Air Travel Is About to Get a Little Easier for Breastfeeding Moms
Thanks to new laws and companies making cool lacatation stations, airports will be friendlier to nursing mothers in the near future.
Good new for breastfeeding mamas on the go: the lack of adequate accommodations for nursing is currently being addressed at a number of airports. Can I get an a-men?
Special spots for breastfeeding are not yet universal, by any means. But we've definitely seen progress since 2014 when a survey of 100 airports attempted to determine which airports offered the minimum requirements for a breast-pumping mother—a private space, other than a bathroom, with a chair, table, and electrical outlet.
At the time, an impressive 62 airports reported being breastfeeding friendly. But it turns out, 25 of them had erroneously counted unisex and family restrooms as legal lactation spaces. So the actual number of airports that met the minimum requirements? Eight.
Pretty pathetic. But since then, both Illinois and California have passed laws requiring large airports to provide lactation rooms that are separate from public restrooms, according to Runway Girl Network. And in April, the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration passed by the U.S. Senate included a provision requiring major airports to provide lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers within two years.
The bill still has yet to become a law, however. But in the meantime, more and more airports seem to be getting on board, offering up either specially-designed spaces for moms or free-standing nursing pods. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies at both Austin-Bergstrom International and San Antonio International were held on—when else?—Mother's Day for freestanding nursing "suites" made by Mamava, which installed its first test nursing station in 2013 at Vermont's Burlington International Airport.
Have you seen these things? They're pretty cool. Each 32-square-foot pod has a fold-down table, two benches, a USB outlet, and, most importantly, a door that locks. According to Mamava, the interior of each movable unit is large enough to comfortably fit a mom, her luggage, her additional children, her partner, and/or her stroller.
Not too shabby! Because like their tagline says, breastfeeding should be a right, not a privilege.
In fact, the suites are now so popular that there are 26 of them installed in 13 U.S. airports, including Oakland Int'l, Jacksonville International, Palm Beach Airport, Boise Airport , Newark Airport, JFK, LaGuardia Airport, Spokane International Airport, Milwaukee's General Mitchell Airport, and Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Other airports, meanwhile, are simply adding full-on breastfeeding rooms. Two of the latest additions include Bradley International Airport in Connecticut and Portland International.
We're getting there!
For a complete list of airports pimped out with special spaces for nursing mamas, check out momaboard.com.