That’s sometimes the only choice breast and chestfeeding parents have in their quest to feed their infants.
UTM offers a number of identified locations for feeding and pumping. But that doesn’t always make the options completely inviting. “We have identified several areas around campus for breast and chestfeeding, such as the lounge in the Annex, but they are not always really that private,” says Nythalah Baker, Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. Many of the suggested locations are also tied to 9-5 office hours.
While parents and caregivers are welcome (and legally entitled) to breastfeed/chestfeed anywhere in public, some prefer privacy or require access to an electrical outlet, which the Mamava pod provides.
“Pre-COVID, we had a pressing request to find resources almost immediately for a student, because we didn’t have any spaces available in the evening,” says Kaye Francis, manager of the Family Care Office. “We started looking for new options.”
Research led to the Mamava lactation pod: a standalone, wheelchair-accessible, 50-sq.-ft. pod that includes two benches, electrical outlets, a mirror, lighting, shelves, a Bluetooth SmartLock and a charging station.
Access is free, and is controlled by the Mamava app, available on App Store or Google Play. No appointment is necessary; access is on a first-come, first-served basis, and notifications via the app tell you when the unit becomes available.
The Vermont-based company was co-founded in 2013 by brand strategists (and working mothers) Sascha Mayer and Christine Dodson, who were inspired by their own frustrations having to pump in closets, toilet stalls and cars. The Mamava network now includes thousands of pods across North America — from Walmart stores to military bases to the Statue of Liberty. In the GTA, pods can also be found at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Humber College.
UTM’s pod, the first on a U of T campus, is located on the main floor of the CCT Building atrium near the MiST Theatre. It is available 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. and can be used not just by registered UTM students, staff, librarians and faculty, but also by those visiting for such campus events as conferences, movie shoots or walks on the trails. It’s also on wheels, allowing it to be moved to other locations if needed.
For information on this and other lactation resources at U of T, check out this comprehensive tri-campus list, or contact the Family Care Office at 416-978-0951 or via email at email@example.com.