Lactation education

Schools are finally starting to install lactation modules and we love it

You may have seen these futuristic pods planted in airports, but now there’s one for students and teachers looking to privately groom or pump at the University of Toronto, Mississauga.

Breastfeeding openly in public isn’t considered too outrageous these days. Even Pope Francis encouraged mums to open nurse at the chapel a few years ago, after a long history of forcing them to go to the toilet to feed their young.

But it wasn’t always like that. It was quite common for moms to be ashamed of for breastfeeding if they were not fully covered. Several years ago, after some high-profile incidents where mothers were asked to leave a public space while breastfeeding, the City of Toronto launched a campaign to let people know that breastfeeding is a human right, and it made a big difference.

Yet despite the growing awareness of breastfeeding and breastfeeding, and a growing openness to the fact that babies need to eat, whether by bottle or breast, it is not always easy for parents to find a comfortable place to feed their baby or pump milk away from home. For college students, who often don’t have the same opportunities to stay home on parental leave with their infants, comfortable places to feed their babies or pump their milk can be particularly important.

The University of Toronto, Mississauga (UTM) campus is working to fill this gap. It recently became the second post-secondary institution in Canada (after Humber College in Toronto) to offer a Mamava lactation module to its students.

You may have seen a lactation capsule before, perhaps in an airport or retail store. They are self-contained spaces that provide a clean, comfortable, and private option for breastfeeding or pumping.

Although the U of T already offers a number of food and expression points on all three campuses, the options are not always inviting or accessible. Often the suggested locations are tied to the 9-5 office hours, so they are not useful for many students, including those taking evening classes. For parents who pump, doing so in public may seem a little more awkward, requiring equipment and an electrical outlet.

“Before COVID, we had a pressing demand to find resources almost immediately for a student, as we had no places available in the evenings,” explains Kaye Francis, manager of the Family Care Office, in a recent article on the Site. University website. “We started looking for new options.” The module is open to students, staff, and even those visiting campus for workshops or meetings.

Installing the Mamava pod is another step in UTM’s commitment to providing an inclusive environment for everyone. Of course, a one-site module is just the start, says Jennifer Hartman of UTM’s communications office. “As students have been gradually returning to campus since February 2022, this year will provide us with more insight into reactions to the pod and frequency of pod use,” she says. “The need for additional modules (at UTM or on one of the other two campuses) will be determined based on the use of this module and feedback from the university community.”

The Mamava pod is designed to be comfortable and offer complete privacy, is wheelchair accessible and includes two benches, electrical outlets, mirror, lighting, shelves, Bluetooth SmartLock and charging station. Access is free and controlled by the Mamava app, available on the App Store or Google Play, meaning it’s designed for standalone access. No appointment is necessary and access is on a first-come, first-served basis, with in-app notifications letting you know when the unit is available.

Nursing and breastfeeding parents should be allowed to feed their baby or express milk anytime and anywhere they want to, but everyone is different and some still prefer total privacy. Pods like the ones at UTM give parents more options and more flexibility. Post-secondary schools across Canada, take note!