The Minnesota Vikings has announced plans to add two lactation suites to its stadium, to support breastfeeding fans.
It's no secret that the NFL has a shoddy record when it comes to women. Which is a shame because we comprise nearly half (45 percent) of all its fans and are its fastest-growing demographic. In the past, the league has tossed some pink jerseys in our direction and halfheartedly disciplined abusive players and hoped that was enough to keep us happy.
Thankfully, the Minnesota Vikings' front office got the clue and decided to offer its female fans something really useful: four lactation suites—two in the team's executive office and two in its stadium. The team is the first in the NFL to install these breastfeeding pods.
The breastfeeding-friendly rooms, which will be ready when the Vikings play the Kansas City Chiefs on October 18, offer a pretty sweet setup: Each of the Mamava pods measure 4 by 8 feet—not huge, but big enough for you, your baby, and a child, if need be. (And certainly larger—and cleaner—than a gross bathroom stall.) There's also a padded bench for comfort and an electrical outlet for your breast pump.
But the introduction of the pods doesn't mean you can't breastfeed elsewhere in the stadium. "Creating a family-friendly environment and a positive experience for all fans at our football games is paramount to the Minnesota Vikings," said Kevin Warren, the team's chief operating officer. "While we certainly encourage breastfeeding mothers to nurse where they feel comfortable, we have become increasingly aware of the need many moms have for the privacy and comfort that these Mamava lactation suites provide."
Not content to stop there, the team is also looking into the possibility of designating a special area for nursing moms who don't want to miss any of the excitement on the field.
In the meantime, I'll celebrate this little victory and, even though I'm a lifelong New Orleans Saints fan, maybe root a little for the Vikings this year. I'm also holding out hope that the other 31 teams quickly follow suit with their own nursing-friendly spaces. Heaven knows we have enough pink jerseys already.
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Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.