To Provide Nursing Parents Privacy and Dignified Space

(November 23, 2020 at 1:47pm)

QUEENS, NY – Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee today announced the purchase and slated installation of a publicly accessible lactation pod at Queens Borough Hall, ensuring a private space to nurse a child or express milk. Constructed by lactation suite design company Mamava, the pod is scheduled for installation by December 2020 at the indoor entrance to the Helen Marshall Cultural Center at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. 

In addition to the Queens Borough President’s Office, Borough Hall also houses publicly accessible office space utilized by numerous city agencies, including the NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Department of City Planning, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, NYC Department of Transportation, the NYC Department of Veterans Services, the NYC Marriage Bureau within the NYC Office of the City Clerk, Queens Community Board 9 and the Queens District Attorney’s Office, as well as space used by Queens County Clerk’s Office for jury proceedings. 

Upon the nursing station’s opening, parents in need of a private space — including city employees at Queens Borough Hall as well as visitors — will be able to find the pod’s location, check its occupancy status, unlock its door, control ventilation and more by using Mamava’s free mobile app. The spacious, ADA-accessible suite — nearly 10 feet wide and more than 7 feet tall — also has its own charging station to power lactation pumps that require electricity. The pod will be maintained by the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. 

“Establishing a private space for nursing city employees and visitors to Borough Hall, the civic center of Queens, is about moving us closer to the values of dignity and fairness we all hold dear,” said Borough President LEE. 

Borough President Lee’s purchase expands on New York City Local Law 94 of 2016 — co-sponsored by Queens Councilmembers Karen Koslowitz, Barry Grodenchik and Eric Ulrich — which required lactation spaces be made available to members of the public at various locations where the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, NYC Department of Social Services and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offer services. 

“I am gratified that Borough President Lee has taken it upon herself, although not mandated to do so, to provide a lactating pod at Borough Hall for women with babies who have business at that location,” said New York City Councilmember and New York City Council Women’s Caucus member KAREN KOSLOWITZ. “It is my hope that other entities, whether public or private, will follow Ms. Lee’s example.” 

“Installing a lactation room at borough hall is an important step for breastfeeding parents and their babies,” said New York City Councilmember BARRY S. GRODENCHIK. “As a co-sponsor of legislation to require the availability of lactation rooms in public buildings across the city, I commend the borough president for once again making Queens a leader in policies that address human needs and are grounded in a deep respect for the dignity of every person.” 

“I was proud to co-sponsor legislation to encourage lactation rooms throughout the city to help new mothers,” said New York City Councilmember ERIC ULRICH. “I thank Acting Borough President Lee for taking the lead on this important initiative.” 

“Support for new mothers is critical, especially in a pandemic,” said New York City Councilmember and New York City Council Women’s Caucus member ADRIENNE ADAMS. “All breastfeeding mothers should have access to pump or nurse in a dignified, clean and private space. A new lactation pod at Queens Borough Hall will certainly be a game changer to support new mothers. I thank Borough President Lee for her thoughtful allocation and applaud this great effort.” 

“We’re thrilled to support breastfeeding at the Queens Borough Hall,” said Mamava Co-Founder and CEO SASCHA MAYER. “We believe that all mothers deserve a clean, comfortable, and dignified place to use a breast pump or breastfeed distraction-free. We’re grateful to partners like Queens Borough President Sharon Lee who are working with us to change the culture of breastfeeding.”

“Planned Parenthood of Greater New York applauds the Queens Borough President’s office for plans to install a Mamava lactation pod at Queens Borough Hall. This innovative accommodation will allow working parents and nursing mothers who work at and visit Queens Borough Hall to pump or breastfeed in a space that is private, clean, and convenient,” said Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy FRAN FOX-PIZZONIA. “Breastfeeding has been linked to numerous positive health outcomes for both the parent and the baby, including improved cognitive development, and a decreased rate of digestive problems, allergies, and respiratory ailments in infants. All parents deserve the resources they need to take care of their family in a way that is right for them. For nursing parents, this includes the ability to breastfeed or pump when and where it’s necessary.” 

“Every major health organization in the world recognizes the importance of breastfeeding. Once viewed as a lifestyle choice, we now know that breastfeeding is a public health imperative. Simply said, breastfeeding saves lives,” said NYC Breastfeeding Leadership Council, Inc. Chairperson THERESA LANDAU. “We have laws protecting a women’s right to breastfeed in public, but we need to change the societal culture to accept and embrace these rights. Breastfeeding is the ‘great equalizer’.  It gives every baby a healthy start in life — regardless of their income status, ethnicity, race or religion. We are working together to create a culture that is comfortable with breastfeeding.  We need to work together to create breastfeeding friendly communities and businesses and Acting Borough President Sharon Lee has taken a giant step to support parents and babies on their breastfeeding journey. As someone who was born and raised in Queens, I am incredibly proud of BP Lee’s support of breastfeeding families and we look forward to partnering on future initiatives to promote, support and protect breastfeeding.”

“We applaud Queens Borough President Sharon Lee for supporting breastfeeding parents and installing a lactation pod in Queens Borough Hall. New York City has long been a leader in supporting and encouraging breastfeeding and this new lactation pod only furthers that leadership,” said A Better Balance Senior Policy Counsel SARAH BRAFMAN. “Through our legal helpline, we hear from women across New York City who often struggle to access lactation spaces and it is heartening to see our City’s leaders step up and offer clean, dedicated space for breastfeeding parents.” 

This allocation represents the continuation of efforts by Borough President Lee to empower Queens families of all sizes, shapes and forms. In February 2020, Borough President Lee implemented a new policy allowing for up to 24 weeks of paid parental leave for both managerial and non-managerial employees of her agency following the birth, formal adoption and/or foster care of a child or children.

“Our nation lags severely behind other industrialized nations when it comes to paid parental leave,” Borough President LEE said at the time

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