By now, lactation room signs should be as commonplace as regular bathroom signs (after all, feeding a child and/or preparing their food is every bit as natural as answering the call of nature).
Sadly, society still has a way to go, but we can get a little closer by ensuring that workplaces and communal buildings are alerted to these necessary spaces and hopefully encouraged to make them the norm.
Depending on your workplace vibe, these signs can range from formal and to the point to a little lighter and tongue-in-cheek!
Either way, it’s important that the signs communicate the right information with a welcoming touch.
Here are some sign options to consider. We’ll also look at breastfeeding laws, when/where to use these signs, and more…
1. Pumping in Progress (Funny)
Both a cute and savage reminder that working moms work just as hard during the day (if not twice as hard) as their male counterparts, this funny but respectful sign would work well in an informal office environment.
Another funny take on the cow theme could perhaps be an illustration of a shocked/surprised cow with the words “Holy cow! Pumping in Progress” or maybe “Got milk? I do! Pumping in Progress.”
2. Pumping in Progress (Informal But Gets the Point Across)
This sweet and simple sign is a good way to alert others to a mother- and baby-friendly space with a personable touch. Accompanying the pump illustration with a rainbow graphic just gives the sign that extra welcoming feel for mothers.
A similar design that could make the point in an informal way could be a smiley face, a pastel pink heart, or a small illustration of a baby next to the pump and wording.
3. Pumping in Progress (Formal Sign)
Sometimes a more formal atmosphere calls for something clear and to the point. This basic but polite sign would be appropriate for individual office doors if you work alone and do not use a communal pumping room.
A nice way to personalize this kind of sign could be a colorful border or brighter font for the words “Pumping in Progress” to highlight the necessary info.
4. Privacy Please
This calls people to attention directly and tastefully – the flowers denote feminity and motherhood, hinting in a polite and informal way what’s behind the door.
In a similar vein, you could have a privacy sign with the words “Shh…privacy please. Pumping in Progress” perhaps with mini hearts or rainbows surrounding the words.
There may not always be babies in a pumping room, but the “Shh…” request could ensure people are mindful of noise levels so as not to disturb/distress moms during the often tiresome process of using a breast pump.
5. Please Do Not Enter (For Pumping Moms)
In a mixed communal area, it’s really important for moms to feel they have a quiet, undisturbed space to pump. This calls for a more direct no-entry sign like this. The baby bottle illustration is a nice touch to make things even clearer too!
You could also have a sign reading “Milk makin’ mamas in here – Please Do Not Enter” with a cartoon cow.
6. Please Do Not Enter (For Breastfeeding Moms)
The need for a private undisturbed space is even more crucial when it comes to breastfeeding, particularly for first-time moms in the workplace.
Depending on the location of the breastfeeding room, this simple message and illustration of a nursing mother and baby are well suited in a designated part of a building with average foot traffic.
For smaller offices with heavy footfall though, maybe a red stop sign icon above the illustration would ensure limited disturbance.
7. Please Do Not Disturb
This kind of simple and polite sign would be welcome in any workplace environment. A cute heart illustration lends a softer feel to the words too.
If you work in a majority-male office, consider whether a small baby bottle illustration or breast pump illustration may be more suitable than a heart just to make things crystal clear.
8. Mothers’ Room
This sign type could be vague for a large mixed office (particularly if people only read the font!), but it’s ideal for smaller workspaces with a friendly atmosphere.
It’s perfect as well for female staff in nurseries, preschool areas, and other child-centered environments.
Depending on the kind of environment (i.e., a nursery or school) you could also include a sweet illustration of an animal mom/baby pairing like a doe and fawn next to a baby bottle.
9. Lactation Room (Basic Sign)
Ideal for more formal areas and busy mixed spaces, a simple and clear-cut sign with basic info like this can get the job done.
A nice way to personalize it could be with contrasting colors for either the words “Lactation Room” or “Privacy Please” to keep things formal but bold and noticeable.
A similar image could be a basic vector drawing of a baby’s head and breast pump.
10. Lactation Room (Sign With Flair)
Perfect if you want to give your Lactation Room sign a little something extra, this snazzy and bold neon lettering and dual illustrations should leave people in no doubt as to what it’s all about!
Another idea for a lactation sign with flair could be one with the words “Express yourself! Lactation Room within,” perhaps accompanied by a cartoon cow in shades!
When and Where To Use Lactation Room Signs
Lactation Room signs should ideally be placed outside designated rooms other than a bathroom that is away from public view and preferably far from the regular employees/staff bathrooms.
Signs should be used either on the door of the room itself or directly beside the door.
They can and should also be used on private office doors where the space for a designated lactation room may be unavailable.
Examples of this include the private office of a lactating employee or the building of a self-employed worker or employer in which a lactation station may need to be set up (temporarily) in the corner of their office.
Laws on Breastfeeding in the Workplace
As of March 2010, a federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law” has been in place, “requiring employers to provide break time and a place for most hourly-wage earning and salaried employees to express breast milk at work, asking employers provide a ‘reasonable’ amount of time and space other than a bathroom” according to the USBC (U.S. Breastfeeding Committee).
More recently in December 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus Spending Bill that includes the “PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act” – extending the rights of employees to break time, a private place to pump, and other adjustments.
Lactation Rooms in the Workplace
Despite many modern workplaces still falling far behind when it comes to normalizing lactation, many states stipulate that lactation rooms are required.
For example, New York State Labor Law Section 206-c notes that “employers are required to provide you, as a nursing mother, with break time to pump breast milk at work.”
According to the Office on Women’s Health, there must also be “at least one permanent milk expression space for every 50 to 100 women employed by the company.”
Are There Time Limitations on Pumping Milk?
This may vary from state to state and among individual companies, but according to the New York State Dept. of Labor, employers must grant you “at least 20 minutes for each break,” but you must be allowed more if necessary.
Lactating mothers can use their regular paid breaks or meal time to pump milk. Otherwise, they can make up this time before or after their normal working hours.
Nursing Mothers Room Requirements
Per the National Institutes of Health, the fundamental requirements for a nursing room include:
- Distinct rooms designed for their intended purpose (i.e., not accessible through a bathroom or locker room)
- Located near lobbies, main corridors, and/or in proximity to break rooms and bathrooms
- Accessible but shielded from view and possible intrusion
The rooms themselves should:
- Be equipped with lockable doors (which can be accessed by emergency personnel)
- Be furnished with tables or a counter and comfortable, ergonomic chairs
- Be equipped with a medical-grade breast pump(s)
- Have a sink with hot and cold water
- Have adequate non-glaring lighting (i.e. sconces or table lamps) and sufficient electrical outlets
- Include a color scheme conducive to relaxation
For further setup advice, here’s a great guide for the standards and features to include as outlined by the Human Resources center at the University of Michigan.
To sum up, lactation signs are an important part of any workspace or communal building to alert fellow moms (and non-lactating employees) to these much-needed private spaces.
As you can see, there are lots of options when it comes to getting the sign just right for your environment, whether you’d like to notify others of a pumping room in a fun and cheeky way or need a formal Do Not Enter warning to make sure your company gets the message about the private breastfeeding room!
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.