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The planning phase of your lactation support program (LSP) involves using input from the needs assessment to work with stakeholders in identifying and planning project strategies. Some of the most common components of a comprehensive LSP include the following activities:

Developing a LSP Policy

The various components of a LSP, such as education and provision of lactation rooms, can sometimes be implemented as a volunteer effort without a formal policy. However, without a policy, these activities may only last as long as the original participants are involved. A formal policy officially establishes the program and defines program features for managers and employees, such as clarifying human resources guidelines for employees taking time to use the lactation room.

Work with the individuals or committee within your organization that are responsible for human resources policies. While the policy should be tailored to the needs of the organization and its employees, items to consider including in any work site LSP policy are—

  • Rationale — State why providing a lactation support program is important to the organization and its employees
  • Program Scope — Describe program features, such as education, counseling, and use of lactation rooms.
  • Participation Criteria — Define who is eligible to participate in the program, what is required of them to participate, and if they may participate on flex time or paid time.
  • Responsibilities — Outline what department is responsible for managing the program, the type of support expected from supervisors, and the responsibilities of participating employees.

CDC’s policy on lactation support [PDF-338k] is provided not as a recommendation, but as an example.

Developing Lactation Support Services

photo of a breast pumpLactation support services are ideally multifaceted. Services can include several types of professional support and referral such as from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), as well as facilitated support from other lactating employees. Below are some common components of lactation support programs in the workplace:

  • Breast Pumps — Many employers provide lactating employees with use of a multiple user hospital-grade breast pump and a sterile milk collection kit for individual use.
  • Breastfeeding Classes — A class or classes conducted by an IBCLC for pregnant employees and their partners. The class might cover topics ranging from initiating breastfeeding after delivery, health benefits to baby and mom, to returning to work and continuing to breastfeed. Classes should be offered multiple times and promoted throughout the year.
  • Breastfeeding Counseling — Many workplaces provide employees with access to an IBCLC who is available for ongoing consultation (either face-to-face or over the telephone) from the time the baby is born until nursing ceases.
  • Breastfeeding Discussion Groups — Forums (either face-to-face or electronically) conducted throughout the year inviting open discussion by mothers of nursing infants and toddlers to share best practices.
  • Return to Work Consultation — An individual session at the work site before returning to work covering tips and suggestions for making breastfeeding and working easier.

Establishing Lactation Room(s)

photo of a woman in a lactation roomSometimes one of the most challenging aspects of implementing a comprehensive LSP is developing physical accommodations in the workplace to support the employees’ needs. A review of your needs assessment information should reveal what changes, if any, need to be made to the physical environment to provide clean, private, comfortable spaces for women to express their milk. Usually, this need is answered by providing lactation rooms.

Lactation rooms do not need to be big or expensive. In fact, many organizations find that small rooms work quite well and are less in-demand than larger areas. At a minimum, the room should be accessible to employees with disabilities, assure privacy, have electricity for a breast pump, have adequate lighting and ventilation, include a table and comfortable chair, and have appropriate hand washing and cleaning supplies. Ideally, a lactation room would also be centrally located and provide the following: a sink or close proximity to a sink, a refrigerator, separate temperature control, a hospital-grade pump, a nursing stool, and attractive décor. Many organizations choose to decorate the room to look like a nursery, or with baby pictures, to encourage rapid "let-down" of milk—and minimize pumping time.

Lastly, the cost of establishing lactation rooms varies greatly based on the setup and design of each individual room. The majority of these costs are incurred up front when the room is established, but the lactation room budget should include the recurring cost of providing a chemical sanitizer and disposable towels and other items that the employer chooses to supply (e.g., a breast pump).

Next Steps

After you have completed the planning phase, your next step is to plan for the launching of your LSP and prepare for its ongoing operation.

LSP Example Tools

Other Helpful Information

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