Would you pay to breastfeed your baby in private? Would you pay to pump milk for your baby in private? Many moms say no way! But what if you weren’t a mom comfortable nursing in public? Are germ infested bathrooms your only option while traveling?
Just this week LaGuardia and Newark airport announced in partnership with Seventh Generation that they would be installing Mamava lactation pods in both airports. These freestanding pods provide a place for breastfeeding mothers to nurse or pump in private and feature bench seating, outlets, a fold-down table and power supply for pumping, as well as space for luggage or a stroller. All of the pods are provided free of charge.
This week also came an announcement that Philadelphia International Airport would offer breastfeeding rooms. For the rooms, they will be partnering with Minute Suites, a micro-hotel with 13 rooms inside airport security. The rooms are 7×8 feet, include a daybed sofa, TV, work station, sound suppression system, temperature controls, and free internet (no bathrooms inside).
Sounds great, right?
Not so fast. There’s one gleaming difference in the two announcements. Philadelphia will only allow for 30 minutes of time for free. After that they will charge a breastfeeding mother $14 for every 30 minutes needed afterwards. While some mothers, may still feel like this is a great idea because it ensures that the rooms won’t be held up and 30 minutes is an adequate amount of time for most mothers to pump, I can’t agree. Not all mothers can pump in 30 minutes and not all mothers are comfortable nursing in public, even though in Pennsylvania a breastfeeding mother has a legal right to nurse or pump in public. Therefore by giving them a timeline of 30 minutes or be faced with a fee, it may make it even harder for these mothers to sufficiently pump. Also, according to Minutes Suites website, a normal fee for ANYONE to rent one of these rooms for 30 minutes is only $19. In essence, Philadelphia airport is offering a $5 discount to breastfeeding mothers, while touting they have breastfeeding rooms to make it seem like they are breastfeeding friendly. Yes, the first 30 minutes are free, but why not install the Mamava pods like other airports are doing or covert rooms that aren’t being used for breastfeeding mothers, like other locations in Philadelphia have done (such as the Please Touch Museum) and not charge breastfeeding mothers at all. Why are breastfeeding mothers subjected to a time limit at all?
As while yes, this may be a step in the right direction, it’s hard to ignore some facts. Over 55% of mothers with a child under one are working moms. It is guaranteed that many of them will have to travel for work. And while most employers must provide a private lactation area that is not a bathroom, public places are not always so accommodating. According to a recent study, only 8 airports (out of 100 surveyed in the US) actually meet the private standards for a breastfeeding area, even though 62% of those airports say they are breastfeeding friendly. Many public places have began to have designated nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers, but it seems that Philadelphia International Airport still has a long ways to go to understanding and accommodating traveling breastfeeding mothers.
**We reached out to Philadelphia Airport for comment on this post, but at time of publication had not received a response.
Airports are an unusual place because they don’t have many alternatives. At the mall my wife will use a fitting room at one of the stores, but an airport wouldn’t have that option.