Why Do We Need Lactation Rooms (and Legislation that Supports It)?

We are busy multi-tasking mamas, and many of us are breastfeeding and pumping for our babies on-the-go. So, what happens when you need some privacy when you’re out in public with your baby? What are public nursing or lactation rooms and how can they help? Are these area hurting or helping the breastfeeding/pumping cause? Today we’re talking about the importance of lactation rooms and legislation to support it.

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The Boob Group
Why Do We Need Lactation Rooms (And Legislation That Support it)?
Episode 165, July 13th, 2016

[00:00:00]
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
SUNNY GAULT: This Episode of The Boob Group is brought to you by, Rumina Nursing-wear. Hands free pumping and nursing tanks and bras to support your breast feeding goals. Visit www.pumpandnurse.com and save 20% with promo code BOOBGROUP20.
[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: We are busy, multi-tasking mommas and many of us are breastfeeding and pumping for our babies on the go, so what happens when you need some privacy when you are out in public with your baby? Where do you go? Today we are talking of the importance of lactation rooms and legislation to support it, we are The Boob Group. 

[Intro/Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Welcome to The Boob Group were here to support all moms who want to give their babies breast milk and to respect the choices of moms who want to feed their babies in other ways, I’m Sunny Gault thanks so much for listening. 

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Alright so let’s meet everybody that's joining our conversation today, I’ll kick things off I’ll tell you a little bit about me, so I’m Sunny and I’m kind of moderating our conversation today I have four kids and yeah let’s see my oldest is five a boy, then I have a four year old boy and then I have twin girls who are two and half and as far as lactation rooms are concerned I have used them out in public, Idon’t go out in public a lot because I have four kids and they are all really young and that's really crazy however I do find them to be very helpful when I’m out in public so that’s a little bit about me, Rachel tell us about you.

RACHEL JACKSON: Ok, my name is Rachel Jackson I am the mother of two boys ages three and five years old I’ve been practicing law for about 16 years and was often travelling for work and struggling with breastfeeding and pumping and trying to find a sanitary place to pump and I ended up having so many bouts of mastitis and plugged ducts because of it, that I ended up, I started giving up a lot of work because it was just too hard to pump. So I invented a medical device actually for breastfeeding women that helps to treat all those conditions, and then at the same time I started to become a real advocate for these issues like, breastfeeding in the work place, breastfeeding in airports in the sanitary place that is not a bathroom and so that’s my focus now.

SUNNY GAULT: Awesome, I love it when moms like see a need and they create a product like that, tell us the name of your website so people can check it out.

RACHEL JACKSON: Yes, its www.Rachelsremedy.com and it’s a moisty or cooling device that helps to increase milk flow, it’s great to use before pumping and it helps to relieve plugged ducts and mastitis and really good for travelling moms as well.

SUNNY GAULT: Awesome, well thanks for being with us.

RACHEL JACKSON: Thanks for having me, I’m happy to be here.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Well hi Sunny thank you for having me on I’m Priya, I’m a mom of three. My kids are a little bit older I have a 14 year old, a 12 year old and a eight year old I breastfeed and breast pumped for all three of them, my youngest I actually reseeded for three years and I’m also the co-founder of the MomsPumpHere nursing locater app, it’s a global nursing locater app that allows women to find places to breastfeed and breast pump. We have thousands of locations in seven countries and we just launched our second version this year allowing women to find place, comfy places and safe places to go, to pumping nurse.

MIKAEL SOLAGE: Greetings, my name is Mikael Solage, I am a new mother I have a 11 month old son, I’m a pumping mom on the go and you know, I like to nurse at home as well but most importantly I am a law maker in New York state and I’m advocating for a family friendly policy which include lactation rooms in airport and in public buildings. I want to make sure that every mom has a place where they can you know, nurse their child, where they can pump and is sanitary has electrical outlet in the chair. 

SUNNY GAULT: Awesome, and Rebecca? 

REBECCA JACKSON IRIS: Hello, my name is Rebecca Jackson Iris I’m an actor, a write, a stand up comedienne, are you surprised? I’m also a lactation specialist and a doula and those worlds do collide many times becauseI have to make women laugh as they learn how to breastfeed. I’m also a mom I call myself a momma of two and half children because I was blessed into a marriage of, with the daughter already I have a step daughter who I consider a daughter, I don’t say the word step she is 14 years old and she gets tired of me constantly telling her the power of the female body and how she better breastfeed my grandbabies.
I have two sons an eight year old and a six year old, they probably know more about lactation then most eight and six year old, because I bring them around with me to functions and community, activist meeting. I primarily work in the African-American community, I am a proud African-American sister and I do many of community activist events that I head and lead. I’m also right now working on a project with an amazing mental health organization here in Rally, North Carolina.  
What our goal is we provide, we started an organization called "Women’s voice" there a need for African American women to be acknowledged that we do get postpartum depression and we get it on top on having to deal with all the other stresses of racism in this world and so, right now I’m working with a program, working with pregnant moms, birth and post-partum moms and really targeting how we can really serve moms in underserved communities who are in low resource communities and really understand that they are supported and they are advocated for and that’s the work I’m doing.
SUNNY GAULT: awesome Rebecca thanks for being with us today, alright let’s take a quick break and we will come back with our first segment.

[Music Theme] 

SUNNY GAULT: Alright so before we kick off our episode today we have a segment called "Momma hacks" that we love because it’s your opportunity to reach out to us and share your favorite breastfeeding and pumping hacks, which you basically just little tips that you have learned that made the whole process a little more simple for you. The reason I started this segment is because, people were sending us tips and they were really great tips and I’m like ok more people that may have to know about this and just post into the Facebook wall was just not cutting it.

So this actually comes from Brittany and so Brittany says this is her hack, she says "Bring a sterilized spill proof dish with lid to store milk bags" and she is referring to milk bags after they've already been filled up, so after you've pumped, she says "I had few bags leak in my lunch box and lost the whole days milk" that just breaks my heart, I know right also she says if you pump a lot you can keep the pieces cold and go two to three sessions before calming everything usually once at lunch and again at the end of the day.

It really helps supply to nurse when dropping the baby off with care providers at lunch and then sick around day care when you arrive to nurse before heading home, she said she also she has a bunch of tips here, she says "I also ask my sitter to not give bottles within 30 to 45 minutes of my arrival" and I love especially that last tip. I’ve heard some of the stuff about, you know keep the pump parts cold, so that way you know keeps everything more you know, sanitarian stuff like that but I love the idea of saying to the baby sitter listen this is the time I’m planning to be home and within you know, the baby starts to cry or you know, you think the baby is hungry within 30 to 45 minutes me coming home wait, wait because I haven’t pumped in a while and there’s nothing more frustrating than coming home and your baby is full. 

RACHEL JACKSON: Yes and you want that baby to still want to breastfeed and not become to bottle depended if that, what your goals are but those are your goals, yeah you make that baby wait a few minutes and there you are full of milk. 

SUNNY GAULT: Yes.

RACHEL JACKSON: I agree with that. 

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, well Brittany thanks so much for sending this in if you are listening and you are like, I got this great hack that I want to share with The Boob Group audience, we would love to hear it, you can go to our website at www.newmommymedia.com and click the contact link at the bottomed if you want to email us also throw the website you can send us a voice mail straight through your computer, don’t even have to pick up a phone anymore, you can post to our Facebook page there’s a lot of different ways you can reach out to us, hopeful we will get it and we'll put it on a future episode for you.

[Music theme]

SUNNY GAULT: So today we are talking of the importance of lactation rooms for breastfeeding and pumping mommas while they are out in public. Many times these public locations were created as a result of legislation. So most of the moms joining us today they had some experience with creating legislation or supporting legislation in their states and so we're going to share their experiences  as we go along. Mommas welcome so much to The Boob Group we a red so excited to have you, let’s just dive in and talk about some legislation here, I think that’s the easiest way to talk about of something that is currently on the floor in New York and so Mikael I know that you have introduced a bill and you are also the prime sponsor of a bill and it’s about getting lactation rooms in the airports and this is for, is it for the whole state of New York or is it more like the new York city area? Can you tell us a little bit more about the bill?

MIKAEL SOLAGE: So we actually seek a New York seek to join Elinor in California with this bill that require all airports to provide a nursing space for breastfeeding moms and pumping mothers, behind the security screen area and we want to make sure that these areas are equipped with a chair, electric outlet and its away from public view. So we are and I’m proud to say we passed it in the New York state assembly, its moving on to the senate and we look forward for the governor to sign this.

SUNNY GAULT: How long does it take, I’m just curious from start to finish I mean if you introduce a bill, I mean that’s a lot of work right, so how long have you been working on this?

MIKAEL SOLAGE: So on average a bill takes seven years to pass you know to get some, you know past to both houses and to be signed by the governor but you know this is such an important topic and I introduced this bill last year and we are proving this is an important topic and we are getting it done this year. So this you know, this bill is just something that I think is a common sense piece of legislation that both sides of the isles support and that’s why it’s moving so fast through both houses.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s awesome, ok and know Rachel you have experience with this bill as well you know, helping Mikael and trying to get the word out there, tell us a little bit about your involvement?

RACHEL JACKSON: Yes, actually I found out about the federal bill and they knew about Mikael’s bill on the assembly floor and so I drafted a mirror bill and gave it to senator Kennedy, New York State Senator Kennedy and he really ran with it and introduced it to the senate and so together where Tim and Kennedy have been working with him to get approval for that, so I was lobbying in Albany and that’s where I got to meet Mikael and spoke with a lot of the assembly members, a lot of the senators and there was real overwhelming support for it. In fact so much that the Buffalo Niagara international airport constructed a lactation room before they require to, before the bill passes because as soon as they found out about it they wanted to show their support. So it’s already had an effect before its even passed.

I think a lot of the issue with this bill and this entire issue is that there’s just a lack of education about the need for it and I think this why not enough has been done yet, but when people do find out about all the struggles and the issues and the real health concerns that go along with women having to pump in places like bathrooms that are unsanitary that people do want to help, that they do want conditions to get better.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s really awesome. Ok so what would we say here is the overall goal and having legislation that encourages more public place to offer lactation rooms. Are we trying to get you know kind of the big fish if you will to set precedence and then other people will follow soon or do you guys think that really, you know in order to get more and more public places to offer this it’s going to have to be done through legislation this is just kind of the start of it? Mikael what would you say, what is your take on this having introduced this bill and kind of seen where things stand now?

MIKAEL SOLAGE: I really believe that once we implement in normal lives how breastfeeding through you know, public spaces, public areas and it’s going to be a domino effect and it’s going to be proof positive that people want to see this people want this in their communities and people want this in their private businesses so I think this is just a domino effect.

RACHEL JACKSON: I believe that too, partially but I also believe that because we already know that the importance of breastfeeding and the health benefits of breastfeeding and we also know that only 16% of mothers in the US breastfeed pursing to the academy, American academy of pediatrics recommendations of the six months exclusive and then up to a year. I think we need to back up that knowledge with legislation to support it for women because right now it’s too hard and a lot of place still are not moving fast enough to make the accommodations that we need to make mothers and babies healthier.

So I definitely think that this legislation is so important I also believe that will be a domino effect but that we still need to move and all the other states need to adopt it in family as well. 

SUNNY GAULT: Ok, is it easier just you know kind of, a little inside knowledge here about the legislated process. Is it easier if something, if a state has already adopted something and brought it in to its full if you will, is it easier for other states likes its far you know, can they literally take another bill and pretty much just write their state name on it and be like "yeah, this we want this too" like is it easier for things to follow sue, does that how it works?

RACHEL JACKSON: So it was mentioned before that, there is federal legislation so there’s friendly airports of mothers that was introduced by representative Tinny Duckworth and that’s basically requiring all federal airports to implement lactation rooms. So many of the states saw that this was a great idea and went to go implement it in their individual states and so it’s pretty easy you now, you could just you know copy and paste it and apply your state. But sometimes you have to little, you know, tweek it a little bit but you know every state is looking to implement some of these rules and we hope that the federal government will be you know, be implementing these rules Sonner then later. 

SUNNY GAULT: alright so I want to get some of the other mommas you know, involved in the conversation so I’m thinking you know, I don’t have anything to do with legislation at least up to this point I really haven’t got my hands dirty in that at all. So I can just speak about this from a mom point of view and I know when I have gone out and there have been sometimes businesses that in fact I was just at church, was it last night? And they, my church actually has a separate family room and then a spat lactation room and I was like " oh my gosh that is the coolest thing ever"

PRIYA NEMBHARD: That’s awesome.

SUNNY GAULT: I was so proud of my church last night, but there is other places right? there’s private businesses and sometimes you see this in the public as well and so I know it motivates me because I’m still breastfeeding my twins. I know it motivates me to want to support them, like because I feel they are on my team so to speak if they are going to stick their neck out there so they know a little bit in a way I feel like closer to them and I kind of want to support them a little bit more but Priya let’s get your take on this a little bit, you know I know you are not breastfeeding or pumping now so you know, you couldn’t have benefited of all the stuff is happening right now and the legislation but what is your take and I know you probably heard from moms too that are on the app and you know, they are reporting in and telling you about you know, these different types of lactation rooms so other moms can find out about them, so what’s your take on all of this?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: I hundred percent support Mikey’s legislation I think this is a very important move for women and for the country and you know we are so far behind from other countries so this is us, this is awesome that we are doing this and that’s another topic right?

RACHEL JACKSON: Yeah

SUNNY GAULT: Right it is.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: But coming from my stand point you know, I did have problems when I was breastfeeding and breast pupping and finding comfy place to go, I had to pump in my office way back when, o it was important for us to start the nurse room locater app because we didn’t want women to fall on the same you know, situation as we did you know, having to pump or breastfeed in the bathroom because if you are not going to eat in a bathroom or prepare a meal why should nursing mom basically, and I know that come up a lot. I think it’s kind of funny that you know we have to implement the legislation it is very important and we have to make sure that, there’s more support behind breastfeeding moms and breast pumping moms.

But there is so many nursing locations around the country and outside of the country, I mean we have lactation rooms in seven countries so we have its from retail stores, airports we have churches listed so Sunny you are more than welcomed to submit your church.

SUNNY GAULT: I have to add my church, yes.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: You can add your church and post it and I’ll share with the moms so they know its available, we have hospitals, stadiums, parks we have doctors’ offices, tons of different places that moms can go and we also have ratings and reviews so moms can talk about what’s available in those spaces. So you won’t always have like the higher nursing location that has tons of things in there like the fridge and the outlet you know, privacy and all that stuff but you might have a place that is semi pirate and you know, has a one little chair for you to use and you can go to and use it but you need to let moms know what’s available for them you know. But there are tons of different places around the country that are breastfeeding friendly and again it’s all about awareness and telling moms that these resources are available for them. 

SUNNY GAULT: ok, so when we come back we are going to dive a little bit deeper into these lactation rooms, we are going to talk about some of the possible concerns, we have been mentioning the benefits and I think all the mommas listening now have probably even understood most of the manifest before we start talking today but I do want to address some of the possible concerns with this, such as not normalizing breastfeeding because its being done behind closed doors so we are going to talk about that when we come back. 

[Music Theme]

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[Music Theme]

SUNNY GAULT: Welcome back, we’re are continuing our discussion about lactation rooms and mainly rooms in public places and we have been talking a lot about the benefits and the legislations. I do want to address some of the concerns that moms may have, that advocates of breastfeeding may have and then you know, I know Rebecca that you have some concerns with this so, so tell me a little bit about that?

REBECCA JACKSON IRIS: I might get a little controversial, that’s me. Laugh Sunny because you know me, I love myself anyway. So here’s the deal for pumping at work and maybe it’s because, let me just tell a little bit of my personal story and I might get little touchy but I was molested as a child. So growing up I wanted to shun my body, I wanted to cover my body constantly if you mentioned anything about body parts or breasts or whatever, I would flinch it was a scary thing.

So when I gave birth I have to really dealt deep into my soul to allow like these people to look at certain parts of my body and then after given birth, I have to say naturally I as handed this baby and told I had to put this baby to my breast which I totally was mentally prepared for like, on a level like yeah like I was all holistic and we were all earthy, artistic and I was like yeah but what I didn’t understand was when I put my baby to my breast I had to let go and deal with and face all the drama that I dealt with from years of facing what I faced as a child. I had no concept of what that toke you know.

So I had to get deep I had to get spiritual I had to get all sorts of things and the first six weeks of me breastfeeding my first son was so emotional for me, because I had to deal with a lot of things and I’m saying all this because once I got over that nursing in public was empowering beyond imagination. I had no idea breastfeeding can becomes like spiritual, you know and it became that. So I got to a point where I was like, I’m pumping, I’m pumping in your face, I’m pumping, m nursing in your face I don’t care, I’m nursing in church I’m nursing in the hospital, I’m nursing whatever and if you have anything to say about it, we can have a conversation and I’m going to school you and I did and my husband sometimes would tell me I became this like breastfeeding leger, like bear you know because I think I was so happy that had forgiven myself for all those years.

I say all that to say, that when I did work and I pumped at work, pumping at work I only went into a room because I knew other people had issues but I could pump at my desk, what up for? And then I also never, there was one time, one time in the five years that I breastfeed, because I breastfeed both my sons two and half years each and there was one time, when I was at my in-laws families gathering in Virginia and I was told, could I go upstairs to a room to breastfeed my son and I remember thinking like, excuse you no! So at that point I realized it was other people that had a problem, I didn’t have the problem, I was doing what I was naturally built made to do.

So I have a little issue with lactation rooms I don’t have, and I want to stress this I don’t have the issue when it comes to work and the sound of a pump can be really irritating to some people. But I have an issue when we are out here in the world and we have a momma we tell her she needs to go into a room and then she has to breasted in the room and then we have a problem with normalizing breastfeeding, it’s time to normalize if we are going to normalize it, let’s do some education in schools, let’s do some education in communities and lets empower women because now I deal with a bunch of women who I have to literally de-bug myths and help them re connect through socially the normalcy of breastfeeding.

RACHEL JACKSON: Lactation room issue, I know you said that you have a problem with it but it’s not just about women going in and nursing privately even though some women do prefer to do that and it is not necessarily because of what other people are thinking. It’s because they are more comfortable, the baby is more comfortable  in a quiet room and I know my baby, if I was just out in the airport nursing they would be looking everywhere my nipple would be on fire of how many times they ripped off looking around. So a private room was important for me not because I was worried what people were thinking but because breastfeeding was a lot easier for me that way, but in terms of pumping and I’m a very public person, there could be a camera on me right now I don’t care but pumping was the one thing I would never, I rather go to the bathroom in public than pump in public. It was so, I mean I just, I really didn’t want anyone to see it I just wanted to be alone it was a very private thing for me and I know a lot of women feel that way too, that they would rather not be seen pumping and so it’s really important to provide that.

REBECCA JACKSON IRIS: Yeah and that’s what I said, I stress the fact for pumping it makes sense.

RACHEL JACKSON: Yeah right.

REBECCA JACKSON IRIS: And I’m going to stress that for pumping it makes sense and I hear what you are saying about some women and some babies and first of all my sons were the biggest distracted and they are still like to get my eight year old to focus in his class, his teacher is constantly telling me you know, he drifts and I am like well his mother is an imaginative person too. You know, my sons are people watchers and they have been like that since the beginning but again and I hear what you are saying but what I am also, I’m getting a little deeper with it.

I deal with women who are in their 40's who've never seen a women breastfeed. I’m working with women who the concept of putting a baby to the breast is completely out of imagination because we have, we have grown women who have never ever seen another women breastfeed. I’m going to be honestly, we all can admit we've walked past rooms and we walked past rooms many times we subconsciously read what’s on the room but it’s never sunk in until somebody stops you and go that’s a lactation room, this where women breastfeed and you go "oh I get it".

So I feel like yes there is a positive to these lactation rooms and again if you feel empowered that you rather go in a room that’s great but again we have to understand this is not the pill, this is a bandage this is not a way to solve and heal the wound.

RACHEL JACKSON: It is a way to solve to solve and heal the wound of women travelling that quite breastfeeding because there is nowhere sanitary to pump, so it is much more than a bandage, I can disagree with you there. 

REBECCA JACKSON IRIS: And I’m going to stress that, said pumping I get it, I’m talking about putting a baby to the breast.

RACHEL JACKSON: I mean yeah, I understand what you are saying and I absolutely believe in normalizing breastfeeding I think that women should be able to breastfed wherever they want absolutely and I also believe if that includes going into a private room, that’s ok too we just have to respect you know what people what people are most comfortable with.

SUNNY GAULT: I also wanted to just like what happened to me at church last night where I saw you know, the sign lactation or whatever it said and I was like I just wonder that even having one of these rooms is going to start conversation because people are going to be walking by and seeing something that they haven’t seen before. You know I’ve seen some photos of some pretty amazing lactation facilities at like a baseball stadium I can’t remember who even did this recently but . . .

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Cincinnati!

SUNNY GAULT: Cincinnati! Yeah my home state, oh my gosh it was amazing and from that stand point I’m like wow I want to go to this game just to go and breastfeed or pump or whatever you want to do, so I often wonder if that will help a little bit too in  just kind of getting the word out there.

REBECCA JACKSON IRIS: It also would do the opposite, because, I am going to call some people in my family out which I’m sure hopefully they will never listen to this. But I have some people in my family they feel like you need to be in a room locked up and they will say that to the end, and they would applaud these lactation rooms because they will say, I don’t want to see no women with no baby at her breast and they are adamant. So I had to work through deep years of trauma with my family to just sit in a room while they play these categories or while they play taboo because wanted to play too and I wanted to sit there while I nurse and play taboo and luckily through years and now I have cousins who now had babies and luckily I have normalized breastfeeding with my family.

I had and truly I did that and I have now my family, some relatives they'll kind of squint but they go, you know what Becky you are right, but it toke me to say no, no I’m not going in that room and I’m not going to be shunned because I want to be a part of this family too and I want my sons and what I’m doing there’s nothing wrong with it.

MIKAEL SOLAGE: Rebecca you are totally right! And I might you implement some legislation require breastfeeding education in schools, so for high school maybe for college students we'll see what we can do.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: I don’t even think the affordable care act supports teachers, I don’t think it does, there’s a clause in there that doesn’t support teachers

RACHEL JACKSON: Yeah no. Teachers are not, and I know this because my husband is an academic administrator here in North Carolina he was also an academic administrator in Chicago public school and that was something that I was working in Chicago public schools is because in health education we teach about sex, we teach about STI's we teach about all these other public health issues. But we don’t teach, we tell them to walk around with a flower sack you know, but we don’t tell them how them to nurse their babes. We don’t tell these young women how to empower, and this is why you have breast this is the only reason you have breasts. So I pushed and pushed for that curriculum to be involved and of course there was a little operation and of course we all know, to a couple of schools have other issues so that was something that was not on their prime list.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Your point of view is so important Rebecca and you know from a business stand point, from a company that shares information about the lactation rooms that are available, we were very conscious about the message when we started. It wasn’t about you know covering up your breasts when you breastfeed. It was more about safety and comfort and just basically being comfortable not sitting on a toilet, but when we started we had so many moms we had like a focus group things like that, we wanted to make sure that we were telling women to breastfeed wherever they choose to and ewe are constantly putting that message out there, on our social media on our website let women know you can breastfeed a