As office design has evolved, companies are realizing the need for unique spaces that fit employees’ needs. One popular addition that many business owners are requesting is the Mother’s Room — a quiet relaxing space that women can use for pumping breast milk. While federal law requires these types of rooms in larger companies, we’re seeing businesses of all sizes looking to customize their spaces to support their employees.
Here’s a look at what makes these room special — and how to make them work in any floor plan.
Federal law requires that companies with 50 or more employees provide private space for breastfeeding women. The spaces have to be away from public areas and have doors to support privacy. Many employers are allocating about 30 to 40 square feet for women to pump in.
Providing a dedicated room is fairly easy when planning a new office, as the space can be designed as part of the natural flow of the office. At Earles Architects and Associates, we have designed several mother’s rooms with a range of sizes, locations and environments. Here’s what you need:
- A small private space about 5 foot by 6 feet with a lock on the door
- A comfortable chair and table
- An electrical outlet
- If budget and space allows, a mini fridge for milk storage and sink for washing up are a plus.
Other small but useful features that are helpful to include are a full length mirror and coat hook. Lastly, you should consider sound insulation for the room as pumping machines can get noisy. Depending on the size, the room can be multifunctional and be used as a small meeting room, prayer room, or respite/wellness room.
Fitting it into Existing Space
Adding a Mother’s Room to an existing office floor plan can be challenging — but is workable with the right guidance from a designer and/or architect. While it might be tempting to look for any small “left over” space and try to make it work, it’s better to give this some thought. A storage closet, server room or restroom won’t typically translate into a comfortable relaxing environment. When a mother is forced to use an uninspiring space, she may be less inclined to continue.
I am a working mother and faced some challenges when nursing, but luckily I was able to nurse for 6 months with some formula supplementation. I was also lucky enough to have a supportive workplace. As a company with less than 50 employees, we were not required by law to have a dedicated mother’s room. However, our company ownership and management was highly supportive and I was able to find a room large enough to use — one that was private and could accommodate a comfortable chair.
The important thing is to not overlook or neglect the need for these spaces. With the popularity of open office floor plans and glass office fronts, it is now more important than ever to provide these private rooms. By providing an appropriate space businesses are also likely to improve employee retention.