Creating Nursing and Lactation Space

The Penn Nursing Mothers Program requires that schools and centers provide eligible faculty and staff with appropriate space for nursing and lactation responsibilities, as described in Penn’s Nursing Mother’s Policy.

Options for Spaces

Private office

If the nursing mother has a private office, it may be used for nursing and lactation responsibilities. The office must be shielded from view and have a door that can be locked for privacy. If the nursing mother feels uncomfortable using her office space for nursing and lactation responsibilities, her supervisor should help her find an alternative space.

Designated organizational space

Some organizations have designated nursing and lactation spaces for their faculty and staff members to use. The Human Resources representative for the school/center and all business administrators and supervisors should be notified about any designated nursing and lactation space in the organization as well as its availability for individuals in other organizations. Designated spaces can be returned to other uses if required by the business needs of the organization.

Temporary space

If a designated space does not exist and/or the faculty or staff member does not have a personal office, the organization will make every effort to identify a hygienic, private nursing and lactation space based on the requirements outlined in the Nursing Mother’s Policy. Temporary nursing and lactation spaces may be returned to other uses if required by the business needs of the organization.

Additional Information

Labeling areas

A label that indicates the space is in use can take many forms. Several symbols, like this one, have become popular for identifying nursing and lactation space.

Sign-up sheet

A sign-up sheet makes it easy for nursing mothers to see if a space is available when she expects to need it, to reserve time, and to see when the space is occupied. You can easily create your own or find conference room reservation signs at Office Depot, such as the Quartet Conference Room Scheduler or the At-a-Glance Dry Erase Board.

Useful features for nursing and lactation areas

An ideal nursing and lactation area is no more than a 10-minute walk from the nursing mother’s work location and doesn’t require her to go outside. It requires a way to lock the door or prevent any intrusions. It also needs a way to control the lighting from inside the space.

It’s also helpful to include the following amenities:

  • Sanitation resources (such as hand wipes and disinfecting surface wipes)
  • Access to running water
  • A lock on the door
  • A chair and a shelf or table for breast pump
  • A wall clock
  • A wall mirror
  • A footstool

Note: The American Institute of Architects provides a “Best Practice in Lactation Room Design” document with recommendations for lactation room setup and amenities. The guidelines are available at

Breastfeeding employees should never be expected to express milk in a restroom.