SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - A Burlington company has opened its first
breast-feeding and pumping station at Burlington International Airport,
hoping to replicate the experience at airports and workplaces across the
Mamava co-founders Sascha Mayer and Christine Dodson
have dealt with the difficulties of trying to breast-feed their babies
and travel, both for work and recreation. Mayer remembers trying to use a
breast pump in an airport bathroom, not a pleasant experience.
lot of people breast-feed in the public. We totally welcome that if you
have that comfort level," said Gene Richards, Burlington International
Airport's director of aviation who paved the way for the lactation
station here. "But for people who want privacy, we want to make sure
they have a place to do it."
The Mamava, Spanish for "Mama
goes," offers security, privacy and a clean, well-lit space outfitted in
Corian, the same solid surface used for countertops and food
preparation. And it is located after the security lines, on the second
floor near Gates 1 to 8 in a spot that used to have pay phones.
colors are bright and cheerful with two facing benches in white Corian
and a fold-down table between them. An outlet to power breast pumps is
below the table. The curved ceiling and recessed lighting give a sense
of spaciousness, even though the enclosed area takes up only about 20
square feet, Richards said.
"Everything in there is meant to be
used and cleaned," said John Abrahamsen, a designer and project manager
for G3K in Springfield, Vt., which is manufacturing the Mamava.
of the pod is free. At the Burlington airport, Zutano, a children's
clothing manufacturer in Cabot, Vt., is sponsoring the location.
feel like this is such an important piece to acknowledge the needs of
working mothers, and address the balance between taking care of their
babies and going back to work," said Michael Belenky, co-founder of
Zutano. "It's not an easy transition."
More than three-quarters
of babies begin life being breast-fed, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. But by 6 months of age, the number
declines to less than half. By 12 months, a little more than a quarter
of babies are breast-feeding.
Now that support for breast-feeding is written into federal law, Mayer said she felt this was a good time to launch Mamava.
Affordable Care Act makes it a legal mandate if you have more than 50
hourly employees, which is a lot of places, to provide a space other
than a bathroom for breast-feeding, and there's legislation in the works
that goes across all worker classes," Mayer said.
unit at the Burlington airport would sell for about $3,500, she said.
The company is also developing "pop-up" portable units that would sell
for around $1,200 for use by companies and others who have an
"A school, for example, might not have a
breast-feeding mom every year but when they do they can install a
Mamava," Mayer said of the portable units.
Mayer said her
motivation for starting the company was not so much profit as fairness.
She read a New York Times article in 2006 that detailed how executives
at Starbucks were treated much differently than baristas with access to
private space for breast-feeding on the job.
"The idea that I had
the privilege, but a teacher, a nurse, a woman at Walmart wouldn't have
the same privilege is a social-justice issue," Mayer said. "That's what
we're trying to solve."
Michael Jager, founder and chief
creative officer of JDK Design where Mayer and Dodson also work, is a
partner in Mamava along with G3K. He said the company is talking to
Starbucks about the Mamava, along with other corporations such as
Marriott hotels and even Chinese government officials.
does not plan to stop with the breast-feeding and pumping station, which
Jager said could wind up in locations across the USA and around the
"Once you solve a problem like this we can solve other
design problems," Jager said. "We have the right and the responsibility
to keep the movement going, and make it as clean and smart for women as