For women who work, breastfeeding almost always means pumping. And pumping at work can really suck.
I first came to 47 Maple Street in 1995, two years after I graduated from the University of Vermont, and a month after JDK Design moved in to the building now called The Karma Bird House. At the time, only the top floor was completely built out, and the rest was extremely rough warehouse space. It took Michael and Giovanna Jager’s vision, will power, and years of hard work to finish the space.
Moms might be the busiest people around. And for breastfeeding mamas, this means pumping at work or on the go. Making time to pump on a schedule and finding the right place to plug in are both challenging. But another challenge is getting your mind and body into the right space for let-down when you’re away from your baby. We created a playlist, “Sounds For Let-Down,” to help cue the let-down reflex so you can get down with your pumping (and move on to the other things you need to cross off your list). Our sounds are designed to be as short as you need or as long as you want so you can enjoy a mini-spa anywhere, anytime. And best of all? The playlist lives on our Mamava app and fits in your pocket.
For new moms returning to work, there may be no greater intersection between their personal lives and their professional identities than pumping breast milk. Breastfeeding women need both time and a clean private space to plug in a breast pump. In addition, they need to pump multiple times a day on a regular schedule to maintain their milk supply and avoid painful engorgement. But expressing milk at work can make for uncomfortable situations when lactation rooms aren’t specifically designed around the physical and physiological needs of breast pumping. If your goal is to provide thoughtful user-centered lactation spaces for working mothers, you’ll want to avoid these five common mistakes.
Breastfeeding is natural, but it's also complicated. From the physical realities of engorgement, let-down, and latch, to the logistical components of packing a breast pump, taking time to express, and finding a private space to pump, breastfeeding is hard work. And it's especially hard for mamas who want to take in a game and can't find appropriate lactation accommodations. It's not suprising that lactation accommodations aren't plentiful in public buildings and spaces when breastfeeding is not normalized, but that doesn't mean breast pumping and breastfeeding mamas need to settle. Public spaces need to consider everybody's needs. And so mamas, this is your time to speak up and now is your opportunity to change the status quo.
The #MeToo hashtag has given collective weight and networked visibility to the unspoken underside of women’s workplace experiences. In fact, 60% of American women have experienced sexual harassment, and most of that harassment happens at work. We’re now witnessing a sea change that’s challenging--and changing--outdated assumptions and expectations about behavior in the workplace, as well as the culture of a workplace. Indeed, the #TimesUp movement is about shining a bright light into the many dark corners of women’s experiences in the workplace. It’s also initiating an important conversation about how we need to improve structures of support for all women.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to provide a secure and private lactation room for breastfeeding employees who need to pump at work. For many businesses, however, finding an appropriate free space or building out a whole new room can be difficult. In addition, effective lactation space design needs to address three core areas: legislation, user experience, and available space. If you have a small office space, budget constraints, or need a lactation space that will serve multiple moms simultaneously, here are three aspects of design to keep in mind.
Ovia Health’s “Motherhood in America” reports that 70% of working mothers want better breastfeeding support in their workplace. For companies that employ women, this should be a wake-up call: workplaces need to do more to support working mothers. San Francisco is the first city in the nation to require all employers to have a clear lactation accommodation policy and a clean private space to express milk. Make sure you’re in compliance and save time and energy down the road by supporting breastfeeding employees from the start.
Workplace environments are changing rapidly in our ever-connected digital era and that’s a good thing. Gone are the days of anonymous cubicles, rigid environments, and brief pleasantries exchanged over the water cooler. Today’s employees want a workplace that supports creativity and collaboration, as well as their overall wellbeing. Just as the strict boundaries between work life and home life are increasingly fluid, so too are the physical spaces we work in. Forward-thinking office design ensures physical spaces that both reflect and reinforce a company’s culture, mission, and values.
San Francisco may be known for its steep hills and streetcars, but it’s quickly becoming the best city for working mothers and families. Last year the city implemented a paid parental leave ordinance and in 2018 the new Lactation In The Workplace Ordinance goes into effect that requires all employers in the city to provide a dedicated space for expressing breast milk at work. If you’re not sure what the ordinance requires or how to be in compliance, we’ve identified four key things you need to know and do.