Supporting Breastfeeding Moms

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With support from Kaiser Permanente, mothers visiting the Santa Clara Central Park Library now have a private place to breastfeed their children. Pictured: Pryadharshni Aruchami and her 15-month-old daughter Ela check out the new breastfeeding room.

When it’s time for Pryadharshni Aruchami to breastfeed her 15-month-old daughter in public, she is always on the lookout for a quiet, peaceful place where baby can nurse, free of distractions.

With the installation of the Mamava breastfeeding room in the Santa Clara Central Park Library — which the two visit daily — she now has a cozy, quiet and private location to breastfeed, courtesy of a Kaiser Permanente health and wellness initiative at the library, now in its 16th year.

This year the library proposed using Kaiser Permanente funds, historically used for health education materials including books, magazines and digital resources, to create a space for breastfeeding mothers, and the pod was opened May 9.

“I saw this pod, and I’m really looking forward to using it,” Aruchami said during a ribbon-cutting for the room installed in the children’s section of the library. “I was looking for a place to feed my daughter where we would feel good, just like at home. I see a lot of other nursing mothers here, so it will be a great help to them, too.”

The Mamava is a 26-square-foot stand-alone room with a locking door that can be opened by either the library staff or by using a mobile application. It has two benches, a fold-down table, mirror and USB outlets.

Celebrating Breastfeeding

Susan Smarr, MD, physician in chief of the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center and a practicing ob-gyn who attended the grand opening at the library, said Kaiser Permanente encourages breastfeeding because it has a number of positive health effects on mother and baby, including increasing the baby’s immunity later in life and reducing the risk of breast cancer for the mother.

“We at Kaiser believe in connecting with our communities,” Dr. Smarr said, referring to the decision to fund the breastfeeding space. “This pod is particularly exciting for me because I’m an ob-gyn, and I just spent the morning talking to my pregnant and new mom patients about the importance of breastfeeding. This pod is absolutely a welcome addition to the library. I wish there was one of these in every public facility.”

Santa Clara City Librarian Hilary Keith said the library sought the breastfeeding room because “no mom should have to use a bathroom stall” if she wants privacy or simply a quiet place to breastfeed her child in public.

“We celebrate breastfeeding and believe that mothers have the right to feed their babies however and wherever they choose, with dignity,” Keith said. “Some mothers need private spaces to pump. Some prefer privacy for nursing and others may just need help containing a toddler while feeding an infant. This room eliminates one more barrier to using the library.”

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