I’ve written about breastfeeding and I’ve written about football, but never in a million years did I imagine I’d ever write about them together. As I keep saying about the Seahawks this season, you just never know. Crazy things can happen.
So, since I’ve claimed the title “12th Man Mom,” and since the Seahawks play in Minnesota this weekend, it seems an appropriate time to talk about nursing moms and football. You see, the Minnesota Vikings recently announced that they are installing breastfeeding suites in their stadium. If you aren’t familiar, lactation suites are freestanding “pods” that provide a private space for moms to breastfeed. They’re popping up all over the place, from airports to malls to sports stadiums. I have some thoughts about them, both positive and not-so-positive, but for now I’ll just say that I think it’s great that professional sports teams are thinking about moms at all.
News outlets have reported that the Vikings will be the first team in the NFL to provide such dedicated lactation spaces in their stadium, but that’s only partially true. They’re the first to install the pods, but not the first to provide the space for breastfeeding or pumping. When that press release first came out, several people asked me if the Seahawks might do something similar. I heard Pete Carroll’s voice echoing from across the state, “ALWAAAAAAYS COMPEEEEEETE.” So I started researching to see if Seattle also had plans to provide lactation suites and was gearing up to suggest it to them if they didn’t.
But I needn’t have worried. The Seahawks’ stadium, CenturyLink Field, already has something better—a fully equipped Mother’s Room.
BOOM! WINNING!! #GOHAWKS
Ahem. I was quite pleased to find that out.
In the spirit of friendly competition, let’s do a little comparison between the two.
The Vikings’ Lactation Suites by Mamava
- 32 square feet freestanding pod
- Dual seating for a mom and a child or companion
- Outlet for breast pump
- Fold down table for easy breast pump positioning
- Soft lighting and mirror
- Complete privacy (no windows)
- Locking door (with custom lock options)
You can see what they look like here.
Now, as far as a place to nurse goes, those pods look pretty nice. For sure, compared to a dirty bathroom, a lactation suite is a fabulous option for moms who want to breastfeed or need to pump in private. On the down side, I think the small space/no windows thing would make me a little claustrophobic. I might also be slightly worried about locking the door and being shipped into space without my knowledge.
Just kidding. Sort of.
At any rate, as nice as a lactation suite might be, it’s no CenturyLink Mother’s Room. Check it out:
The Seahawks’ Mother’s Room at CenturyLink Field
- 90 square foot room
- Located on the suite level, directly across from a Family Restroom
- Two private stations with plush chairs and outlets to allow for both nursing and pumping
- Changing tables
- Sinks for easy water access
- Soft lighting
- Locked doors for privacy with a suite usher assigned to that area for access
- Comfortable and quiet waiting area with plush chairs for additional family members
Comfy chairs. Nice waiting area. A dedicated usher. Way to go, Seahawks. I’d take the Mother’s Room over the lactation suite every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
You might be wondering, “Who in their right mind would take a nursing baby to a professional football game?” Well, that’s a good question. I took a nursing baby to a couple of Seattle Mariners games, but baseball is a different animal than football. And CenturyLink in particular can be deafeningly loud (or so I’ve heard—I’ll let you know after the Browns game we’re attending on the 20th), so baby earplugs would at least be in order.
Regardless, having a quiet space to retreat with your baby is a lovely offering. And for moms who don’t want to bring their babies to a game, having a clean, comfortable, private place to pump is huge. Figuring in time for driving and parking and such, a pro football game can easily be a 6-hour endeavor even for locals. For many nursing moms, that amount of time would require pumping. And let’s not forget possible nursing mothers who work at the stadium. This space is a great perk for them, too.
Making any public space more family friendly is a good thing, in my opinion. And the Vikings deserve some props for including lactation suites in their stadium. But when it comes to offering comfortable spaces for moms with babes, sorry Minnesota—this victory goes to the Seahawks. Hands down.