This past year, Humber nursing professor, Sylwia Wojtalik stumbled upon a woman in the bathroom facilities, by the campus gym, who was breastfeeding in an empty shower. Wojtalik questioned, “how many more students and staff are out there on campus facing similar situations?”
In the past, Wojtalik has explored breast/chestfeeding friendly study and work spaces for students and staff. She has experienced students excusing themselves from class to extract milk or explain that they would discard the milk they pump because of the spaces in which they collect it.
“When I searched on the internet 'Humber breastfeeding’, the only thing that came up was continuing education courses offered,” she says. “All of the students that I've talked to told me that the process of finding space to express milk or breastfeed was very discouraging and complicated.”
This quickly led a call to action among various Humber departments to mend the gap for students who are also parents.
With the support of the School of Health Sciences dean, Jason Powell; past IGNITE president Maja Jocson; Dean of Students, Jen McMillen; and the associate director for Health and Counselling, Jacqueline Anderson, a solution was found. Offering a portable lactation pod like the Mamava offered a convenient method to support new parents on campus.
Mamava provides a private space to pump or breast/chestfeed, all while showing passersby that this form of nursing should be supported and celebrated by all. The pod is ADA compatible and features two benches, a Bluetooth SmartLock that sync’s with Mamava’s mobile app, and a charging station, all in the 50-square-foot unit.
Humber is the only postsecondary institution in Canada to feature the Mamava and is the second company in Canada to introduce it in a working environment.
“This is not something to be hidden or something that you have to go into a bathroom to do. Mamava is something open and available and it shows pride in our campus and inclusivity for all at Humber,” says Anderson.
This summer, Humber’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC), which is part of Student Success and Engagement (SSE), installed a pod on the second floor of the Learning Resource Commons (LRC) at North Campus and IGNITE installed another in the Welcome Centre at Lakeshore Campus.
The space is available for students to access Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. So far, SWAC has received positive feedback from those who have seen the Mamava and one mother who has used the Mamava referred to the pod as a relaxing and comfortable space for both her and her baby.
“At Humber, it is embedded in our fabric that what a student needs, a student should get,” says Powell. “When we talk about someone who is trying to better themselves and further their education (while raising a child) we have to eliminate as many barriers as we possibly can in order for someone to experience postsecondary education in a free, clear, calm and respectable environment.”
McMillen says the Mamava pods are one of many steps in SSE’s ongoing efforts to support student-parent college experience and success.
“Students should be able to access the campus to support their whole selves. It also shows the community that we have students with many different responsibilities,” says McMillen.
For more services provided at Humber, please visit: http://humber.ca/student-life/swac/