Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Seventh Generation, an eco-friendly household and baby care product company, has introduced these nursing pods in New York City area airports

Seventh Generation

Happy Mother's Day, nursing mothers, you now get to sit in a pod. Four pumping and nursing stations have been installed in New York airports just in time for the big day, reports The New York Times. The pods are sponsored by the eco-friendly household and baby care product company, Seventh Generation.

The pods appear to be shaped like giant cans of tuna turned on their side, not much bigger than a photo booth and with none of the kitsch factor. They have a stark white interior and more-than-ample Seventh Generation branding both inside and out. There's a full-sized door that closes to maximize both privacy and claustrophobia. The press release dubbed them "lactation suites," but I'm pretty sure we can all agree that's a stretch.

Nonetheless, I understand why this seems like a good idea. There's been recent pressure on airports to provide facilities for lactating mothers to breastfeed or express milk in privacy and several have set up nursing stations.

Story continues below advertisement

Many women simply do not feel comfortable breastfeeding in public for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes it's the baby who doesn't do well in public and needs a quiet space to keep focused on feeding. Sascha Mayer is the co-founder and CEO of Mamava, the company that created these pumping and nursing pods. She says, "I personally had a child who would breastfeed anywhere, and a second child who needed a calm quite place to nurse. Many moms are nursing one baby in a public place and trying to keep track of a toddler. Our units have space for everyone to be comfortable and contained."

And almost everybody wants to pump breastmilk behind closed doors. For lactating mothers who are travelling for business (or travelling without their baby), a clean, discreet space is welcome. "The USA has no paid maternity leave," Mayer reminds me. "Moms in America have been pumping in bathrooms."

But not everybody is a fan of the nursing pod. The Times' Facebook share of this story received many comments criticizing the idea for making it seem like nursing mothers "need to hide." "People need to get over themselves," says one commenter. Another adds, "Omg. Americans are so phobic. Prudes!! Get over it already."

On the face of it, it does seem downright rude to suggest that breastfeeding mothers need to go sit in what one person described as an oversized tin can. Even if the nursing pods are only intended to be an option, won't at least some nursing moms feel like they're supposed to be breastfeeding in there?

There's also a larger concern, beyond an individual mother's comfort. Activists have long said that public breastfeeding is important because it helps to normalize breastfeeding. The more women are seen breastfeeding their babies in public, the more normal breastfeeding seems, and the more comfortable everybody will be around it. Any sort of separate feeding station will only serve to underscore the idea that breastfeeding is great, as long as we don't see you doing it.

Annie Urban is a prominent Canadian blogger who writes about parenting, feminism and social justice at PhdInParenting.com. "Mothers should be encouraged to nurse wherever they and the baby feel comfortable, whether that is in private or in public, covered or uncovered," Urban says. "So in theory, nursing pods are a great option for moms who desire more privacy and are certainly a better option than using a dirty washroom. In practice, however, when a designated space for nursing exists, it promotes the idea that breastfeeding should be hidden away. It also increases the likelihood that airport staff will ask or demand that mothers nurse in the pods instead of in public spaces."

Story continues below advertisement

Mayer thinks that far from covering up breastfeeding, the Seventh Generation-sponsored Mamava nursing pods publicize it. "We think of it as a billboard communicating that there are many, many breastfeeding moms who could use all the help they can get, actually bringing the discussion into the open," she says.

In any case, new moms have enough on their plates without feeling like they have to change the culture every time they need to feed their baby. If a mom prefers privacy for feeding, it's wonderful that she's not forced into a toilet stall at the airport. For the large number of working mothers in the U.S. who are pumping on the go, those pods look fantastic.

Of course, if the United States introduced longer paid maternity leaves, fewer moms would have to leave their nursing babies, but that's a topic for another day.

Rebecca Cuneo Keenan writes about parenting and culture, and blogs at Playground Confidential. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccakeenan.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies