CSUN opened its first lactation module on March 28 in the lobby of Bayramian Hall at the request of the university’s Institute for Community Health and Wellness, also known as HWB. The carrycot is intended to give breastfeeding people the privacy needed to pump milk and it also has a range of features aimed at comforting parents.
CSUN now has six lactation areas located in Santa Susana Hall, Klotz Student Health Center, University Student Union, Sequoia Hall, Michael D. Eisner College of Education, and Bayramian Hall Pod.
The HWB has been working on lactation spaces since 2013, when the first space was established at Santa Susana Hall, according to Cassidy Butow, HWB’s administrative coordinator. Spaces are designated rooms on campus that parents can use to breastfeed. However, the biggest project was to buy the pod.
The Mamava Pod differs from other lactation spaces because it is controlled by a phone app where nursing parents can check if it is available for immediate use. The app also has other features that help the parent improve their pumping experience.
“The lactation pod is very unique from other CSUN spaces because you can use the app to see if anyone is currently using it and once inside you can play music, control lights and create a different airflow,” said Aymie Ballesteros. , a project coordinator for the HWB.
The pod was purchased from Mamava, a manufacturer of lactation pods. It costs $38,695 and was paid to use funds from the campus quality levy, according to Butow. Campus quality fees are included in student tuition.
The pod’s location is in an ideal spot on campus, according to Ballesteros.
“Bayramian Hall is the only place where everyone comes. It’s the first place you visit as a student, parent or teacher. Treasury services, financial aid, international studies, they are all in this hub,” she said.
The pod feels like a safe space for Kayla Kaiser, a part-time faculty member of CSUN’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who is in her lactation phase.
Kaiser said all the features help her feel calm and connected to the pump like her child is in her arms. She said it can be a strange feeling not having the child there while breastfeeding.
“Sometimes women don’t respond well to pumping because their babies aren’t there,” Kaiser said.
Even though CSUN now has six spaces, she thinks CSUN should expand its lactation areas across campus.
In the event of extreme weather conditions, it is discouraging for Kaiser to go and pump in another building. She works in the Eucalyptus, Citrus, and Magnolia rooms, all of which lack a lactation area.
“It would be nice to have it in other buildings. Right now there isn’t even a lactation space in the building where I work, so I have to pack all my things, go to the other building, unpack, pump, pack again and get back to work” , she said.
Kaiser thinks it’s important for parents to have access to lactation rooms.
“As a woman and as a person, it is important to get milk out regularly, otherwise I can have [my milk] clogged and it can get infected and eventually cause mastitis,” Kaiser said.
Crystal Martinez is a sociology student at CSUN who used the lactation zones from 2019 to 2020. She said she liked using the university’s accommodations.
CSUN helped schedule her pumping sessions in buildings next to those in which she had classes. Martinez also added that the spaces had refrigerators and microwaves, which helped her store her pumping gear. The university also allowed her access to the faculty and staff room, which had a sink to clean up whatever she used to pump.
Butow said that, at this time, there are no plans to purchase a new pod or expand lactation areas.
“Rather than adding more spaces, there is a need to increase the visibility of those who are already there,” she said.
While Martinez thought CSUN’s accommodations for breastfeeding parents were adequate, she thinks the school should do more to educate people about them.
Butow says using social media and posting signs in restrooms or other areas on campus where a breastfeeding person might go to pump will help raise awareness of lactation spaces.