As a new mom, I've felt very lucky to have a workplace that makes no complaints about my need to pump and that has a room for that purpose. Unfortunately, that room is attached to the first aid room (which requires a key) and, today, I found a woman in the lactation space who said she wasn't feeling well and was trying to find a place to rest for a bit.

Since the room is specifically for lactation usage, I had no issues telling her that I needed the space and I let her know that I would be finished in about a half hour. I didn't want to make someone already feeling unwell feel unwelcome but I'm concerned about transfer of whatever is making her feel poorly to me and to my baby.

I'm generally not an overly germ-conscious person and I know that many women don't even have the facilities that I do... but is it unreasonable for me to talk to our administration staff about preventing people who are sick from being in the lactation room? I don't think there are any legal requirements that the room must be only for lactation purposes.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – enderland
    Jul 19, 2017 at 1:34

2 Answers 2


This is an interesting problem: the room does have an intended purpose, in this case a 'lactation room', and the woman you discovered in there was not using it for its intended purpose. As sympathetic as you can be towards her problems, at the end of the day you are right in worrying about the spread of germs when this woman could have gone elsewhere.

There are two things to consider:

Firstly, that room could potentially be used by a number of women for its intended purposes, and some of them may be ill. You are likely at no greater risk of becoming ill because of this woman's presence than you would be on any other occasion.

Secondly, as the room has a specific purpose anyone using it for something other than this is technically taking that time away from someone like yourself who wishes to use it for its intended purpose.

That being said, I think it's acceptable to make known your concerns of people not using the room for its purpose, in that it interferes with someone, in this instance yourself, who wishes to use it. I wouldn't, however, make the 'illness' of this woman the main issue when you bring this up.

There is nothing wrong with voicing your concerns as long as they are constructively made without too much emphasis on things that are outside of your employer's control (people who are ill but who are still using the room for its intended purposes, for example).

tldr: It is more than acceptable to raise concerns about people not using the room for what it is intended, but in doing so try not to focus on the fact that in this case you found an 'unwell' occupant, simply that they were using the room and taking that time away from you who wanted to use the room for its intended purpose.

  • 2
    You are completely correct that I wouldn't be able to prevent this if other people using the room for its intended purpose were sick. I've been spoiled, I guess, as I've had it to myself now for several months, so I haven't thought about it that way.
    – Catija
    Jul 18, 2017 at 21:07
  • 2
    Great answer, I hadn't considered the scenario of those who are using it for it's intended purpose who are also sick. Valid points. +1
    – user66194
    Jul 18, 2017 at 21:42
  • 1
    In many companies there isn't enough space to dedicate a room for this purpose, especially when it's only needed for that purpose for an hour or so a day, so in my experience the policy is that anybody needing it for lactation can kick out anybody using it for other reasons, but it's not held in reserve otherwise. Asking for dedicated usage could be a hard sell in a smaller company with limited space and few lactating moms. Anyway, best to start by understanding what the intended policy is in a particular company. Jul 19, 2017 at 17:42

Let's say a person feels ill, finds a place where they can have a peaceful rest for half an hour, and you throw them out because it is the lactation room.

If that person was me, I might go to HR, say that there is no space available for a person who feels ill and needs a break, but there is this lactation room that is mostly unused. There is a good chance that you would find the "lactation room" sign removed soon after. You are not the only one who wants consideration for their needs.

  • 2
    They are legally required to have a space for lactating women. Also, Joe is correct there is a cot for people who feel unwell - so I'm not sure what your answer serves. Even if they won't prohibit access by sick staff, I still have the right to meet my legally-protected need in the space they have provided for me.
    – Catija
    Jul 19, 2017 at 13:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .