I never really liked the idea of a public breastfeeding room. The idea of some forced facade of comfort, inconvenience of location, the feeling of imposed separation rather than intimacy or community…
However, in practice and in reality, such a room can be a lifesaver for many families.
A private, quiet place to express breast milk is vital for many mothers. This kind of room is also useful in busy, loud areas like airports where an overstimulated baby can benefit from a break in the cacophony. It’s also generally a less-populated space than a public restroom, making diaper changes easier and quicker instead of stressful.
The fact that businesses and public venues in our country are stepping up to treat mothers and children to comfy, competitively lavish, Yelp-worthy spots to rest and renew is wonderful. It’s the thought that counts at least, and I can tell that many public establishments are really trying, if not fully succeeding just yet. (No worries, us mothers of tiny tikes know how to shed a grudge).
Interestingly, it may be especially helpful if the space is NOT called a public breastfeeding room (more on that in a bit). And even more so if the space is designed with educated intention.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed about what makes or breaks the overall quality and acceptability of a child care room.
First, Choose The Name Carefully
Okay, what is this room for anyway? In many cases, it seems like whoever named the room was probably the least qualified person to explain its actual purpose.
Let’s consider the oft-confusing and (when you stop to really think about it) sometimes irksome signage designating these spaces: Breastfeeding Area, Nursing Nook, Nursing Suite, Lactation Room, Mothering Lounge, Feeding Room, Child Privacy Room are a few examples.
“Nursing Nook,” “Nursing Suite,” and “Breastfeeding Room” exclude welcome of bottle-feeding parents, by nature of the name. “Lactation Room” is more suitable to the milking stall at a dairy factory (God help anyone who dares to refer a mother to the “Lactation Station”). “Mothering Lounge” is sexist (plenty of dads are primary caregivers, too). “Feeding Room” causes one to wonder whether changing tables, toilets, and garbage pails will be available — after all, a baby can really be fed anywhere, no special room necessary. I’ve also seen signage for a “Child Privacy Room.” Just… no. Come on, people… don’t make things weird.
What do you think about “Child Care Room”? It reaches all corners, rejects no one, and welcomes family-friendly business in general, right?
The Key Elements
What makes a private child care zone more perfect than others?
– A mix of seating types: with varying degrees of cushiness, with arms and without
– Large enough to realistically fit at least two mothers plus their nurslings and older children
– Clean and well-maintained
– Electrical outlets (kid-safe, of course) to charge phones and plug in a breast pump
– Clean running water and sink to wash hands
– Counter space for bottling milk, mixing formula, etc.
– A safe and clean area to change baby’s diaper
– Garbage can
– Entertainment for older children
– A door that closes to keep out noise
NICE TO HAVE
– A landline phone to make local calls, accompanied by a list of breastfeeding help and general baby care hotlines
– A clock
– Reading material for the adult caregiver while feeding
– Decorations and wall art (never underestimate the value of aesthetics!)
– Distilled nursery water to mix formula
– Private, separate but internally-located bathroom
– EC potties for older infants
– A crib to keep one of your littles contained, or for a quick nap
The awesomeness of Cincinnati Reds’ “Nursing Suite” recently captured the attention of news outlets:
So what makes a seriously sucky child care room?
– Dirty, dusty, generally not well-maintained
– Located within or attached to a public bathroom
– Cramped (i.e., a repurposed closet)
– Shitty ass metal chairs. The end.
– Fully exposed to the public
– Confusing, exclusive, unwelcoming signage
– Missing any of the “must have” elements
Take a look: How do you feel these other rooms stack up?
See more child care rooms: