Tips for Employee/Supervisor Discussions About Breastfeeding

If you are planning to breastfeed your baby and you don’t have a private office, you’ll need to discuss and plan lactation accommodations with your supervisor. Be prepared to take the time to educate your supervisor and work together on a plan for pumping when you return from your leave.

Familiarize yourself with Penn's Nursing Mothers Policy, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and Fair Labor Standards Act

  • Penn's Nursing Mothers Policy reflects the University's commitment to promote faculty and staff health and to maintain a family-friendly workplace.
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes guidelines that require insurance companies to cover certain women's preventive services such as breast feeding support, supplies and counseling.
  • In addition, the ACA amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by requiring employers to provide reasonable break time and a place, other than a restroom, that is private and clean for a mother to express milk.

Know the benefits of breastfeeding for you, your baby, and your department

  • Breastfeeding is a healthy choice for your baby and can result in fewer illnesses, infections, and certain types of skin irritations (dermatitis).
  • Breastfeeding can lead to quicker postpartum recovery, earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight, and may reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Refer to the experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for their baby’s first six months of life and continue breastfeeding through their baby’s first year of life.
  • Breastfeeding mothers with access to facilities are more committed to and more satisfied with their work.
  • Employees are less likely to miss work to take care of a sick baby because the baby is healthier. (This is true for moms and dads.)
  • Breastfeeding families save money on food and health care.
  • Employees who receive support for breastfeeding are happier and more productive.

Review the research and statistics

Be aware of the challenges breastfeeding moms can encounter on campus when using already established lactation spaces

  • Leaving your building to walk to a lactation space on campus can add additional time to your break and interrupt your flow of work.
  • Lactation spaces on campus, particularly at the School of Medicine and on Locust Walk, have high usage. You may need to wait when you arrive at a space on campus, adding to your time away from your work.

Connect with breastfeeding moms and specialists on campus to learn about their experiences

Connect with your supervisor

  • Once you’ve prepared your talking points, you’re ready to connect with your supervisor. Take time to educate your supervisor on your lactation support needs and help him/her to understand how important it is for you to have her/his support.
  • Fill out the Nursing Mothers Plan Document and review it with your supervisor.
  • Your supervisor may be unaware that you’ll need to continue breastfeeding. Explain your basic need for privacy and flexible breaks to express milk.
  • Communicate the benefits to you and your baby in breastfeeding.
  • Communicate the challenges that returning moms encounter on campus.
  • Consider possible concerns your supervisor and coworkers might have.

Sources: John’s Hopkins Breastfeeding Support Resources, University of Michigan Breastfeeding Support Resources,, The Business Case for Breastfeeding