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Model Student Breastfeeding Policy

Download a Model Lactation Policy for Students–a best practice template for campuses looking to provide space, time, and accommodations for breastfeeding students, in compliance with Title IX and other federal law.  The text can be adapted as a memo or included in your institution’s existing policy.

Smiling mother taking baby for walk on campus.

Key Elements to Include in a Student Lactation Policy

When drafting and implementing your institution’s policy, it is useful to keep in mind the following best practice principles—elements that are essential to the success of your policy:

Many campuses already have breastfeeding support programs that are primarily focused on lactating employees. While expanding these to cover students is an easy way to broaden support on campus, it is essential that any such policies specifically include students, are tailored to their unique needs, and are marketed as student policies. For example, breastfeeding support programs that are housed in human resources should be sure to have student-specific provisions and cross-advertise on student webpages.

It is critical to include a description of how students can request excused time off for expressing milk. While many students will be able to pump or nurse their child between classes, it will be impossible for some students to meet their lactation needs without missing class. Pumping between classes is particularly challenging where lactation spaces are not in a central location or in the case of students who must pump very frequently. Students should not be forced to miss out on participation credits or exam time simply because they are breastfeeding—that would be denying them an equal educational opportunity because of their sex.

Title IX requires campus Title IX Coordinators to ensure that reasonable modifications—such as excused absences, adjusted exam schedules, or notetakers—are provided to lactating students and others with pregnancy-related conditions. Be sure to provide students with the contact information of the Title IX Coordinator or their designee in case they need assistance managing their schedule and lactation breaks.

Lactating students need a clean, private, and readily accessible non-bathroom space for expressing milk on campus. The space must be functional and appropriate for expressing milk. Ideally, the space will have electric outlets, a sink (in the space or nearby), a comfortable chair, and a table or other flat surface for holding a pump. Many contain lockers and/or refrigerators for the storage of milk or pumping supplies. In addition to providing these spaces throughout campus, it is important to identify a process for establishing new spaces.  Consider providing one campus point of contact who can work with building managers to establish new areas as needed.

While most students only need a space to pump and the time to do so, some may need other adjustments to protect their health while lactating. For example, lactating students who work in labs may need personal protective equipment or permission to avoid certain hazards. Other students may need new uniforms, permission to eat or drink, or time off to address breastfeeding complications. Ensure that your process includes a pathway for these students to access the accommodations they need with the help of your Title IX office.

A great policy is only worthwhile if it reaches the people who need it. Be sure to share the policy widely and integrate it into handbooks and other orientation materials. Key locations for reaching students may include the student health center, parent groups, gender or women’s centers, student services, and family housing facilities. Further, if faculty are aware of the policy and engaged in its adoption, they are more likely to be supportive of the students who use it.

Clearly state that the Title IX Coordinator is responsible for ensuring your policy is followed, and the appropriate process for seeking assistance or making complaints.

Learn More

The University of Northern Colorado has created a toolkit for campuses looking to start a breastfeeding support program, including detailed information about how to create lactation spaces.

Breastfeeding Support Toolkit for College Campuses

Need Help?

Universities may have different policy formats or needs.  If you would like assistance in creating a policy, our team is available to provide assistance, and/or connect you with local contacts that can help.

Contact Us

New Title IX Regulations are HERE! To learn more and be the first to receive our updated materials, visit our Title IX Updates page.