Moms push for lactation rooms at Atlanta's airport

7:53 AM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is on a course to become more family-friendly by building a nursing station for moms to pump or breastfeed.

Right now, nursing moms have to call ahead to reserve a private room or use the bathrooms.

"You won't believe it. They don't have lactation rooms here," said Sojourner Grimmett, a mother of two young boys who began focusing on the airport two years ago.

Grimmett posted a petition online asking the airport to establish lactation rooms. She also developed a social media campaign called "Table for Two" using images of models eating in bathrooms.

"The whole idea is you wouldn't eat in a bathroom," Grimmett told 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie. "You wouldn't want a mom to feed her child in a restroom or pump in a bathroom."

Grimmett was able to breastfeed her younger son for 15 months.

At the time, she worked at the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, which created a lactation room when she returned from maternity leave.

"It's a win-win for organizations to create lactation rooms," she added. 

And now it's the law. Part of the president's healthcare reform act requires employers with more than 50 workers to provide a place, other than a bathroom, for mothers to pump.

"It's about making the correct accommodation so a mother doesn't have to stop breastfeeding before she's ready," said Monica Ponder who has worked on the "Table for Two" campaign from the beginning.

Last fall, she met with airport officials and found they were working on plans to build a centralized children's play area that would include a mother's nursing station for passengers and employees.

"I think it's a compromise," Ponder said "It's not an ideal solution, but it is definitely a really good compromise."

The current project calls for a single, centralized, approximately 1,000-square-foot nursing/expressing area, which will accommodate nursing and expressing by multiple moms, simultaneously.

"We will evaluate its success and determine the need for more locations, as needed," airport spokeswoman Myrna White wrote in an e-mail to 11Alive News.

Plans for the nursing station were underway in advance of the petition, White added.

In 2008, the airport collaborated with Grady Memorial Hospital and Piedmont Hospital to gauge customer demand and to provide documentation for a business case.

"Support for the concept was solid," White wrote.

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