UTM installs its first lactation pod for breastfeeding
The Mamava-designed lactation pod on campus will protect breast feeders’ privacy while providing helpful amenities to improve breastfeeding experience.

In a 2010 study conducted by Dr. Patricia Kelly Spurles, 66 per cent of participants were opposed to breastfeeding in public spaces. Knowing this has made parents feel uncomfortable when feeding their infant in public. To address the lack of privacy for breastfeeding, the University of Toronto Mississauga’s (UTM) newly installed Mamava-designed lactation pod provides total concealment for its user, a step above the current breastfeeding options available.

Breast feeders often lack the privacy needed to provide their infant with essential nutrients. This leads to less breastfeeding, negatively affecting both the breast feeder and infant. According to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, women who breastfeed for more than 12 months have a lower risk of ovarian cancer in comparison to those who never breastfeed. Additionally, breastfed infants have a significantly lower risk of acute ear infection compared to their non-breastfed counterparts.

In an analysis conducted by Western Sydney University professors Athena Sheehan, Karleen Gribble, and Virginia Schmied, many social norms and limitations cause breastfeeding in public to be complicated and unsecure for women. This can lead to mothers forgoing breastfeeding in open spaces and bottle-feeding infants with milk formula instead, which can be consequential. The use of formula often does not replicate the nutrients an infant gets from breastfeeding. Hence, formula-fed infants are more susceptible to illnesses such as various respiratory diseases, diabetes, and asthma later in their childhood.

A study conducted by professors Cristina Borra, Maria Iacovou, and Almudena Sevilla in 2015 shows that breastfeeding can lead to a reduced risk of postpartum depression as long as the breast feeder has always intended to breastfeed their infant.

This is where the invention of lactation pods arose—from both the lack of privacy and social stigma revolving breast feeding, and from the researched benefits of breastfeeding.

The Mamava lactation pod was invented by co-founders Sascha Mayer and Christine Dodson, with its first pod installed in the Burlington International Airport in Vermont in 2013. The pods are sterile, clean, and offer complete privacy. They are also wheelchair and stroller accessible and provide ergonomic comfort. Inside the pods there is a shelf, mirror, and outlet for breast pumps, as well as excellent lighting and devices that generate white noise for added privacy. In addition, all surfaces in the pod are food-grade, non-absorbent, and the pod is ventilated with 35 air exchanges per hour.

At UTM, the pod is located on the first floor of the Communications, Culture, and Technology Building, in front of the art gallery and Multimedia Studio Theatre and is available from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

To access the pod, one must download the Mamava App on the App Store or Google Play. The user can utilize Bluetooth to unlock and lock the pod. The app will provide a list of pods nearby along with their vacancy or the approximate availability schedule. Users can also suggest locations where pods can be added. The pod’s lighting, airflow, and sound can be adjusted through the app. Various guides are available on the app such as breastfeeding tips, and notes of encouragement left from parents in each pod. 

If parents are looking for other breast feeding and family spaces around campus, there are spaces located on the second floor lounge and in Room 224 of the Academic Annex. There are additional spaces on the third floor of the CCT building, in the seating areas on the second and third floors of the Instructional Centre, and on the couches and chairs in the UTM Woman and Gender Equity Centre in the Maanjiwe nendamowinan building.

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