Whether for business, for pleasure, or in case of efficiency or emergency, air travel is such an integral part of 21st-century life. For a nursing mother, the “normal” stresses of air travel can be exacerbated when they must travel with their infant children.
There is a movement afoot in airports to provide nursing moms a private, clean, safe place to take care of their young children’s needs. Traditionally, major airports, already bustling with activity, did not provide amenities specific to the needs of a new mom. Those needs had to be met in the women’s restroom, usually on a diaper-changing table, in a stall, or on the floor. Unfortunately, this has often led to dumping the milk in the toilet because public restrooms are unsanitary.
Houston Airports has joined a growing list of airports with special spaces designed and set aside for breastfeeding moms.
Yes, Texas law allows for a woman to breastfeed her child in any location. However, many workplaces seek compliance with another Texas statute that provides for the use of a "mother-friendly" designation for businesses who have policies supporting worksite breastfeeding. In many states and currently trending, employers are required by law to provide a discreet place other than a restroom for an employee to express (release into a container) breast milk.
Airports are always looking to improve the customer experience, and the lack of adequate accommodations for nursing mothers has become far more public and far more publicized. Proactive airports have taken action.
Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) has five such rooms, each equipped at minimum with an AC and USB power outlet, a table, and nursing glider chairs for the comfort of mothers and babies. Most rooms comfortably accommodate three mothers at a time, additional children, changing tables and an area to temporarily store strollers.
IAH offers four private nursing rooms for traveling mothers:
- Terminal A, between gate A2 and The Breakfast Klub
- Terminal A, near gate A17
- Terminal C, across from gate C4
- Terminal C, inside the women's restroom, across from gate C4
In addition, nurseries with baby crib and rocking chair are available in Terminals B and D:
- Terminal B, upstairs on the way to gates B85-B88
- Terminal D, next to the Chapel, between the KLM Crown Lounge and the British Airways Lounge, opposite gates D8-D9. The Terminal D nursery also has a private restroom.
Traveling moms need a place that is private and comfortable. This is a long-overdue amenity, according to Frances Gallagher, Project Manager, HAS Infrastructure, who has led the Mothers’ Nursing Rooms project at IAH. "Our customers are our top priority, and our staff have those same needs” Fran said. “Their feedback allows us to constantly improve our services to them."
Fran said that a mom can let herself in, lock the door, nurse her child or pump the breast milk in private, and then let herself out.
An increasing number of airports around the country are creating nursing stations for traveling mothers.