Breastfeeding Support Program
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for their baby’s first six months of life and continue breastfeeding through their baby’s first year of life. AAP reports numerous health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother.
An employee's right to express milk at work is protected by New York State Labor Law § 206-C (established in May 2008), which requires employers to allow working women to use unpaid break time or paid meal time to nurse their babies or express milk for up to three years after the birth of their child. It also requires employers to provide a reasonable space where an employee can express milk in privacy and prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee who exercises this right. All departments are required to post this policy.
Additionally, as part of the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide breaks for nursing mothers, although New York State already had the related labor law in place.
Recognizing the benefits of breastfeeding and in compliance with the law, Columbia University is committed to ensuring that the needs of lactating women are met and now offers a breastfeeding support program. The breastfeeding support program is for mothers at Columbia returning to work, school, or visiting the campus who wish to express milk.
The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance to provide coverage for breast pumps. For more information on what is covered by the Columbia health insurance providers, please see:
Health and Safety
Columbia University is committed to establishing and maintaining a healthful and safe work environment for our faculty, staff and students. While working at Columbia you may have varying health needs. For example, if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant and/or nursing and are concerned about potential exposure to biological, chemical or radiological agents you should speak with your physician and may also contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).
Breastfeeding Advisory Committee
The Office of Work/Life would like to acknowledge the breastfeeding advisory committee for their contribution to the development of the breastfeeding support program:
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn: Adjunct professor in pediatrics; Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education, Teachers College and College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University; Co-director, National Center for Children and Families; Co-director, Columbia University Institute for Child and Family Policy
Wendy Chavkin: Special Lecturer; Former Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, and Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Sarah Sheets Cooke, DNP, RN-CS: Former Vice Dean of School of Nursing
Laura Zeidenstein, DrNP, MSN, CNM: Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing and Director of Nurse-Midwifery Program
The Breastfeeding Support Program includes:
- Private, clean lactation rooms throughout Columbia's campuses equipped with Medela Symphony Hospital-Grade Pumps
- Breast pump accessories for lactation room users at a substantial discounted rate. Note: Breastfeeding equipment is eligible for reimbursement through a flexible spending account. Please read the specific eligibility requirements outlined by the IRS for more information.
- Information on lactation consultants and support groups.
- Educational materials and breastfeeding-related workshops on campus
Contact the Office of Work/Life at 212-854-8019 to:
- Receive hardcopies of the breastfeeding support program materials
- Learn about lactation room locations and how to gain access to the rooms
- Purchase the breast pump accessories. Note: Breastfeeding equipment is eligible for reimbursement through a flexible spending account. Please read the specific eligibility requirements outlined by the IRS for more information.
- Provide feedback on services and suggestions for future programming
Columbia University provides lactation rooms to support nursing mothers returning to work, school, or campus. Each room offers a clean, secure, and private space for women who need to express breast milk during their time on campus. All of the rooms are equipped with a table, chair, and lock from the inside; some contain refrigerators and sinks. If a sink is not in the room itself, there is one close by. If you use a room where a refrigerator is not provided, we recommend that you bring a cooler to store your breast milk. Additionally there are Medela hospital grade breast pumps provided in each room; accessories will need to be provided by each individual user and can be purchased from the Office Of Work/Life (details below).
Women may access the lactation rooms only for the purposes of expressing, storing and collecting breast milk. The rooms listed below meet the lactation room requirements set forth by the Office of Work/Life. To access these rooms, please contact the Office of Work/Life at 212-854-8019 to receive the access code which will change periodically.
Lactation Room Locations
|2852 Broadway (bet. 110th and 111th St)||Second floor
|| Sink in nearby bathroom
|| Mon-Fri: 10:00a.m.- 6:00p.m.
Business School (Uris)
Sink in nearby bathroom/Refrigeration in room
|Mon-Fri: 7:00 a.m.-1:30 a.m.;
Sat-Sun: 9:00 a.m.-1:30 a.m.
Housing (Carman Hall)
|First floor||Sink in room/No refrigeration||24 hour access; 7 days/week|
|Lamont Doherty Campus- Lamont Hall||Second floor||Sink in room/No refrigeration||9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; 5 days/week|
|Law School (Jerome Greene Hall)||Third floor||
Sink in room/Refrigeration in room
9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; 7 days/week
|Medical Center||PH-17||Sink in nearby bathroom/Refrigeration in room||24 hour access; 7 days/week|
|Northwest Corner Building||Eighth||
Sink in room/Refrigeration in room
|24 hour access; 7 days/week - access available at campus level on the 4th floor|
|The School at Columbia University *
||Second floor|| Sink in room/Refrigeration nearby
||8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m; 5 days/week|
|School of Engineering & Applied Sciences (Mudd)||Sixth floor||
Sink in room/No refrigeration
|24 hour access; 7 days/week|
|The School of Nursing**
Sink and refrigerator nearby
|24 hour access; 7 days/week|
School of Social Work
Sink in nearby bathroom/No refrigeration
Mon: 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
|Studebaker||Fourth floor||Sink in nearby bathroom/Refrigeration in room||
8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; 7 days/week
If you are at Columbia's building on E. 60th street, contact the Office of Work/Life and we will work to find you a private room to express milk.
If you are at the Office of Alumni and Development on W. 113th street, contact the Office of Work/Life and we will work to find you a private room to express milk.
* Access to this room is limited to employees at The School.
**Access to this room is limited to faculty, staff, & students at The School of Nursing.
To get started using any of the Columbia Lactation Rooms, just follow these steps:
1. Request access: Please contact the Office of Work/Life at 212-854-8019 to request access (key pad code) to the campus lactation rooms. It is best to do this at least ten days in advance of your use of the room. Please note: Room access codes will be changed periodically to ensure appropriate access and safety. The Office of Work/Life will communicate to all current users about the change in access in advance.
2. Obtain breast pump attachments: Each lactation room is equipped with a Medela Symphony electric, hospital grade pump. You will need to bring your own attachments for the Symphony pump, which are available in one package (Symphony Double Pumping Kit) through the Office of Work/Life at cost, or visit the Medela website other retailers. You may also want to review the Symphony pump instructions (linked at the bottom of the page) before your first visit. Breastfeeding mothers may also bring their own pump to and from the lactation room on a daily basis, but will be responsible for securing it against theft or use by others.
3. Plan for storage/cooling: Refrigeration/storage is provided in some, not all, of the lactation rooms on campus, so be prepared to store your breast milk as needed. Columbia University is not responsible for the security or integrity of breast milk stored in or outside of the lactation room refrigerator.
Cleaning & Sanitization
All Lactation room users are expected to clean up after each use of a room, especially when using the on-site pump equipment. This is not only out of respect for the next user, but to prevent contamination and illness transmission. Each user should allow enough time, within a visit, to clean the pump equipment of breast milk spills and dispose of trash properly. Antibacterial sprays/wipes and paper towels are provided for cleaning.
Upon accessing the room, slide the sign to IN USE to alert other users that someone is using the room. Slide the sign back to VACANT when you leave the room unoccupied. Please respect the privacy of all lactation room users by knocking prior to typing in the access code for the rooms. Do not prop open the door at any time.