UNA adds Mamava pod for nursing mothers

Alex Hopper, News Editor

UNA’s Guillot University Center is now home to a Mamava lactation pod, making UNA only the second college campus in Alabama to provide this equipment.

“There’s not a ton of universities across the country that even have a Mamava Pod,” said Title IX coordinator Kaleigh Baker in a statement to WHNT. “I think that it really shows how dedicated we are to creating those options and showcasing where our priorities are.”

 The pod provides privacy for nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump. It is equipped with benches, a fold-down table, and power outlets.

The Division of Student Affairs, along with other campus groups, headed the initiative to bring the Mamava to UNA. 

Funding for the pod was provided by the UNA Foundation and the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee.

“The installation of the Mamava Pod on campus actually goes back several years,” said Baker. “The Center for Women’s Studies has a long history of providing a lactation room for nursing mothers on-campus.”

“However, this space was only available during normal business hours,” said Baker. “Because of this, several years ago, the Office of Title IX actually began the process of looking into these pods.” 

After assessing this need, Madeleine Frankford and Dr. Tammy Jacques in the Office of Title IX along with Dr. Kevin Jacques over GUC Operations laid the groundwork for this addition. 

“Under federal law, UNA has to provide a space for employees who are nursing and that space cannot be a bathroom,” said Baker. “So, the law really is part of the driving force here.”

“However, the Office of Title IX interacts with a lot of our pregnant students throughout their pregnancy,” said Baker. “It just makes sense that this office would be leading the charge to give them a new option for breastfeeding after their pregnancy, too.”

The Mamava acts as an additional choice for students and faculty on campus that is open outside of normal business hours. 

“The option allows us to provide a dedicated, clean space without taking up classroom or office space,” said Baker. 

“It also allows us to give nursing mothers additional flexibility because they can access the lactation suite without having to reserve it through an office or getting a key,” said Baker.

The Mamava pod is a new addition to campus but, the Title IX office has already started receiving positive feedback through social media. 

Several current UNA students and alumni showed their support for the new addition. 

“This is awesome! I really needed more places to pump when I was in undergrad. The Women’s Center was amazing for that,” said Sydney Buchan on Facebook.

“I needed this my first year. This makes me so happy,” said student Alexandria Chrisman. 

“I have not yet heard directly from any of our nursing students who have gotten the chance to use the space,” said Baker. “Still, when they do I am so excited that they’re going to find a clean, private, and well-stocked space to breastfeed or nurse.”

The Mamava app can be used to locate and unlock the pod. 

The app will also be used to track how often the pod is in use. 

“We will be able to work with Mamava to see how often the pod is being used and this will help us make determinations in the future if we need to add additional lactation suites across campus,” said Baker.

For Baker, the addition of the Mamava pod is a necessary step in making UNA a supportive environment for all students.

“As the Title IX Coordinator, I want our students and employees to succeed in a safe and supportive environment,” said Baker.

 “I am thrilled that these goals are shared by the entire UNA campus and that we have been able to support breastfeeding individuals on our campus,” said Baker.