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Lactation Support Frequently Asked Questions

Lactation room locations & access

Where are the lactation rooms located on campus and how do I request access to the rooms?

Where are the lactation rooms located on campus and how do I request access to the rooms?


When are the lactation rooms open? Whom can I contact if I have trouble getting into the room?

All lactation rooms and access services are available during business hours. If you have any difficulty in accessing a room after you have registered, please contact during business hours.

Once you receive access to a specific room, access to that room is permitted 24/7 by the registered user, pending availability. In the event of any access issues after business hours, please call the non-emergency number for Northwestern University Police at 847-491-3254 or extension 1-3254 and someone can meet you to open the door.

Access to lactation rooms

Is there an expiration date assigned to my WildCARD lactation room access?

Yes. Your card is valid for lactation room access for 12 months after activation. If you require more than 12 months access to a lactation room, please contact

I divide my time between both campuses. May I request access to more than one lactation room?

Yes. Please refer to Rooms Locations.When requesting access, provide the names of the rooms to which you require access.

If my school or department has a guest that needs access to a lactation room, how do we request access on their behalf?

Please contact as soon as you are made aware of the request. Your (faculty/staff/student) WildCARD will be activated for access and you will be provided with access to the Outlook calendar system.

Lactation room equipment & milk storage

Is there a refrigerator available in all of the lactation rooms?

No. Not all rooms have a refrigerator. However, refrigerators are available in Rebecca Crown Center and The Women’s Center.

How do I store expressed milk if the room I am using does not have a refrigerator?

According to the CDC, you may store your milk in a cooler bag with an ice pack for up to 24 hours.

Which kind of breast pump is recommended? Does the University provide breast pumps?

For employees enrolled in University Health Insurance, review the “Special Beginnings” program offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Employees will have access to informational articles, pregnancy calendars, helpful videos, and other useful maternity information. Coverage may also include the rental or purchase of a dual electric breast pump or a manual breast pump at no cost to you. This means you do not have to pay a copayment, co-insurance, or a deductible. If you are eligible, you’ll also be fully covered for breastfeeding support. Covered services are only available from Blue Cross/Blue Shield contracted providers with a prescription. Please contact Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois at 1-800-327-8497 for more information.

If you have additional questions, please contact

Hosting a lactation room

My unit/department would like to create a lactation space. How do we begin the process?

Contact Facilities Management or Work/Life & Family Resources to review your plan.

  • Each lactation room is generally equipped with the following:
  • Secure access to room via WildCARD registration
  • Ventilation, air-conditioning and heat
  • Window blinds
  • Power outlets
  • Accessibility. Able to accommodate mothers with disabilities, including those using wheelchairs
  • Sink in the room or nearby (with soap and towel dispenser)
  • Chair, non-caster and upholstered, with arms and back support
  • Within a reasonable walk for women in designated zone
  • “Lactation Room” signage and sign-up instructions
  • Adjoining or nearby bathroom
  • Proper sanitation arrangements (disinfecting hand soap and surface cleaner, trash can)

Additional support and accommodations

What legal protections do I have?

Pregnant and lactating workers are covered under both the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act). These laws provide protections for lactating and accommodations.

The PWFA Act guarantees workers the right to receive reasonable accommodations for temporary limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions except for requests posing undue hardship to the employer.

The PUMP Act requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time and a private space that is not a bathroom for lactating workers (regardless of gender) to express milk for up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child.

How can I request an accommodation?

If you are looking to request a reasonable accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition, contact the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance (OCR) at or 847-467-6165. You will also need to complete the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form.

What type of accommodations can be provided?

Examples of reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Flexible scheduling for prenatal or postnatal appointments or morning sickness
  • Remote work
  • Additional, longer, or more flexible breaks to drink water, eat, rest, or use the bathroom
  • Temporary transfer to a less physically demanding or safer position
  • Limiting exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Leave or time off to recover from childbirth, even if the employee does not qualify for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Leave or time off for bedrest, recovery from miscarriage, postpartum depression, mastitis, and other pregnancy-related health issues
  • Providing equipment such as a stool to sit on or an ergonomic keyboard

As a manager, where is the best place to go for questions and support?

It is to your benefit to ffamiliarize yourself with the different types of leaves of absence and the resources offered at Northwestern for parents and other caregivers. When an employee discloses a pregnancy, you should congratulate the employee and let the employee know of the resources and support available for prospective and current parents, if they would like.

HR Well-being team is available for both individual new parent consultations and manager consultations on supporting new parents, including help in navigating the employee’s transition to and from leave.