What better time than World Breastfeeding Week for First 5 Contra Costa to unveil our first designated break room for nursing mothers!
First 5 Contra Costa has always been supportive of nursing mothers who need break time to express milk, but we haven’t had a private room specifically for this purpose. Four years ago after I returned from maternity leave, my colleague just posted a sign on my office door that said, “If this door is closed, DO NOT DISTURB.” While that was effective, it certainly wasn’t ideal – especially for nursing employees without offices.
But after a not-so-extreme makeover of a cluttered storage closet last month, First 5 Contra Costa now has an inviting, clean, and private space for nursing moms.
California is one of the first states to enact legislation requiring employers to provide “reasonable break time” and private, non-bathroom space to express breast milk during the workday. Research shows that by supporting a mother’s decision to give her baby breastmilk, employers can reduce health care costs, decrease absenteeism, and increase morale.
Creating a break room for nursing moms is not that complicated. Besides a commitment to breastfeeding (and to the law!), it really just requires space, privacy, an electrical outlet, a table, a chair, and close proximity to a sink and refrigerator. That’s it.
When an office is crowded, finding a space does require some creativity. In our case, First 5 staff reorganized existing storage space to accommodate the new nursing room. We had the room painted, installed a lock for privacy, made sure the electrical outlet worked, and added chairs, a rug, table, and sound machine. First 5 Program Officer Debi Silverman painted a brightly colored mural to add the perfect finishing touch (Debi spent 6 hours on a Saturday doing this!).
For more information about how you can create a breastfeeding-friendly work place, check out Healthy and Active Before 5’s sample Worksite Breastfeeding Policy.