I read with interest about the new mother's nursing suite at the Cincinnati Reds' Baseball stadium. It's a private area for breastfeeding, bottle feeding and any other child care needs. It's equipped with gliders, a kitchen area with fridge, sink and ice, changing tables, restrooms, lockers and even toys for your toddler. Oh, and the game will be broadcast in the nursing room too, so no need to miss anything.
What a great idea and what a great way to show breastfeeding mothers (and all parents for that matter) that they have our support. I commend the Cincinnati Reds for being so supportive of mothers! It made me realize that we really need more public nursing rooms.
While I completely support breastfeeding in public wherever and whenever needed, it's also wonderful to have an option to get out of the public eye if that's what makes you comfortable. Wouldn't it be great if more public places had these kinds of nursing rooms? It's a great option for bottle feeding moms and mothers that need to pump as well. Even if you embrace breastfeeding in public fully, I am sure you know that pumping in public can be very daunting. Pumping in public can also be difficult if you need an outlet.
What if you have a distracted nurser?
My son was a great public nurser until about four months old when he became super distractible. He would eat for a few seconds, pull off and look around, then eat a few more seconds, repeat. So having a private area to get away was critical if I wanted him to have a good feeding. It really had nothing to do with my comfort level but everything to do with him. I think sometimes as breastfeeding activists we get very caught up in making sure women can breastfeed in public anywhere they want. And while this is extremely important and needs the activism to support it, lobbying for more private nursing areas for babies is needed as well.
We need more nursing rooms!
How great would it be if all public sporting stadiums could follow this example? Just as I was writing this post I heard about a petition that has been started to encourage my local baseball team, the Washington Nationals, to provide a mother's room at Nationals Park. What a great idea! I have heard stories of women needing to pump in the bathroom there, and while it is fine to breastfeed in your seat it can be difficult with a distracted baby or tight space.
This is something I have experience with myself. When my first baby was about 8 months old I attended a football game and had to pump in the parking lot while everyone tailgated around me. I then stored my milk in a cooler with ice and hoped it would stay cool enough in the car for several hours.
How about malls? While I can always find a quiet area in a department store restroom or dressing room, it would be nice to have everything needed for our babies in a central clean location.
Airports really need this as well. While some airports have installed nursing rooms it's very few. For mothers that are traveling without their baby and need to pump these nursing rooms are crucial. A study was conducted last fall, "Airports in the United States: Are They Really Breastfeeding Friendly?" to examine 100 of the busiest airports in the US for breastfeeding friendliness. It was found in the study, that of the 37 airports claiming to have a designated lactation room, 25 of them considered a bathroom to be the lactation room. Feeding your baby in a airport bathroom is not ideal and actually quite disgusting. Trust me, I know.. I have done it back when I was a nervous first time mom and could not find a single seat at a crowded gate. Only eight airports offered a room other than a bathroom that met the criteria for a lactation room.
A recent great example of a nursing area was found at my local county fair. I have attended the Fairfax County Celebrate Fairfax festival the last two years. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had an air conditioned trailer set up for parents (provided by INOVA healthcare system) with all the changing supplies needed and a room for breastfeeding. This was very welcome since the fair occurs in the summer and it was hot! I think we all know breastfeeding a baby in the sticky heat is not fun and babies need breaks from the heat as well. I have utilized this trailer the last two years while attending with my babies. It may seem like a small thing, but knowing it was there was a great comfort that added to the fun of our day.
You might be wondering why you should care about this..
If you are not breastfeeding or you are not a parent, then you maybe wondering why you should care or support this. Why should breastfeeding moms get special accommodations? Well, it really benefits all of us to support breastfeeding mothers and all parents. Mothers do not stop going out and enjoying themselves once they have a baby and it's unfair to expect that of them. I am pretty sure we all know parents, and have people in our lives that we care about who are parents. Sports stadiums, malls, airports, festivals and fairs, and amusement parks are all family friendly locations and destinations. It should be a public priority to accommodate all mothers and babies in these settings the best we can.
Check out some pictures of the new nursing suite at the Reds' stadium!
So...moms, let me know. What do you think of these nursing rooms and do we need more of them? Have you encountered a location with a great nursing room?