Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Vonzell Agosto, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Allyson Duffy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amber Dumford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Miller-Hughes, Ph.D.


accomodations, lactation, women, work/life balance, workday


This study examines the experiences of classroom teachers who are lactating and expressing milk in a situation with or without school/district policies related to lactation and breastmilk expression. As there is little in the published literature that describes postpartum K–12 teachers' experiences while pumping breastmilk in the workplace. There is a need for studies that highlight these experiences and explore how policies impact breastfeeding teachers. The study was guided by three research questions: (1) How do classroom teachers who are, or have been, lactating and expressing milk during their workday experience school/district policies related to lactation and breastmilk expression? (2) What organizational, supervisor, and co-worker support do these classroom teachers receive during their workday? (3) What barriers or challenges do these classroom teachers experience during their workday?

A Qualtrics survey was created using a modified version of a preexisting Breastfeeding and Employment Study toolkit (BESt). The surveys were disseminated on Facebook via groups that targeted women who breastfeed their child(ren) and through participants who shared the survey post with others. The population is a non-probability purposeful sample of K–12 teachers who have pumped or are currently pumping breastmilk during their workday. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed in this study.

The results show that teachers are able to pump, but are met with challenges with a school culture and environment that is not conducive to pumping or personal needs. Furthermore, with a lack of clear policies, teachers traverse an atypical terrain of navigating the logistics of pumping while also fulfilling their roles as mother, teacher, and employee. The implementation of comprehensive policies in all states and districts could lead to increased retention rates, better health outcomes of the teacher and her child, and increased motivation to enter and remain in the field. Keywords: K–12 teachers, breast pumping, policy, accommodations, workday, work/life balance