Mothers looking for a private place at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to nurse their infants now have a new option: enclosed pods designed just for that purpose.
RDU recently bought two of the pods, one for each terminal, from Mamava Inc. of Vermont. The company calls its 4-by-8-foot pods Mamava Suites, which can be unlocked and used for free with the company's smartphone app.
While some women would be happy with a quiet corner of the terminal, the Mamava Suite is designed to let mothers shut the door and nurse in privacy. Each one contains benches, a fold-down table, an electrical outlet and a door that can be locked.
Mamava was founded by two women, Christine Dodson and Sasha Mayer, who worked on the idea and the pods in a design studio where they worked in Burlington.
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"After having pumped at trade shows, airports, corporate retreats, baseball games, and even the back seat of a male client’s car, we decided enough was enough," the women write on their website. "This project was motivated by our personal experiences as working, nursing moms, and by all the friends and colleagues and the thousands of women who have shared their experiences and frustrations with us."
The company's pods can now be found in hundreds of places nationwide, including airports, universities, museums and zoos. In the Triangle, there are Mamava Suites at the Raleigh Convention Center, PNC Arena and Durham Bulls Athletic Park; there are also pods at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg and at the Navy's Fleet Readiness Center at Cherry Point.
The company's app also lists more than 2,000 other locations that Mamava or its users have found to have good places — other than bathrooms — for breastfeeding and pumping. In Raleigh, those include the Marbles Kids Museum, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the Talley Student Union at N.C. State.
The Mamava Suites at RDU are near Gate A6 in Terminal 1 and near Gate C8 in Terminal 2. The airport bought the pods for $43,000, an expense airport president Michael Landguth says is worth it to help traveling moms feel welcome and comfortable.
“We want to be the airport of preference for all travelers, whether they have a baby or briefcase in tow,” Landguth said.