Before Rebecca Ewing became a mother, she didn’t think too much about the challenges of breastfeeding a child. The value of private space in a building set aside for breastfeeding was something she’d never really considered.
“But it really is a big deal,” said Ewing, who now has a six-month old daughter.
Ewing, a lecturing fellow in Duke’s Spanish Language Program, often uses the lactation space in the Friedl Building to pump breast milk between classes. It’s one of 24 University and Health System lactation spaces that are overseen by Duke Human Resources.
And now, as part of the Healthy Duke initiative, resources available to new mothers will grow.
Duke is purchasing several freestanding lactation pods for use in its three hospitals to supplement the lactation rooms that Duke Human Resources maintains. The lactation pods, made by Mamava, offer privacy and come equipped with two benches, occupancy-activated lighting, a fold-down table and mirror, ceiling vents and exhaust fan, power outlets and USB ports for plugging in a breast pump and charging electronic devices.
“We’re really trying to make things easier for new moms,” said Antwan Lofton, assistant vice president for Staff and Labor Relations, a unit in Duke Human Resources. “We want to keep our ear to the ground and meet the needs of our employees and their families.”
The first of these pods, which will be available to Duke students, staff, faculty and visitors, will be installed at Duke Regional Hospital. The process of evaluating potential spaces for other pods in existing buildings is underway.
The lockable pods can be accessed for free through a mobile app. Duke community members and visitors can use the Mamava mobile app, available in either the Apple or Google Play app store, to identify the location of mobile pods and whether they are in use or available.
“We welcome breastfeeding anywhere, in any of our waiting rooms, in any of our public spaces,” said Emily Hannon, medical director of the newborn nursery at Duke University Hospital. “But sometimes moms don’t feel comfortable about that and they want more privacy, that’s where these pods come in really handy. They can breastfeed or pump in a private setting where their babies don’t have to be under a blanket or under covers for fear of public exposure. Using a pod, moms can breastfeed or pump freely.”
In addition to the lactation spaces, Duke’s four health insurance plans include coverage for breast pumps as well as visits with lactation consultants, the first six of which can be done without a co-pay.
Lofton said that Duke Human Resources is working on ways to get more information about parenting resources into the hands of expecting mothers, including an interactive map on the Duke Human Resources website that will allow users to easily locate Duke’s lactation spaces.
“Breastfeeding is a lot of work and it puts stress on the mom, but it’s important for the baby,” said Ewing, the lecturing fellow in Duke’s Spanish Language Program. “So any little thing that makes it easier, is very helpful.”
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