NEW YORK — "Lactation suites" are now open across the city — one in each borough — in an effort to promote and support breastfeeding, the Health Department announced Wednesday, in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week.
The suites, also referred to by the city as "lactation pods," are located in Health + Hospitals’ Queens Hospital Center and Harlem Hospital Center, the Bronx Zoo, the Staten Island Children’s Museum and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
Communities with the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the city were chosen, according to the Health Department.
Each self-contained mobile unit is 4 by 8 feet, and equipped with benches, a table, an electrical outlet for plugging in a breast pump and a door that can be locked for privacy.
The units are cozy, quiet and comfortable, according to one mother who tested a pod out at its unveiling in Crown Heights Wednesday.
"It makes you feel supported, like it’s OK to breastfeed, 'we want you to breastfeed.'” she said.
That's exactly the point, Health Department officials say.
“Breastfeeding is the most complete and natural form of nutrition for babies, and it also provides health benefits for new mothers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We’re happy to provide a comfortable option for women who prefer to breastfeed or pump in a private space.”
Children who are breastfed have lower risks for SIDS and type 2 diabetes, and mothers see decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, according to Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio..
“Breastfeeding provides wholesome nutrition for babies, enhances the mother-child bond, and fosters proven health benefits for both parent and infant,” Palacio said.
New York City civil rights law gives women the right to breastfeed in public at any time, officials also note.
These lactation stations are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's efforts to promote breastfeeding, a Health Department news release states.
Nearly 30 "lactation rooms" are currently open in buildings where social services are offered to the public.
This following legislation de Blasio signed in August 2016 requiring Administration for Children’s Services, New York City Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to establish lactation rooms in select locations where social services are offered to the public.
More are expected to be opened in the future, and the public can click here to locate a community lactation room.