Breastfeeding Support Program
Recognizing the benefits of breastfeeding and in compliance with the law, Columbia University offers an array of resources to help support parents and is committed to ensuring that the needs of lactating women are met. The Breastfeeding Support Program is available for mothers at Columbia returning to work, school, or visiting the campus who wish to express milk. This program is essential to assisting faculty, staff, and students achieve their academic and career goals while meeting their children’s needs.
- Private Lactation Rooms throughout Columbia's campuses equipped with Medela Symphony Hospital-Grade Pumps
- Educational materials and breastfeeding-related workshops on campus
- Information on lactation consultants and support groups.
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 make a reasonable effort to provide a space where an employee can express milk in privacy and prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee who exercises this right.
New York City Local Laws 185 and 186 (both passed in 2018) require that employers provide employees with lactation accommodations, including a lactation room where employees can pump/express breast milk, and reasonable time to pump/express breast milk. Employers are also required to have a written lactation policy that meets certain requirements under the law.
The Breastfeeding Bill of Rights is available for print in several languages through the New York State Department of Health website.
As part of the 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. The Affordable Care Act also requires health insurance to provide coverage for breast pumps. Contact your insurance provider or reach out to the Columbia Benefits Service Center for additional information on what is covered.
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 Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).