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What Happens When Moms Design A Lactation Room

Three Perkins+Will mothers conceptualize the pumping room of their dreams.

What Happens When Moms Design A Lactation Room
[Image: Anna Mahnke/Perkins+Will]

The Affordable Care Act requires that most employers provide a private space for new mothers to pump milk–that’s not just a bathroom stall. But in the eight years since the law came into effect, some companies have decided to interpret it by designating closets, shower stalls, and single-stall bathrooms as lactation rooms. Others have no place to pump at all and some moms have resigned to pumping in their cars as a result. A lack of a place to pump can contribute to a woman’s decision to stop breastfeeding her child, which increases the chances of her baby getting sick. And workplaces can often be hostile to women when they need to express milk–one woman told the Washington Post that she wasn’t allowed to leave a meeting at the tech startup she worked for, and she began to leak milk through her shirt. She soon quit the company. The lactation room, or lack thereof, has become symbolic of how workplaces treat mothers. So what does the ideal place to pump at work look like?

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