The purpose of lactation rooms is to reduce barriers to breastfeeding employees by enabling them to transition back to work and continue breastfeeding their child. Lactation rooms are sometimes established as part of a more comprehensive breastfeeding support program or they may be the employer’s sole contribution to support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.
Over the past decade, lactation rooms have become widely popular in the US business setting. The reason for this development is that
“mothers are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. labor force. Approximately 70% of employed mothers with children younger than 3 years work full time. One-third of these mothers return to work within 3 months after giving birth and two-thirds return within 6 months. Working outside the home is related to a shorter duration of breastfeeding, and intentions to work full-time are significantly associated with lower rates of breastfeeding initiation and shorter duration”. 
In addition, breastfeeding benefits employers as breastfeeding results in decreased health claims, increased productivity, and fewer days missed from work to care for sick children. 
One example of the benefits provided to businesses and employees by establishing a corporate lactation program is that of CIGNA, the national employee benefits company. In 1995, CIGNA established the “Working Well Moms” program, which provided lactation education program and lactation rooms. In 2000, CIGNA and the UCLA conducted a study of 343 breastfeeding women who were taking part in CIGNA’s program. The study revealed a savings of $240,000 annually in health care expenses for breastfeeding mothers and their children, and a savings of $60,000 annually through reduced absenteeism among breastfeeding mothers at CIGNA.  In addition, the study found that
“breastfeeding duration for women enrolled in the Working Well Moms program is 72.5% at six months compared to a 21.1 percent national average of employed new mothers.” 
Generally, a lactation room includes a refrigerator, sink, cleaning supplies, table, and comfortable chair. The ability to pump throughout the day allows mothers to keep up their milk supply and enables them to save and take home the nutrient-rich milk they have pumped.
A variety of resources exist for breastfeeding mother and employers on how to establish and promote a lactation room or lactation support program. The following are currently available:
- Center for Disease Control’s Healthy Workplace Initiative
- US Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010
In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau is currently developing a toolkit to promote breastfeeding in the workplace called “The Business Case for Breastfeeding”.
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