. Comfortable Seating
  4. Table or Countertop
  5. Calming Decor
  6. Garbage Can
  7. Basic Cleaning Supplies 
Designating a nursing station for moms is not only morally significant, but it’s also federal law for certain companies. Plus, it’s statically shown that providing a lactation room or nursing pod benefits the entire of the workplace. Rather than designating a whole room or building an addition for this important space, why not use a lactation pod that’s already meant for this exact purpose? 

What is a Lactation Pod?

A lactation pod is a prefabricated, portable structure designed for nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump breastmilk in a private space. 

Lactation pods come standard with specific accessories to ensure the nursing mother has everything she needs. This includes a comfortable bench, an electrical outlet, a metal coat hook, and a fold-down shelf for a breast pump, bottles, or bags. The space is large enough for a stroller, a large bag, and additional children. All interior surfaces in the lactation pod are made of food service-grade materials for easy cleaning and sanitation. 

Rustica’s lactation pod has a warm and welcoming aesthetic, so the working mom can sit in a quiet, relaxing space while she pumps. For privacy, it’s complete with a modern glass door with obscured glass.
The value of investing in a portable lactation pod is that it comes prefabricated, so you don’t have to modify a building or office space with new construction. A lactation pod in an office or workspace also means that the company doesn’t have to reallocate an existing room as a lactation room, saving on space and resources. 

The greatest benefit of a lactation pod is the increased flexibility it offers. It can be moved to a new location if needed, and its smaller size makes it an easy fit for a wide range of spaces. New construction is costly and time intensive, whereas a lactation pod comes prefabricated and ready to use. It may be an investment upfront, but it will ultimately save the company time, space, and resources.  

Why is Creating a Nursing Space Important?

A designated nursing pod greatly benefits the work environment for several reasons. Most importantly, it makes the transition back to work for nursing mothers that much easier. After maternity leave, most breastfeeding mothers intend to continue to breastfeed their babies. They can do this by pumping their milk at work, which can be used to feed to the baby while they’re away. 

Companies can show that they appreciate and value working moms by providing a designated lactation room or nursing pod. This allows the nursing parent privacy while providing a comforting, relaxing space to pump. When a company shows that they care about their employees who are mothers, it shows all workers that the company values and cares for them. This has the overall benefit of increasing employee morale. Employees who feel valued are more motivated to work efficiently and do well at their jobs. 

It’s also shown that working moms who can continue to provide breastmilk to their children have fewer absent days from work due to being sick or their child being sick. Breastfed babies and breastfeeding mothers are shown to have higher immune systems; thus, they are less likely to get sick. If the baby does get sick, studies show that they recover much faster due to their mother’s immune-boosting breastmilk. 

Lastly, it’s legally required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Nursing Mothers Act (Pump Act) that companies provide a designated lactation room or pod. According to these laws, all employees covered by the FLSA, regardless of the size of their business, are required to comply with this provision. However, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirement if the employer can demonstrate that compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. 

The Pump Act states that employers are required to designate a nursing station, room, or pod for working moms to express milk, and provide a reasonable break time to do so. This designated lactation space cannot be a bathroom, and it must be shielded from view and free from intrusions by coworkers or the public. This designated space comes with further lactation room requirements, including lactation room signage. Furthermore, as a public accommodation, the space must also meet ADA compliance, which regulates the accessibility of the room or pod for those with disabilities. 

7 Things to Include in Your Company Lactation Pod Design

Along with proper lactation room signage and space, the following lactation space design elements should be included to ensure the nursing mom is comfortable and that the space legally complies with the FLSA. If there’s any confusion or concerns about additional resources you might need for your lactation station, consider reaching out to a public safety member, a lactation consultant, or someone in the health care profession.  

1. Privacy 

The most important design feature your lactation pod or room must have is privacy. When pumping, it’s best for the mother to feel relaxed and comfortable and not worry about others seeing or interrupting her. This means it must be a closed-off space with either a door or curtain so she is not visible to coworkers or customers.  

To ensure the employee is not interrupted while pumping, the lactation pod’s door needs proper signage that shows the room is in use. The company may also add a lock to the door for additional privacy. 
Rustica’s lactation pod certainly has this feature as an enclosed, personal space for the nursing parent. Due to the variance of needs and regulations, however, Rustica’s lactation and nursing stations do not include a locking mechanism. 

2. Electrical Outlet 

A nursing station must also include one or more electrical outlets—ideally more than one. A lactation pod needs electricity and an electrical outlet so that the nursing mom can plug in her breastfeeding pump. 

Along with an outlet for the breast pump, it’s preferred to have an additional outlet for the mother to plug in her phone or laptop while pumping. This extra outlet allows for more flexibility within the lactation station. Plus, another outlet could be a plug-in for an optional speaker, in which the working mom can play music or white noise to create a more peaceful environment. 

You’ll also want to consider the location of the outlet in comparison to the bench or chair where the mother will be using her breast pump. You want to ensure that there’s easy access to the electrical outlet and that it’s close to where she’ll be sitting.

3. Comfortable Seating

Comfortable seating is a clear necessity for a lactation space design. This can be in the form of a comfortable bench or a comfortable chair. 

You’ll want this seating to be as relaxing as possible so that the employee can be comfortable during her lactation breaks. Consider adding a soft cushion and cushioned back to the bench seating or chair. 

For easy access, you’ll want to consider the location of the chair or bench in relation to the electrical outlet and small table or shelf. This way, the mother has easy access to everything she needs. All these nursing design considerations are included in Rustica’s lactation pods. 

4. Table or Countertop

As a working mom is pumping her breast milk, she’ll need a flat surface to set her pump, bag, laptop, or phone. That’s why it’s important to include a small table or countertop in the lactation pod or nursing room. 

You’ll want the surface of the countertop or table to be smooth and easy to wipe down. The countertop or table should also be made out of food service-grade materials to ensure a sanitary and easy-to-clean environment. 

To fully incorporate everything a nursing mother might need, consider adding a sink (complete with soap and paper towels) to the countertop to rinse out pump parts when the employee is done pumping. Designing a sink in the lactation space means the employee won’t have to rinse, clean, and dry her pump pieces in the employee's shared kitchen or breakroom. 

Some pump devices can be steam cleaned using a microwave. So, if a sink is out of the question for your company’s lactation pod, consider placing a small microwave on the countertop for the employee to use. 

5. Calming Decor 

The aesthetic of the lactation room or pod should be warm and welcoming. The goal is to create an environment that is as relaxing as possible for the breastfeeding mother. 

To make the space even cozier, consider adding calming decor. This can take many forms, such as a small potted plant, pretty painting, or even a cozy blanket.    

If you want to create a more personal space, you might also allow breastfeeding employees to put up their own pictures, such as a picture of their child or something that makes them feel grounded and at ease. 

6. Garbage Can

Underneath the table or countertop, you’ll want a small garbage can for the nursing employee to use. This garbage can be helpful for disposing of dirty wipes after the employee has cleaned the countertop or whatever else she needs to throw away while using the lactation pod. 

Ideally, the garbage can should be discreet and have a lid. This way, it isn’t a distracting or foul-smelling presence in the room. It should also be changed often to keep the space fresh and clean. 

7. Basic Cleaning Supplies 

The last necessity to incorporate into your lactation space is basic cleaning supplies, including paper towels, disinfectant spray or anti-bacterial wipes, and all-purpose cleaner. 

These cleaning supplies can be used after the mother is done pumping to wipe the countertop clean in case any breastmilk is spilled. Having these supplies on hand also brings comfort to the nursing mom, as she can disinfect the counters to ensure she’s pumping in a sanitary environment. 

How to Request a Lactation Pod at Work

It can certainly be intimidating to ask your boss for a designated space to express breastmilk, even though it is fully in your right to do so. Because of the vulnerable (yet necessary) nature of this topic, we’ve provided a few helpful tips to guide you in requesting a lactation pod at work.

1. Know Your Rights

As mentioned above, it is legally required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Nursing Mothers Act (Pump Act) for employers to provide a safe and private room for breastfeeding employees to express their milk, and a reasonable amount of time to do so. This space must meet specific requirements set forth by the Pump Act, which Rustica’s lactation pod meets.

Your employer may not be aware of the Pump Act, considering it’s a newer policy, so it’s important to bring it to their attention as part of your request. You’ll also want to research state laws for nursing mothers in the workforce, as each state may differ in their protection.

By fully understanding your rights as a nursing parent, you can be confident in your request and know that the law is on your side.

2. Write Down the Benefits

Even though it’s legally required for companies to provide a private lactation room for nursing employees, it’s possible to meet some resistance to this request. To help avoid unnecessary tension, it’s important to compile the benefits of a lactation pod for your employer to read.

Some of the benefits of a lactation pod include lower absences, healthier nursing employees, healthier babies, and overall increased employee morale, as outlined above. Plus, a lactation pod provides privacy and a designated pumping space, which can help breastfeeding mothers feel safe in the workspace. A lactation pod can also prevent other employees from becoming distracted by a nursing pump, and prevent the breastfeeding employee from unwanted attention.

By outlining these benefits to your employer, you can help them realize that a lactation pod or room not only benefits you, but also the whole company and any future breastfeeding employees.

3. Outline Your Needs

Employers don't always know what a nursing employee needs, which is why it’s incredibly helpful to outline them in your request for a lactation pod.

Perhaps the most important point in this outline is that you need a safe space to express milk. Emphasize to your employer that by providing a safe space to pump, you are meeting the needs of your body and, most importantly, your baby’s needs.

In your request, you should include how much time you will need to pump in a single setting. Explain how many times a day you will need a break to pump to maintain your milk supply. Ideally, you should make these requests and outline your needs before you return to work from maternity leave. That way, your employer has enough time to make the necessary arrangements for a lactation space.

If your workplace doesn’t already have a designated lactation room, mention to your employer that a lactation pod, such as the one designed by Rustica, has all the necessities a nursing mother needs. These necessities include privacy, an electrical outlet, comfortable bench sitting, and shelving.

4. Gather Support

If there are other working moms  in your office, it can be helpful to have their support in requesting a lactation pod for your workspace. If there are employees who had to pump in the past, ask them about their experience and what would have made it better for them.

In your request letter, you can include their stories (if they permit it) to show that a lactation pod is necessary for the comfort and safety of lactating moms. Perhaps your letter becomes a petition, and your coworkers can contribute their signatures to support a private room to express breastmilk.

It’s also beneficial to reach out to your HR department if your workplace has one. They are legally required to support your right to have a safe and private space to express milk.

5. Brainstorm Solutions

Employers may have concerns or cautions when presented with the need for a lactation pod. It’s best to expect that these might come up, and be willing to participate in brainstorming solutions together.

Show your employer that you respect and honor their concerns while still staying true to your needs. Be willing to work with them by answering questions and being clear about what you expect from them.

Work with your human resource department (if you have one) to address any problems your employer may have with allocating a room for lactation.

Design a Nursing Pod for Your Office Today!

Because designated lactation rooms are federally required, it’s essential to have one in your modern office. But you don’t have to build a new room or designate an existing one as a nursing station. You can make things easy for the company by providing a modern, portable lactation pod with all the necessary design elements listed above. 

Whether your office is on the 2nd floor or 100th floor, a portable nursing station can fit into the space you have available. Plus, providing a safe, private space for mothers returning to work shows that you value and care for your employees, which is one of the most important things you can do as a company. 

Contact Rustica’s design team if you’re ready to design and order a portable lactation pod for your office today! 

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