TEXAS (KTRE) – It's a part of health care reform, designed to help ease the transition for new mothers returning to the workplace.
The Affordable Care Act was signed by President Obama in March 2010. With it came the Nursing Mothers Law--- providing moms on the job with a safe place to breast feed.
Nurse Katie Gregory returned to work at the Nacogdoches Medical Center six weeks after having her first baby boy.
"Just leaving him at all was hard and then you know I feel like being able to pump while I'm away from him, I can still provide milk for him when I'm not at home," said Gregory.
Gregory visits this lactation room, a comfortable space created for her and other new moms' privacy.
The room has been available for nursing moms for six years.
"They come to a quiet place, a secure place and still keep that connection going. It helps them come back to work and be more productive," said Director of Women Services at Nacogdoches Medical Center, Melanie Miller.
A new provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law says employers must provide nursing mothers with reasonable break time and a private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk while at work up until the child's first birthday.
Memorial Hospital in Lufkin is working to comply, building a new lactating room.
"We really want to create a good healthy environment for moms to lactate with their children, their babies," said Human Resources Manager, Amelonee Amie.
It's a challenge.
"The government gave us a mandate to do it but they didn't furnish us with the funds," said Amie.
A challenge the hospital is excited about-- they believe it will help increase morale among employees, very much the case at Nacogdoches Medical Center.
"We feel like that if they have more of a breast feeding friendly environment that the moms are more likely to continue to breast feed," said Miller. "Usually the babies that are breast fed have less sick days and the mom will be out of work less days being home with a sick baby."
"It makes all the difference in the world," said Gregory.
Other employers must follow suit, providing new moms like Gregory with the support they need to continue nursing at the workplace.
We contacted some local employers with a high number of female employees to find out if they are in compliance.
Target and Best Buy say they have set aside private spaces for new moms.
We left a message with Wal-Mart's corporate office but did not hear back as of news time.
For a link to more information related to workplace lactation programs, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers.