All major airports will now have special nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers under new law
The bill, which is named the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act of 2017, makes it compulsory for all large and medium airports to have a lactation room in each building
Breastfeeding mothers in the US can finally celebrate after a new law in the country has made it a requirement for all major airports to have a lactation room making it easier for mothers to nurse or pump breast milk for their babies. The bill, which is named the Friendly Airports for Mothers Act (FAM) of 2017, has made it compulsory for all large and medium airports to have a lactation room in each building. Lactating mothers who have had to breastfeed in bathrooms earlier will be able to rest easy and breathe a sigh of relief as one of the requirements of the new law is that the lactation room will have to be separate from airport bathrooms.
The law also laid out a few more provisions that include the room having a door that can lock, be accessible to people with disabilities, including seating, a table or any flat surface, as well as an electrical outlet, reported PEOPLE. The law also states that changing tables in all men's and women's restrooms are now compulsory.
The bill was introduced in May 2017 as a bipartisan legislation from Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representative Stephen Knight (R-CA). The bill was incorporated later into the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that President Donald Trump signed on October 5.
Duckworth was the first Senator to give birth while in office when her daughter Maile was born on April 9. She wrote an op-ed about making airports more accessible for women who are breastfeeding after she had some terrible experiences with her elder daughter Abigail who is now three-years-old.
She wrote in the op-ed for Cosmopolitan in September 2017: "As a nursing mother, I had to stick to a feeding and expressing schedule, including when I was at the airport, but I quickly realized that finding a clean, accessible, private space was stressful and inordinately difficult. 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."
She also added: "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." The Senator said that adding lactation rooms to the airports will come out of existing improvement funds for the airports and will not cost any additional money from the taxpayers. She said: "If a mother chooses to breastfeed their child, she should not have to worry about whether she can find a clean, private place to nurse or express breast milk while she’s traveling; she has enough to worry about already."
The chair of the US Breastfeeding Committee, Mona Liza Hamlin, said in a statement that passing the FAM Act was a major improvement towards proving better support for breastfeeding mothers. She said: "This is a strong step forward toward a world where breastfeeding families across our country are seamlessly supported wherever they are — at their places of work, in their communities, in an airport, anywhere."
She continued: "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."