Carnegie Mellon University

Lactation Support Program FAQs

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Supervisor FAQs

What is the importance of supporting lactation in the workplace?

  • Planned flexibility around lactation breaks supports employees’ emotional and physical health and results in fewer unplanned PTO occurrences due to illness.
  • While 80% of birthing parents breastfeed their children at birth, that number drops to 20.5% by six months. The largest contributing factor is the birthing parent returning to work. Providing the flexibility to lactate is integral to the success of our workforce.
  • There can often be a significant amount of stress when a parent feels they must choose between providing milk for their child and achieving at work. The Lactation Support Program helps employees succeed in both endeavors and reduces stress for employees returning to the workplace.
  • If a birthing parent cannot express milk at the same frequency that their baby feeds, their body will begin to decrease milk production, leading to the loss of the ability to provide milk for their child. It can also lead to painful health concerns such as mastitis. By supporting lactation, we support the health and well-being of our colleagues.

According to the Lactation Support Policy, what are the expectations for supervisors?

Supervisors are responsible for creating an environment that enables and supports the needs of breastfeeding employees and student workers.

I want my employees to know that I support them if they want to use the lactation rooms and pump while at work. What’s the best way to do convey this?

  • Review CMU’s Lactation Support Policy [pdf] to ensure you are compliant with current university policies.
  • Consider how you can work lactation breaks into your employees’ schedule. Some examples for how this is handled in different industries are provided by the Office of Women’s Health.
  • Integrate lactation program information into onboarding initiatives and communications for employees taking parental leave.
  • Reach out to any employees who have welcomed a new child to ensure they know about the university’s Lactation Support Policy.
  • Clearly communicate to your employee and to your team that time spent on lactation breaks does not detract from work performance.
  • Be mindful that each employees’ needs will be different and that needs change over time.
  • Consider if there are lactation rooms or other private spaces near your team’s workspace that are easily accessible. If necessary, work with your department to create a lactation space.

One of my employees brought up that they would like to talk about using the Lactation Support Program when they return to work. I’m a little uncomfortable having this conversation and am worried I might say the wrong thing. Any tips?

  • Schedule time for a private, one-on-one conversation with the employee. How to start the conversation:
    • “Because you disclosed that you have an infant, I wanted to make you are aware of our lactation policy on campus and let you know that the university offers several lactation rooms. If you would like more information about the lactation support program, please visit the university's Lactation Support Program webpage ”
    • Use inclusive language:

Previous Language

Current Language

Breastfeeding Support Program

Lactation Support Program

Mother’s rooms or nursing rooms

Lactation rooms

Mothers, moms, women

Parents, employees, lactating individuals


Expressing milk

Will other employees view lactation support as special treatment?

Lactation breaks are a federally-protected right as well as a biological need. The planning of these breaks is a personal matter between a supervisor and their employee, the same as any other accommodation would be.

I have an employee who needs a lactation space, but there are no lactation rooms nearby. What can I do?

You can designate a temporary space for that employee. This space cannot be a bathroom and should follow the guidelines for creating a lactation space.

Why can’t employees pump in the bathroom?

Employees are expressing food for infants. Bathrooms do not provide sanitary conditions and legislation prohibits the use of bathrooms for lactation purposes.

Some of my employees are uncomfortable with breast milk being stored in the break room. What do I do?

Human milk is food. The FDA and CDC both state that it can be stored with other food items. We suggest that employees storing human milk in a shared refrigerator keep that milk in a cooler bag to prevent confusion and reduce spills.

Employee FAQs

According to the Lactation Support Policy, what are nursing parent employee expectations?

Nursing parents are responsible for:

  • Working with their supervisor to develop a mutually-agreeable arrangement for reasonable breaks to allow for expressing milk
  • Maintaining the cleanliness of designated lactation rooms (and other areas used for expressing milk) after each use

How do I access a lactation room?

Submit a Lactation Room Request Access form. Requests should be processed within two business days of being received.

Where are the lactation rooms on campus?

View the Lactation Rooms listing. There is also an interactive map available so you can see where the rooms are located on campus.

What do the lactation rooms look like?

Setup and features vary across campus. All lactation rooms on campus have:

  • At least one three-prong outlet
  • A locking door
  • Shades or blinds that can be drawn to cover the windows if necessary
  • Privacy from public view
  • A comfortable location, such as a couch or a chair

I don’t work on the Pittsburgh campus. Am I still able to access a lactation room?

Employees and student workers in other U.S. locations should contact their supervisor and HR business partner to identify a private, non-bathroom space for breastfeeding and/or expressing milk.

The lactation room I am interested in using needs maintenance or cleaning. Who can I contact?

Please contact Facilities Management Services.

I would like to pump during the workday. When is the right time to bring it up with my supervisor?

You are encouraged to communicate with your supervisor prior to the birth of your child that you will need time to take breaks to pump and access to a lactation room. For employees joining a department while breastfeeding, share your needs with your supervisor as soon as possible. As the frequency and duration required to express milk changes over time, communicate with your supervisor to adjust your breaks accordingly.

I am not sure how to fit time to pump into my work day. Any tips?

Talk directly with your supervisor about your needs when it comes to taking time to pump or walk to a lactation room. You may also find the Pumping and Returning to Work resources helpful for practical tips for returning to work and maintaining your milk supply.

Will I be compensated for the time it takes to pump?

The university is not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing parents for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing breast milk. However, where supervisors already provide compensated breaks, an employee or student worker who used the break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that others are compensated for break time. In addition, the FLSA’s general requirement that an employee or student worker must be completely relieved from duty, or the time must be compensated as work time applies.

I am having difficulty figuring out a plan with my supervisor so that I can pump during the Who can I contact for support?

Please contact the Office of Human Resources.