The Minnesota Vikings franchise is making a statement by becoming the first in the National Football League to include Mamava Lactation Suites in its stadiums.
These suites are designed for nursing mothers who want to breast-feed their children in a safe and comfortable setting. The Mamava suites are mobile, 4-foot-by-8-foot enclosed pods with electrical breast pumps, benches and a door that can optionally be locked.
The Vikings plan to install the two suites in TCF Bank Stadium — right here on campus — by Oct. 18. The team is also planning to move the suites to U.S. Bank Stadium when it opens next fall.
Additionally, the team will install suites at its training facility and headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn., along with its office in downtown Minneapolis.
To top everything off, the Vikings are also considering a nursing area that would allow mothers to nurse while remaining connected to the game.
While this move deserves extra applause — an overly masculinized franchise is considering the needs of nursing mothers — it leaves me saddened that public breast-feeding has become so controversial that it leaves nursing mothers in need of a safe place to go.
Society constantly humiliates and frowns upon mothers who decide to breast-feed in public, whether these women choose to do so or because there is nowhere private for them to go.
In fact, public humiliation over breast-feeding is still regrettably current. Back in March, a male flight attendant made a spectacle of new mother Kristen Hilderman during a United Airlines flight.
According to Hilderman, the flight attendant tossed a blanket to her husband — presumably to suggest Hilderman cover up — while overtly ignoring her. He proceeded to tell her husband to “help her out.” Hilderman asked the flight attendant what exactly she needed “help” with, but he ignored her yet again.
This is just a snippet of her story; the rudeness of the flight attendant carried on for quite a while longer. The main point is that she was publically humiliated for breast-feeding her child on a plane, which left her feeling embarrassed and insecure.
While it would be an ideal notion simply to say, “Women breast-feed. Sometimes they do so in public, either because of convenience or because they want to. Get over it,”
this is just not something to which the public will adhere.
These lactation suites are the next-best solution. Giving women a safe place to nurse and avoid public embarrassment is vital to those mothers who feel uncomfortable doing so outside of a private place.
There are even a few lactation stations throughout Lind Hall here at the University of Minnesota. However, it would be even more productive to add a few others in different
Public breast-feeding itself should not be such a deep source of controversy, but it is. I applaud the Vikings for appealing to the needs of nursing mothers, and I hope other franchises follow the team’s example.