All Major Airports Required to Have Lactation Rooms Now
Nursing in an airport was once a cumbersome activity, however, with the passage of the Federal Aviation Administration Act on October 5th, all large and medium-sized airports must now provide public lactation rooms.
This new mandate came from a bipartisan effort led by Democrat Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, the first Senator to give birth in office. Duckworth introduced the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act in 2017 with the help of Republican Representative Stephen Knight of California. It was passed in the House of Representatives and then incorporated in the FAA Reauthorization Act this year.
In an op-ed in Cosmopolitan in 2017, Duckworth shared her own experience as a breastfeeding parent traveling through airports: “While I was comfortable breastfeeding my daughter in public, I did not want to express next to strangers using the same outlets to recharge their electronic devices. At many airports, I was redirected to a bathroom, forced to pump in a bathroom stall.”
“We would never ask our fellow travelers to eat their sandwiches in a bathroom, but there I was, expressing milk for my child on a toilet seat.”
Previously, airports could provide lactation rooms at their own discretion, and while many did most failed to provide all that a breastfeeding traveler needed. A study conducted in 2014 among 100 airports found that 62% reported being “breastfeeding friendly,” and yet, only 8% of those met the minimum requirements for a person lactating or nursing.
Now with the FAA Act, all major airports must provide proper lactation rooms under the following guidelines:
— Lactation rooms must be provided at each terminal.
— They must be available to the public and be behind security.
— They are to be shielded from public view and have a lock on the door.
— Mothers must have a place to sit, an electrical outlet, and a table to use.
— All must be accessible for travelers of all disabilities.
— They cannot be in a bathroom.
— Grants are available to airports so they can make these new changes.
Mona Liza Hamlin, chair of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, said in a written statement, “No one likes flight delays but for people who are lactating, extra time in the airport can mean finding a place to express milk or risking a dwindling milk supply or even infection. We look forward to building on this momentum and continuing to support breastfeeding people and families in all places and spaces.”
On another good note, the FAA Act also requires baby changing tables to be available in at least one men’s and one women’s restroom in each terminal.
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