Last month, new and future moms at the Celanese Florence, Ky., site got a very meaningful Mother’s Day gift from Celanese. The Florence Women’s Impact Network (WIN) partnered with site leadership to establish a Mother’s Room where they can comfortably and conveniently pump during their work day.

Returning to work after the birth of my son was difficult, to put it mildly. Sure, part of me was anxious to regain a slight sense of normalcy and solve some problems that didn’t involve diapers. But those first weeks of being separated from that tiny human to whom I’d become so irrevocably attached–those were heart wrenching; not to mention the stress of finding child care, balancing the new list of responsibilities, and adjusting to a new sleep schedule.

For mothers who choose to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, this transition comes with additional challenges. Finding time to pump while maintaining all the demands of a normal work schedule is exhausting. The situation is even worse when the accommodations for pumping are less than ideal. While the transition back to work will always be challenging, the new Mother’s Room will make it a little bit easier. The room is equipped with the following amenities:

· Sink
· Refrigerator
· Microwave
· Phone
· Desk
· Chair
· Washing and sanitizing supplies
· A locking door to ensure privacy
· Individual locking cabinets where mothers can securely store supplies
· Sound machine to block out noise from the surrounding spaces
· A bulletin board where they can post pictures of their families

Coincidentally, the very first day the room was available for use (the week after Mother’s Day!), Celanese hosted approximately 35 visitors from our customers Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon for a technical exchange meeting. Two visitors from this group required a place to pump, and were able to use the new space. One often hears horror stories about mothers forced to pump in supply closets and bathroom stalls and undoubtedly, these women visiting our site would have been prepared for such a scenario. Any mother who has pumped for a significant amount of time has had to make due with a range of circumstances. No fridge? Not to worry, we will find some ice. No sink? That’s ok, we brought a second set of sanitized accessories. A pumping mother is almost always prepared. Still, every workplace should make an effort to provide more than just the bare minimum for mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding.

The new Mother’s Room is an important show of support for women, families, and work-life balance. I am so proud to work for a company that possesses these values, and to have had the opportunity to demonstrate this to an important customer. One of the visitors later reached out to express her gratitude for our accommodations: “It is always nerve wracking thinking about having to be offsite and figure out ways to pump. This was definitely a stress reliever knowing I had a place to pump and store milk and wash accessories.”

The support and coordination for this project came from a diverse group, which I found especially impressive and encouraging. The efforts were supported by mothers of young children, as one might expect, but also by many men and several people with grown children or no children. It was truly heartening to see this group come together and champion the project. As the saying goes, raising children “takes a village,” and this undertaking was no exception.

On behalf of all the breastfeeding mothers at the Florence site, I would like to say thank you to everyone who worked to make this happen, and great job on continually making our company a more family-friendly place to work.