A Dear Colleague letter for breastfeeding moms

Building on Miriam Posner’s excellent blog post about the needs of breastfeeding event attendees, I’ve put together a short letter that you can lift for communicating about breastfeeding needs. I want to encourage people to proactively let organizers etc know that these are normal, acceptable accommodation requests. I’ve been watching the twitter conversation on this topic with horror – no job candidate should EVER face jokes or difficulties when on a campus visit while still breastfeeding, let alone be walked in on while pumping milk. So you might consider adopting this as a “Dear Search Committee Chair” letter too. I recently had to step in on behalf of a new colleague during an orientation when facilities staff insisted that she not store her breastmilk on campus. If you’re organizing an event or a search visit, make these plans in advance. Everyone will thank you.
Update: Caroline Drucker has a great piece on what to do if you’re inviting a speaker who is also a parent.

“Dear Colleague,

I am a lactating/breastfeeding mother and I am attending your upcoming event. Here’s what would be helpful for me in terms of accommodations:

a private, clean space that:

  • is proximate to the scheduled events (I am already bummed to be missing panels/speakers/etc and the less time I can take the better)
  • is available throughout the day
  • is private (door and shutters that close)
  • has some seating near a power outlet
  • a way to refrigerate the breast milk – perhaps there is a faculty lounge with a fridge or a facilities kitchen where the milk can be stored. Please do not put me in the position of having to argue with staff about health codes and my breast milk – it’s not contagious or a contaminent.
  • If there is no refrigerator access, a place to store a small cooler that will be accessible throughout the day
  • A safe place to store my pumping equipment that is also accessible during the day

I’ll bring all of my pumping equipment and storage vessels, along with a way to clearly label the contents – who knows, there might be several of us and we’ll need to distinguish our bottles!

Please note that a public restroom is not an acceptable solution. A single person restroom that locks and has a power outlet could do in a pinch, but is not ideal.

Thank you,


2 Replies to “A Dear Colleague letter for breastfeeding moms”

  1. […] breastfeeding and/or breastmilk producing moms at academic events and I followed up by providing a template of a “Dear Colleague” letter for use in communicating those needs. Both Miriam and I had recently had children at that […]

  2. […] Feel free to share others in the comment thread! In case you need it, I’ve also written a “Dear Colleague” letter template that you can send to organizers in advance of your travel letting them know your […]

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