Tips for Supervisors / Business Administrators: 

How to Support Breastfeeding Moms

Mothers who continue breastfeeding after returning to work need the support of their coworkers, supervisors, and others in the workplace. Supervisors can support employees in a variety of ways before leave starts, and after mothers return to work. Here’s how:

  • Review Penn’s Nursing Mothers Policy and guidelines to comply with the Lactation Amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a place, other than a restroom, that is private and clean for a mother to express milk.
  • Before leave begins, work together with the employee to complete the Nursing Mothers Plan Document, which covers the following three critical components:
    • Physical Space to Pump. If there isn’t a lactation room within a reasonable distance, think creatively about temporary space. The law requires that this space not be a bathroom, be hidden from view, and shielded from intrusion. It’s important to engage the employee in thinking creatively about temporary space (e.g. vacant office, faculty member on sabbatical, temporarily shifting work spaces). Lactation room planning calculations developed by the CDC advise one lactation station for every 100 women in a building (or 200 employees, both male and female); and up to four women can share one lactation station each day. Review lactation space requirements.
    • Break Times. Understand that nursing mothers' needs vary and pumping takes time. Pumping typically requires 2-3 breaks during the day, with each break lasting 15-30 minutes. The further away the space is, the longer the employee is going to need to be away to pump. Employees using designated lactation spaces in some campus locations can also experience lengthy wait times.
    • Milk Storage. Work with the employee to plan for storage. Breastfeeding moms will need to store milk in either a cooler with ice packs or in a refrigerator in a low traffic area. Consider working with your department to rent or purchase a mini refrigerator. 
  • Be prepared to adjust the plan once the baby is born.
  • Exercise sensitivity related to the following:
    • Not all women know whether they will breastfeed before their baby arrives.
    • Women choose to breastfeed for a variety of reasons.
    • Not all women will feel comfortable discussing their breastfeeding choices.
    • It is important to be sensitive to the privacy of the new mother’s choices.
  • Resources
  • For help addressing special circumstances or if you are not sure what steps to take, contact your department’s Human Resources representative or the Worklife Office at 215.898.7729.

Sources: CDC Healthier Worksite Initiative,