New mothers who come to Newton-Wellesley Hospital no longer have to duck into a restroom to breast-feed or express milk.
The hospital in June installed a freestanding lactation pod in the surgical center inside the East Entrance lobby at its Newton facility to provide a convenient, safe, and private place for women to breast-feed or pump.
Primarily intended for mothers who come to Newton-Wellesley for medical care or as visitors — not for those being cared for in the maternity department — the pod is also available to the general public and to hospital employees. Women gain entry by using a smartphone app or calling the maternity unit.
Newton-Wellesley, which was set to officially open the pod on Thursday, Aug. 1, becomes the first hospital in the MetroWest area to install such a unit, according to Newton-Wellesley officials. Available free of charge for use around the clock, the 51-square-foot pod has two separate seating areas, each equipped with an electrical outlet for pumping.
“We’re thrilled to support breast-feeding moms at Newton-Wellesley Hospital,” Liz Moss, clinical nurse manager for Mother-Baby, Newton-Wellesley’s maternity department, said by e-mail. “We believe that all moms deserve a clean, comfortable, and dignified place to use a breast pump or breast-feed distraction-free — anywhere, anytime.”
The hospital bought the unit from Mamava, a six-year-old Vermont firm which according to its website has sold more than 900 pods in the United States and Canada to hospitals, arenas, airports, colleges, zoos, government buildings, and private companies, and others.
Newton-Wellesley already has a private lactation room for its employees, which since 2018 has been a requirement of all employers with at least six workers. The hospital’s decision to provide such a space for the public came in response to a perceived need, according to Donna Norris, a lactation consultant in the maternity unit.
“We had women coming to the hospital who need [a place to breast-feed or pump] and were getting really upset that we didn’t have one,” she said. “They can’t come to our maternity unit because it is locked for security reasons. We’ve had a lot of people in tears.”
Without a designated public lactation area, women needing to breast-feed or pump have had to use a restroom, which does not provide the privacy needed, Norris said.
At the suggestion of Norris, who had seen a lactation pod at Fenway Park, the hospital agreed to acquire one. Norris hailed the decision as a sign of how Newton-Wellesley “wants to support breast-feeding and help women succeed at it.”
The pod, whose official opening coincided with the start of World Breast-feeding Week, complements other efforts to support breast-feeding mothers at Newton-Wellesley, whose maternity department sees about 3,800 deliveries per year.
Included is an outpatient clinic for new mothers who are experiencing problems breast-feeding, which began on a part-time basis in 2012 but was expanded to a 40-hour-per-week service in June. Newton-Wellesley also runs a 10-year-old breast-feeding support group that meets at its nearby ambulatory care center.
Moss called the new breast-feeding pod an extension of the “services and support we already offer to meet the needs of our breast-feeding patients, families, and visitors at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.”