Reebok Is Rethinking How to Help New Moms at Work
With newly renovated lactation rooms created by Inspired Start.
Coming back to work after having a baby is a big transition. According to the CDC, mother’s with children under three are the fastest growing segment of the workforce, yet one of the biggest barriers to continuing to breast feed is the lack of resources, support, and comfort to do so while at work. Reebok wanted to make sure their mothers weren’t feeling that way.
Inspired Start, a local baby food start-up, partnered with the activewear brand to remodel two lactation rooms at Reebok Headquarters in the Seaport, and they are so roomy and welcoming, they even hosted seven journalists in there for an interview. The walls are outfitted with decorations put together by a graphic designer, and twinkly lights dangle over a very comfortable rocking chair. Each room is fully stocked with snacks, a sink to wash out a breast pump in, and refrigerator, so employees don’t have to fit breast milk in a packed company fridge with people’s lunches. The fridge is also kept stocked with bottled water.
“In my experience, and from the women we’ve interviewed, most lactation rooms are converted closets that offer nothing more than stacked rolls of toilet paper,” Jessica Deckinger, chief marketing officer at Inspired Start, says. “We wanted to create a space where moms can go to have a private moment, do what they need to do, and leave feeling positive and ready to tackle the rest of their day.”
Lenka Patten, vice president of human resources at Reebok, says they wanted to find a better way to welcome new moms back from maternity leave and to make sure they have a good experience. “We want to make sure we’re helping our employees balance personal and professional life,” she says. “Becoming a parent is a big transition, and when it comes down to it, we wanted to make sure we were celebrating that.”
Sarah Lunn, senior marketing manager at Reebok, just came back from maternity leave and has been utilizing the lactation rooms quite frequently. “The rooms already existed, but they were pretty bare bones,” she says. “It’s nice that they are now a little more comfortable and homey so that you can come out of the space feeling decent about what you just experienced.”
Deckinger says they are in discussion with other companies around Boston and hope to launch in a bigger way after getting some good feedback from the mamas at Reebok. She says they want to eventually streamline the rooms so that they are easily maintained for companies but make a big impact for moms.
And while not every company can compete with Reebok’s in-building gym and smoothies, it’s a model for how rethinking lactation rooms (and, you know, having them in the first place) can make life easier on stressed out new parents.