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Manager Resources

As a manager or supervisor, you play an important role in an employee's successful transition from maternity leave to work. Please email if you would like to receive a digital copy of the Breastfeeding Support Guide for Managers & Supervisors.

Tips by and for Johns Hopkins Managers


A work environment supportive of breastfeeding includes flexible break times, a clean and private space, other than a bathroom, to express milk, and information and resources. Mothers who continue breastfeeding after returning to work also need the support of their supervisors, coworkers, and others in the workplace.

Manager or Supervisor

A comprehensive breastfeeding support program that includes the following four components has been shown in business environments to have the greatest return on investment:

  • Privacy for milk expression
  • Flexible breaks and work options
  • Education
  • Support

Working together with the breastfeeding mother, you have the opportunity to facilitate the benefits of breastfeeding for baby, mother, Johns Hopkins, and society. Supporting breastfeeding after employees return to work can be a win-win situation for everyone.

Before maternity leave starts:

  • Help plan sufficient leave for new mothers to establish breastfeeding. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for baby and mother to establish a good milk supply.
  • Consider allowing infants to be brought to the workplace during breastfeeding times.
  • Consider alternative work schedules such as part-time employment, job sharing, flex schedules, work-at-home options, and/or a gradual return to work so breastfeeding employees experience less disruption to the breastfeeding process.
  • Support the new mother’s choice of place for pumping. If there is not a designated Mother’s Room near your building, refer her to the Office of Work, Life and Engagement if she cannot find adequate space. ( or 410-516-2000)
  • Be sensitive to the fact that not all women:
    • Know whether they will breastfeed before their baby arrives.
    • Choose to breastfeed for a variety of reasons.
    • Will feel comfortable discussing their breastfeeding choices.

When the breastfeeding mother returns to work:

  • Review schedule and work place plans.  Encourage revisiting the plans after a few weeks to see if any changes need to be made.
  • Confirm that the breastfeeding mother has a private, clean place to express breast milk.
  • Refer the breastfeeding mother to your HR Manager or the Office of Work, Life and Engagement if she has questions or concerns about breastfeeding after returning to work. or 410-516-2000)
  • Let others in the office know that you and Johns Hopkins support breastfeeding after returning to work.
  • Be sensitive to the privacy of the new mother’s choices.



As someone who works side by side with the breastfeeding mother, there are a few things coworkers can do to make the work environment supportive and the transition back to work smoother. As the manager or supervisor, you can help coworkers support their colleague who wishes to breastfeed after returning to work.

Know the facts:

  • A breastfeeding mother is allowed to pump where she feels comfortable on campus (her office or a private room).
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by requiring employers to provide reasonable break time and a place, other than a restroom, that is private and clean for a mother to express milk.
  • Breastfeeding provides the best-known nutrition for the baby and provides important health benefits to baby, mother, and society.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months after the baby's birth. Supplementing with formula reduces the milk supply needed to breastfeed exclusively.
  • A breastfeeding mother will need breaks to pump/express breast milk every three to four hours for about 15-30 minutes each session.
  • If a breastfeeding mother skips a session, her milk supply will decrease and her breasts will become uncomfortably full (which can cause significant discomfort).
  • A breastfeeding mother can store her breast milk in a shared refrigerator because the CDC does not list breast milk "as a body fluid for which most healthcare personnel should use special handling precautions." Breast milk will not affect your food.
  • A breastfeeding mother will:
    • Miss fewer days of work because her baby will be healthier.
    • Be more productive and happier at work.
    • Fulfill her job responsibilities which will probably make your job easier.
  • Johns Hopkins saves money because of reduced employee turnover and health care costs.

Be supportive and flexible:

  • Show interest in the baby by asking questions or to see a picture of the baby.
  • Acknowledge and applaud the decision to continue providing breast milk to the baby after returning to work.
  • Offer flexibility in scheduling meetings, breaks, and coverage of job responsibilities.
  • Ask how to help make breastfeeding at work easier at Johns Hopkins.
  • Be sensitive to the privacy of the new mother’s choices.

Updated 3/20/2018