AIA National Best Practices: Wellness Room Design
Mothers returning to the workplace after childbirth face challenges to express medically beneficial breastmilk while also reentering the workforce. Companies that provide lactation rooms in the workplace help these employees achieve both of these goals. Public facilities increasingly provide Lactation and Mothers' rooms for nursing due to growing demand. Following the design guidelines given here will yield a room layout that is easy to use and offers comfort and respect to mothers.
BACKGROUND The influx of women in the workplace starting in the 1960s was partly attributable to the development of infant formula. Formula gives mothers of newborn added freedom to return to work after childbirth. However, in the past 50 years, research findings overwhelmingly in favor of breast milk over formula have instigated a marked increase in the number of mothers choosing to nurse their children for the first year of life or longer. The dramatic health benefits for infant and mother have influenced these mothers to dedicate long hours to pumping and storing breast milk when they are not with their babies. Many of these mothers return to work after just 6 to 12 weeks, and they need a dedicated place where they can comfortably and efficiently collect and store breast milk in the workplace. Some lactation rooms may also be used for wellness purposes that incorporate other functions in addition to lactation support. Design considerations outlined here are primarily designed around lactation needs, but other medical needs may also be well served by these facilities.
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