Lactation Question and Answer

For Mothers

What are some of the things you need as a mother to be successful pumping breast milk?
It is helpful to have a double electric pump (often covered by your health insurance), a hands free pumping bra, and an insulated lunch bag with cold packs for keeping breast milk cold during the day. Pumping can be very drying on your nipples. Applying lanolin before pumping can help avoid dryness and chafing. While most department stores offer an assortment of nursing bras, specialty stores are available if you need to be properly fitted for a nursing bra.
How can I clean my breast pump equipment if a sink with hot water is not readily accessible?
Medela Quick Clean wipes or Micro-Steam bags are products available through Medela for portable cleaning of breastpump parts. A microwave may be needed. Another idea is to seal and refrigerate pump parts between pumping sessions throughout the day when it is not feasible to clean with soap and hot water. Wash pump parts with soap and water or put in the top rack of your dishwasher when you return home.
How do I locate an available lactation space in my building and/or across the U-M campus and health system for times I’m away from my primary worksite?
See our list of lactations rooms.
How do I advocate for a new lactation space in my building?
You may want to talk with your supervisor, unit HR representative, and building facilities manager. If you don’t have your own private office, perhaps a space can be located within your office suite or in an area nearby. Sometimes there is an empty office or storage area that can be used. It is important to ask for is a non-bathroom space. When designing a new space, or during major building renovations, it is important to follow the AEC Guidelines for setting up a personal care and lactation room.
What are my rights as a new mother?
The Affordable Care Act is the best resource for identifying a women’s rights regarding location and release time for pumping breast milk.
The law states that the space needs to be private, shielded from public view, and not in a bathroom. The law also states that women should be given release time from work, but that it does not have to be paid time. Many women use their normal paid breaks to cover time away to pump breast milk so they don’t have to take a reduction in pay. If this is not an option, excused time without pay should be requested.
The FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) may also be used to protect the mother’s position while having to take time away from the worksite, however it is important to note if the mom is qualified to receive FMLA and what amount of time might be available (in the event that time was already taken off for the birth of the child). The unit or central Human Resource Office can provide specific information for each individual requesting leave. For assistance, call Central Campus HR at (734) 763-2387 or Health System HR at (734) 647-5538 for information about leaves of absence.
How long does it take to pump breast milk?
The answer will vary according to the individual needs of each mother, the type of equipment that is used, and the stage at which the mom is breastfeeding (e.g. a young infant versus a child who is 6-12 months old). The more relaxed and secure the environment, the better chance the mother will have for an efficient pumping experience. An average amount of time away from the work site is 30-40 minutes at a time, which includes travel time (assuming that she has a nearby place to pump), time to pump, and time to clean up afterwards. Most moms will need to pump every 3-4 hours.
Why should I continue to breastfeed?
There are many health benefits to both the mother and child to breastfeeding during the first year. Breastfeeding provides a unique source of nutrition and antibodies that offers protection against several diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity and childhood cancers. Breastfeeding offers maternal benefits such as protection against postpartum depression and decreased risks of breast and ovarian cancers. As recommended by all major medical organizations, mothers should exclusively breastfeed for at least the first six months. The Affordable Care Act recommends supporting breastfeeding throughout the first year of a child’s life.
What can I do if I have more breast milk than my child can use?
Moms from the U.S., Canada and Mexico can donate their surplus breast milk to a non-profit HMBANA (Human Milk Banking Association of North America) milk bank. All donors undergo a screening process that begins with a short telephone interview. Donated milk is heat processed (pasteurized) to remove potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. For more information, visit: Bronson Mothers’ Milk Bank in Kalamazoo, currently the only operating milk bank in the state of Michigan.
For information, visit: Bronson Mothers' Milk Bank or contact the UMHS Lactation office at (734) 232-7885.
What if I am pumping for a premature infant?
If you are pumping for a premature infant, other considerations may apply. Ask your hospital’s Lactation Consultant for additional information.
Who can I contact for room schedules or if I have trouble accessing a room?
See our list of lactations rooms to find the right name and contact number for your room. The lactation rooms in the U-M Children’s and Women’s hospital are open 24 hours/7 days a week for lactating mothers. 
Do lactation rooms have a refrigerator where I can store my milk?
A few lactation rooms across campus have a small refrigerator to store breast milk, however, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine says you may store milk in an insulated cooler bag with an ice pack for up to 24 hours.
We don’t have a lactation space; what can I do in the interim?
First, try to identify a private office that can be used on a temporary basis. Cover any window, and provide a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign to hang on the door.
What is a hospital grade breast pump?
While many mothers either purchase or obtain a quality personal pump using their insurance plan, there are pumps available in many lactation rooms throughout the health system and a few on campus. Breastpumps in lactation rooms are labeled “hospital grade,” and are approved to be shared between multiple users. They are generally more durable and more efficient than personal double electric pumps. For more information, read how to choose the right pump for you. The parts for a personal Ameda breastpump should work on all Ameda equipment.
Who should I call if I’m having difficulty expressing milk?
In addition to your personal physician, if you have any questions about pumping milk for your baby, or have concerns about low milk production, please feel free to contact the UMHS Lactation Consultant help line at (734) 232-47885.
Are there any additional tips for pumping success?
The following website may be helpful: Ten Tips to Pumping Success

For Managers

We don’t have a lactation space; what can I do in the interim?
First, try to identify a private office that can be used on a temporary basis. Cover any window, and provide a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign to hang on the door.
Sometimes staff might be willing to share an office with a mother in need. If this is not possible, consider a storage room or any other private space that is not in a restroom. Or, talk with your HR Representative and/or Building Facility Manager to see if there is a potential space nearby in your building. Some departments have converted single stall restrooms into a lactation space by removing the toilet. One of the benefits to this approach is that a sink is already in the room, which is ideal.
We are developing a space, what do we need?
The first criterion is to be sure that it is NOT in a restroom. A room that is 7 x 7 feet works, however, try to find a larger space so that more than one lactation station can be established (provided there is a way to ensure privacy between mothers, such as by a curtain, screen, or modular furniture). Also needed is a washable chair, an electric outlet, and a small table for the pump.
See the Lactation Setup Guide for more information.
Why should I support this?
Support for nursing mothers has shown to result in improved productivity, a boost in employee morale and increased loyalty to the organization. By providing a dedicated lactation space and lactation support, employers can more successfully recruit and retain valuable faculty, staff and students. We also have a legal obligation to provide mothers with a private, non-bathroom space as specified in the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
What am I required to do?
In addition to providing a private, non-bathroom space, employers are also required to provide release time for the mother in order to express breast milk. While employers do not have to pay the mother for the break time used for pumping, many allow employee to use paid break or lunch time or grant excused time without pay if that is needed. Providing release time is specified in the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
How do I get started?
After brainstorming options with your internal manager/director, you may want to contact your unit HR representative or building facility manager. If you are not sure who to speak to, contact one of the HR Representatives at University HR (734) 763-2387 or call the Health System HR office at (734) 647-5538. You may also want to contact Plant Operations for suggestions on how to contact your building facility manager.
What if I have visitors at my site that need a place to pump breast milk?
See the list of lactation spaces across the campus and health system. If there is not a dedicated lactation space in your building, consider another one that may be nearby, or identify a temporary space using someone’s office or other non-restroom space.
What is my responsibility to maintain a room?
Contact your building facility manager and request that the lactation space be added to the daily/weekly maintenance and cleaning schedule. It is also helpful to have someone periodically check out the room to see if all appears to be in order. Many departments provide cleaning supplies such as paper towels and wipes to help keep the area clean.
How long does it take for a mother to pump breast milk? How many times a day should I expect her to be away from the worksite?
The amount of time needed will vary according to the individual needs of each mother, the type of equipment that is used, and the stage at which the mom is breastfeeding (e.g. a young infant versus a child who is 6-12 months old). The more relaxed and secure the environment, the better chance the mother will have for the pumping experience to be efficient. An estimated amount of time away from the work site is 30-40 minutes, which generally includes travel time (assuming that she has a nearby place to pump), time to pump, and time to clean up afterward. Most moms will need to pump every 3-4 hours.
Can the Personal Care/Lactation room also be used by someone who is not a lactating mother?
Yes, some departments identify the lactation space as “Personal Care/Lactation” room allowing it to be multi-purpose. This allows others, who may have medical or special needs for a private, non-bathroom space, to have a place to go. Some departments have had to monitor this closely to be sure it is not being used as a personal “lounge,” making the room unavailable for moms who need to pump breast milk regularly.