Last week, Acting Borough President Sharon Lee announced that her office has purchased the publicly accessible pod, which is constructed by the lactation suite design company Mamava. The pod is schedule to be installed by December at the indoor entrance to the Helen Marshall Cultural Center.
Borough Hall is home not only to the borough president’s office, but several city agencies, including the Department of Buildings (DOB), Department of City Planning (DCP) and Department of Transportation (DOT).
It’s also used by the NYC Marriage Bureau within the Office of the City Clerk, Community Board 9, and Queens County’s Clerk Office for jury proceedings.
“Establishing a private space for nursing city employees and visitors to Borough Hall, a civic center of Queens, is about moving us closer to the values of dignity and fairness we all hold dear,” Lee said.
Parents who need to use the pod will be able to check its occupancy status, unlock the door, control ventilation and more using Mamava’s free mobile app.
The pod itself is nearly 10 feet wide and more than seven feet tall. It is equipped with a charging station for lactation pumps that require electricity. It will be maintained by the Department of Citywide Adminstrative Services.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said in a statement that although the borough president was not mandated to provide a lactating pod, she is gratified that Lee took it upon herself to make it happen.
“It is my hope that other entities, whether public or private, will follow Ms. Lee’s example,” she said.
Passed in 2016, Local Law 94 requires lactation spaces to be made available to members of the public at various locations, including where the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), Department of Social Services (DSS) and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) offer services.
“Installing a lactation room at Borough Hall is an important step for breastfeeding parents and their babies,” said Councilman Barry Grodenchik, a co-sponsor of the bill, in a statement.
“Support for new mothers is critical, especially in a pandemic,” added Councilwoman Adrienne Adams. “All breastfeeding mothers should have access to pump or nurse in a dignified, clean and private space.”
Theresa Landau, chair of NYC Breastfeeding Leadership Council, said in a statement every major health organization in the world recognizes the importance of breastfeeding. Once viewed as a lifestyle choice, she said, it’s now known “as a public health imperative.”
“Breastfeeding is the great equalizer,” Landau said. “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,” she added. “We need to work together to create breastfeeding friendly communities and businesses.”