Breastfeeding and Pumping in the Dental Office

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Pregnancy | Health and Wellness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 83% of the infants born in the U.S. in 2015 were breastfed; nearly 58% were still breastfeeding at six months and nearly 36% were breastfeeding at 12 months.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes provisions regarding employers’ obligations regarding allowances for employees to express breast milk as needed for a nursing child for up to one year after the child's birth. The Act:

  • Requires employers to provide an appropriate place for employees to express milk in a location that is not a bathroom and that is shielded from view, and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.
  • Does not require employers to compensate employees for breaks taken in order to express milk unless they provide compensated breaks employees using breaks for other purposes.

Some states also have provisions governing breastfeeding; those regulations may differ from, and even be more stringent than, federal rules.

More information about breastfeeding and nursing is available from:

The new mother and her physician will likely work together to develop some type of plan regarding breastfeeding the baby. Your role as the employer is to support that plan and ensure the appropriate workplace accommodations and arrangements to allow the nursing mother to care for her baby.

A few things to keep in mind include:

  • Decisions regarding whether or not to breastfeed, and for how long, are personal.
  • Nursing mothers may need to structure their work day to accommodate the breastfeeding or nursing schedule.
    • Be receptive to the idea of the nursing mother scheduling 15-30 minute time blocks throughout the day to accommodate nursing or pumping.
    • Recognize that it’s common for first-time mothers to need to pump every two to three hours.
      • Allowing staff to intentionally block the schedule to allow for pumping or nursing, especially in the first few months, can be very helpful.
      • Most physicians recommend that nursing mothers try to pump at the same times or as often as the baby normally breastfeeds.
      • There’s a wide range of technologies to support mothers who pump: today’s devices allow women to wear breast pumps under their clothes so they can pump hands-free, discretely, and in a manner that allows them to continue to do other things.

While the employee’s physician should provide her with access to resources on breastfeeding/pumping, the resources below offer additional guidance for employers.


Resources

  • From the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau: