Unless you have a private jet, air travel can be a huge pain. And the stress of traveling is only multiplied when you're passing through an airport and need to pump breast milk. Luckily for nursing mothers, expressing milk while flying around the United States is about to get a lot easier. Thanks to a new law, all the United States' large and medium hub airports are now required to provide lactation rooms.
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representative Stephen Knight R-CA) first introduced the bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act in May 2017, Travel Pulse reported. On Oct. 5 of this year, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law, according to the United States Breastfeeding Committee's website. The FAM act requires large and medium hub airports to install and maintain lactation rooms in every terminal, according to Congress.gov. The fact that the law clearly requires a room to be in every terminal is important, because in some big airports, terminals are literally shuttle rides apart from one another.
More specifically, the lactation rooms must be clean, private, separate from the bathroom, and accessible to people with disabilities. Additionally, they must include a place to sit, a table or other flat surface, and an electrical outlet (because everyone — yes, even that kid who was kicking your airplane seat — deserves to charge their phones on airport layovers), Congress.gov added.
Mona Liza Hamlin, chair of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, released a statement on the exciting news. She emphasized the fact that there are risks associated with not pumping when it's time for your body to express milk, which just goes to show how absurd it is that a law like this wasn't passed sooner. She said, according to USA Today:
This is a strong step forward toward a world where breastfeeding families across our country are seamlessly supported wherever they are—at their places of work, in their communities, in an airport, anywhere. No one likes flight delays but for people who are lactating, extra time in the airport can mean finding a place to express milk or risking a dwindling milk supply or even infection. We look forward to building on this momentum and continuing to support breastfeeding people and families in all places and spaces.
Senator Duckworth also shared a proud message on social media celebrating the bill becoming a law, The Bump reported. She wrote, according to the outlet:
I’m so proud my bipartisan FAM Act was signed into law. This long-awaited law will help improve children’s health and help hard working mothers across our country find clean and accessible spaces to express breastmilk when traveling.
Helping nursing mothers is an issue close to Duckworth's heart. This past April, she welcomed a baby girl, making her the first sitting Senator in history to give birth while in office. When her daughter was born, she released a statement making it clear she would continue to use her position on the Senate to stand up for working parents. Her statement read, according to Politico:
Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and one that affects all parents—men and women alike. As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere.
The FAM Act is a huge step that will make air travel easier for so many lactating mothers. Hopefully airports that are not affected by the law choose to make the same changes in the near future.