UTM has recently installed its first lactation pod on campus for breastfeeding. The lactation pod will be available for use daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm and is available to everyone irrespective of their membership to UTM.

Studies show that returning to work or study after maternity leave is often an obstacle for breastfeeding individuals. Without access to a lot of safe spaces, students must rely on their schools to provide spaces for breastfeeding. 

Alleviating accessibility concerns

In an email to The Varsity, a UTM spokesperson wrote, “While UTM offers a number of identified locations for feeding and pumping, sometimes those areas (e.g. empty conference rooms or borrowed offices) are not private enough for some users’ needs.” 

Furthermore, there were concerns about time constraints on breastfeeding spaces. “Some of the suggested locations were tethered to nine-five office hours, and there wasn’t an organized way to know if a space was available,” explained the UTM spokesperson.

According to the spokesperson, the lactation pods are important for upholding “UTM’s commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all.” 

Mamava-designed lactation pod

UTM has installed the lactation pod on the first floor of the Communication Culture & Technology building. 

As the UTM spokesperson explained, this specific location maximizes accessibility and convenience: “That building is reasonably central on the UTM campus and this specific location was chosen as it is near restrooms, and there is sufficient space for the pod such that there is no impact on the use of that area of the building.” 

Mamava, a company that focuses on creating technology to improve accessibility for lactation spaces, designed the lactation pod. 

“The Mamava pod is comfortable, offers full privacy, is wheelchair accessible, and features two benches, electrical outlets, a mirror, lighting, shelves, a Bluetooth SmartLock and a charging station,” wrote the UTM spokesperson.

“Access is free and is controlled by the Mamava app, available on App Store or Google Play which means it is designed for autonomous access,” they continued.

Additionally, use of the pod does not require an appointment, with access determined on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Mamava app also provides notifications on when a pod becomes available. 

There is a possibility that UTM will install more lactation pods. “The need for additional pods will be determined based on use of this pod and feedback from the university community,” wrote the UTM spokesperson.