On Monday, officials from MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) joined Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and advocates to unveil a new lactation pod inside the waiting room at Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn.
The pod, manufactured by the company Mamava, is the LIRR’s second lactation suite. Their pod at Penn Station has already been used by almost 500 mothers, according to LIRR president Phillip Eng.
“As we look to do things outside the box, mothers can now take care of things inside the pod,” he said. “It’s a necessary addition to our system.”
Inside the private, enclosed pods are two benches, a fold-down table, an electrical outlet for plugging in a breast pump and a door that can be locked. The pod, the LIRR notes, is ADA-compatible as well for mothers using wheelchairs and grab bars.
Mothers who wish to use the Atlantic Terminal pod can ask an agent at the ticket window daily between 6:10 a.m. and 9:50 p.m.
Eng said the pod was installed in the customer waiting area without having to remove any seating.
“This will undoubtedly have a major impact on how moms can plan their days,” Eng said.
Borough President Adams praised the opening of the lactation pod, which he said is a sign to mothers that breastfeeding is allowed. He noted that Borough Hall opened its first lactation room in 2015.
The borough president said he has worked with Councilman Robert Cornegy to push legislation to have every municipal building install a lactation room.
He has also called on the NYPD to have a lactation room in every precinct, so police officers who want to breastfeed have a place to do so.
“As a child who was breastfed, I believe it made me smarter, wiser and kinder in the process,” he said.
Adams spoke highly of the benefits of breastfeeding, which he said includes raising the IQ of a baby, reducing the likelihood of developing eczema and allergies, making vaccines more effective and helping to prevent obesity.
He said there is “no reason” why lactation pods can’t be at not just every LIRR station, but in every transit station.
“No matter what stop you get off on the train, you should know that it’s a stop where you can breastfeed,” Adams said. “Parents should be able to breastfeed their child in a dignified, clean manner, and this is a way of doing so.”
For new mother Eveline Chang-Fritsch and her seven-month-old daughter Olympia, the pod will make a difference in their daily lives. Chang-Fritsch, who lives in Prospect Heights, said she travels through Atlantic Terminal everyday to get to work.
At the unveiling, she spoke about how difficult it was as a new mother to navigate and plan her days. She said she’s always calling ahead to make sure there’s a private place for her to pump.
“I haven’t had great experiences,” she said.
Chang-Fritsch said she’s pumped in private stalls, coat closets, and even at friends’ offices when she can’t find a private place.
Last weekend, she attended a conference at a hotel, where she called ahead of time to ensure there was a space for her to pump. But the new mother found out the space was being used for multiple purposes, and she was walked in on three times by male hotel workers.
“These kinds of scenarios that happen to women all the time have made me feel like our rights are not always protected,” Chang-Fritsch said. “As new moms, we shouldn’t have to feel like we have to advocate for ourselves everyday, everywhere we go.”
The Prospect Heights mom said she’s happy to know that mothers going to work or coming to the city using LIRR now have this option.
“In the end, it’s really just about the ability for myself and other parents to be able to provide nutrition and sustenance for our child wherever we need to be able to do so,” she said.