Being a working mom or student mom is tough. Add in trying to find a space to breastfeed an infant, and the experience becomes even more stressful.
“Whatever we can do to limit that is positive,” said Alexis Palmer, the dean of students and the associate vice president of student life at Utah Valley University.
The university hopes to make its campus more parent-friendly with the introduction of five Mamava lactation pods located in high-trafficked areas.
The pods are located across campus, with one underneath the south stairs on the first floor of the Student Life and Wellness Center, one across from the Women’s Success Center in the Losee Center, one on the northwest corner of the third floor in the Clarke Building, one on the second floor of the UCCU center and a pod in the concourse of the Rebecca Lockhart Arena.
The pods provide spaces where parents can privately breastfeed, pump and feed their infants.
Palmer said the university learned about the pods after they were spotted at airports.
UVU previously used offices as lactation spaces, but the university’s growing enrollment has created pressure on room availability.
Palmer, a working mom herself, remembers having to pump from a restroom of the Denver International Airport.
“That is such a headache and such a stresser for women to have to do that, and why would you want to be providing nutrition for your child in a toilet stall?” Palmer said.
The pods provided a solution and a place for students to go that isn’t a restroom.
Mamava pods are unlocked through a mobile app, which means the university will receive usage reports and can monitor unusual activity, such as someone who has been in a pod for an abnormal amount of time. The pods will be checked by custodial staff and are located in public places to serve as a deterrent for people who want to use them for purposes other than lactation.
The pods come in the same year the university adopted a paid maternity leave policy, which Palmer said bundled together with the lactation centers, helps make UVU more parent-friendly.
The pods have been assembled, but are waiting on details such as electrical work and fire marshal approval to be used. Palmer said the university will also have police be aware of where the pods are located.
More pods could be added in the future depending on the usage of the first five pods. Although the pods aren’t open, Palmer said she’s heard positive feedback from students of all genders.
“It is something new for UVU and we are going to try it and see how it works out, and we hope our UVU community will take care of the pods and help each other out as our students, our faculty and our staff can pump or nurse their child, whatever that might look like,” she said.