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A Well-Designed Approach to Pumping at Work

Breastfeeding is having a moment. Brelfies (breastfeeding selfies, naturally) have lit up social media recently. Celebrity moms are all about nursing (remember Olivia Wilde’s polarizing photo in Glamour magazine a few months back?). And California announced last fall that by 2016 all of its large airports will be required to offer private lactation rooms for public use.

But when it comes to working moms that need to pump at the office, the offerings are still less than dazzling. Interior designer Elizabeth O’Connor realized this when, last summer, she was asked to revamp a room used for pumping at Brooklyn-based educational software company Amplify, where she worked at the time. “It was this dark little closet,” says O’Connor of the original option.

Working with a budget of around a thousand dollars, O’Connor, whose firm, EO Design, creates spaces for corporations and homes and stages for-sale houses, went about designing a “luxe lactation lounge,” as she likes to call them. Armed with a wealth of knowledge gathered from hefty research, she aimed to include features that would make a nursing mom feel at home while at work.

The finished product included a recliner, magnets on the back of the door for tacking up baby photos (women who gaze at pictures of their little ones often have an easier time pumping), an iPhone dock, a lamp that turns on via a motion sensor, an outlet for a pump, stickers to label stored milk and a mini refrigerator—all simple details to make the process less of a punishment and more of a pleasure. O’Connor assembled the lounge (pictured here), which is bookable like a conference room, over a weekend and a new precedent was born. She went on to design two more for Amplify and wants to make company lactation lounges a major portion of her core business.

“It's just the right thing to do,” she says. “It's already so difficult for moms to go back to work after having a child that it only makes sense for companies that value their employees—and their continued ability to provide for their family, both financially and health-wise—to create calming spaces like these to show that they care.”

O’Connor adds that the women using the rooms have remarked how the atmosphere puts them at ease, which, as any breastfeeding mom will tell you, is a crucial step in transitioning from a work mindset to one more conducive to the task at hand. And proving that the tranquility and appeal of the rooms resonates beyond just new moms, one doubles as a prayer room (in the photo above, a prayer rug peeks out of the chest that holds breast-pump bags) and all three are now a stop on tours for prospective employees of both sexes.

“It’s crucial that it’s not just this haphazard situation,” says O’Connor. “It’s the least we can do.” EO Design, 646-248-8722;

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