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Nurse in Private at Miami Airport

Traveling can be stressful for young mothers — especially for those who are pregnant or nursing their infants. The Zika scare has brought added concern for those flying throughout southern Florida. Precautions for the health and safety of moms and their babies may be at an all-time high right now.

Yet for nursing moms traveling through Miami’s International Airport (MIA), they can breathe a sigh of relief this week because of new accommodations offered for nursing mothers.

MIA recently introduced eight nursing “stations” throughout the airport’s six terminals. The new additions, at a total investment of $128,000, give MIA the largest number of private nursing units of any U.S. airport. The airport has the second most international passengers in the U.S. — with a high volume of travelers coming through for both work and vacation — so this is a real convenience for traveling mothers.

Known as “MIAmama stations,” the areas are an option for nursing moms who need a private place to breastfeed their babies or pump milk. Developed by the Mamava firm, the units offer design solutions for moms on the go.

Founded by Sacha Mayer, Mamava came up with the idea when Mayer herself, a nursing mom who travels, needed to pump milk in an airport bathroom.

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Today many women, due to work or convenience, settle for using infant formulas that don’t have the most nutritional value for their babies — so mothers miss out on the beneficial and bonding practice of nursing. Though it is a personal choice, breastfeeding can benefit both baby and mother.

Most doctors affirm that breast milk not only reduces the rate of infection in children, it could also reduce the risk of allergies, obesity, and chronic disease later on. The convenient airport options offer optimal benefits when stressful travel can inhibit a mother’s milk flow. A place of privacy and peace for nursing moms can make a world of difference.

“As a new mom, you’re already having difficulty breastfeeding because it’s such a new experience. So honestly, having to cover up [and find a corner] is one of the last things you want to do,” said Kara Bloomquist, a central Florida-based mom of a four-month-old baby boy. “Having a place where you can be in private and know your baby is latching on properly is invaluable. Also, breastfeeding in public has become such a hot topic. It seems so many people are offended by it,” she added. “Even when you cover up [in public], you often feel extremely insecure as a new mom nursing in front of people.”

Related: Are You a New Mom? You Might Be Depressed [1]

As to the controversial notion of breastfeeding in public, Mamava says its mission is not to hide breastfeeding, but to acknowledge the tricky logistics for mothers who are committed to nursing. As breastfeeding continues to be encouraged, Mamava may be an asset for more public places to consider.

“When I went to a Target for the first time as a new mom, I had no idea where I was going to breastfeed,” explained Bloomquist. “So I went into a dressing room just to feed my son. When I walked out, people were staring at me, knowing what I had just used the room for — which was extremely awkward.”

MIAmama units offer a safe, enclosed environment for nursing. Spacious enough for mother, baby, and an additional person (perhaps a spouse or another child), each station has two benches, a collapsible table, and a deadbolt lock. Each unit is equipped with an AC and USB power outlet for breast pumps and has a place to recharge a smartphone or iPad. At nearly 4 feet by 8 feet wide, MIAmama stations offer a place to recharge — figuratively and literally.

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“People don’t realize that new moms can be uncomfortable — your breasts hurt and your baby is cranky if you don’t nurse when you need to,” said Bloomquist. “Giving moms a private place to breastfeed is giving them an opportunity to be out [in public] for longer than an hour at a time. It allows them to feel confident they can handle this new experience with their little one.”

Now available throughout Florida airports at Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Key West as well as MIA, Mamava stations offer privacy and consideration toward new moms.