While it's already legal in 49 states (come on, Idaho!) to breastfeed in public, some might still prefer a little more privacy when they need to pump or breastfeed in an especially crowded area. That's why it's so great that Amtrak announced it would be building Mamava lactation suites in five of the busiest train stations in the U.S.
The Mamava suites will be ADA-compliant and have enough room to bring luggage and other children inside.
The pods, each of which measures 5-feet-by-9-feet and includes a bench, a fold-down table, an electrical outlet, and a locking door, will be unveiled at stations in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Chicago in time for summer travel, with another, in New York City's Penn Station, arriving early this fall.
According to Mamava's website, there are hundreds of lactation suites already located inside airports, arenas, universities, museums, and other public buildings across the country. The Mamava mobile app helps moms locate and unlock these pods, in addition to thousands of other pre-vetted breastfeeding- and pumping-friendly spots nearby.
"These new lactation suites demonstrate Amtrak's ongoing commitment to better accommodate the needs of our customers and their families while traveling with us," David Handera, Amtrak's vice president of stations, facilities, properties, and accessibilities, said in a statement. "It is important for Amtrak to provide mothers with a secure, clean, dignified and private space." The press release also notes that women are always allowed to breastfeed anywhere in an Amtrak station, as well as onboard their trains.
Amtrak's announcement comes just a few months after two Philadelphia mothers each started petitions calling for the company to install private lactation areas in both Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and D.C.'s Union Station.
In a petition started by Lacey Kohlmoos, which has received nearly 36,000 signatures since last August, Kohlmoos explained how she was forced to pump in an unsanitary Starbucks bathroom at Union Station after she was unable to find any other clean, private locations to set up her pump.
Samantha Matlin's petition focused on Philadelphia's station and received more than 28,000 signatures. In it, she described being told by an Amtrak employee to pump in a train's "handicapped bathroom" after she was unable to find a private area with an electrical outlet.
"No woman should be forced to sit on a toilet while she produces milk to feed her child," Matlin wrote.