Officials and medical care providers celebrated the official opening of the lactation pod in the Springfield Health Center Lobby on Wednesday afternoon.
The pod is a freestanding unit with two benches, a shelf and electrical outlets, and most importantly, a door. It is designed to provide a clean, private space for nursing mothers and mothers who are pumping breast milk.
Pediatrican Sarah Weidhaas said the health center supports the health of mothers and babies and the lactation pod is part of that. “Breastfeeding decreases the risk of infection for newborns, supports healthy teeth and gums, helps with neurodevelopment. As a mom, transitioning back to work can be difficult, and not being at home with your baby is hard. Knowing there's something you can do for your baby while you're at work helps.”
Larry Kraft, director of development for Springfield Medical Care Systems, said Springfield is committed to expanding and enhancing its birth center at a time when many hospitals are closing them down. The childbirth center at Springfield is in the middle of renovations that will make the birthing suites work better for the mothers and families. Instead of moving from room to room depending on the stages of birth, mothers will be able to stay in the same suite through the entire process.
The lactation pods are designed by a company based in Burlington, Vermont called Mamava, Inc., and built in Springfield at Konrad Prefab. Kraft said the project was made possible by generous donations, especially from MVP Healthcare.
There are three other lactation pods in the state of Vermont: two at Burlington and one in Stowe, and in New Hampshire there is one at the Manchester airport and one at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
“We're hoping there will be many more,” said Ellen Sax, vice president of Community Engagement for MVP Health Care.
-- GLYNIS HART