A Mother's Place: Infrastructure for Breastfeeding Support

A mother breastfeeding her young child.

Our Challenge

Breastfeeding moms in Nashville do not have a private, dedicated space to nurse at some of the city’s sports and public entertainment venues.
What happens when women don't have a comfortable, clean place to breastfeed? 
Many choose to stay home, often missing out on special events and family outings.  Others, over time, may choose to stop breastfeeding earlier than planned.
Tennessee’s breastfeeding rate at six months drops to roughly 43%, and this is largely due to barriers around social support.
2015 Metro Nashville Health Equity Report
There are legal implications as well.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees women a private space, with both a lock and a sink, to breastfeed. Two Nashville sports venues (Nissan Stadium and First Tennessee Park) and many city-wide events have lacked the ability to provide private, dedicated nursing spaces.  For Metro Nashville, the time has arrived to create a welcoming, supportive space for breastfeeding moms. 

Tennessee Lags in Breastfeeding Metrics

In 2016, Tennessee was ranked 44th out of all states and territories for the number of new moms initiating breastfeeding.  The good news: Metro's breastfeeding rates are above the state average…and steadily improving.  Unfortunately, rates still drop off at three and six months. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) map, to the right, shows that Tennessee has not yet met the Healthy People 2020 goal of having 60.6% of new moms nurse exclusively for six months. 
Through NashVitality's "Breastfeeding Welcome Here" program, Metro-area businesses can display a decal to signify that state law allows breastfeeding in public. But, not every mom is comfortable nursing in front of others. 
A diagram of states that have met the HP2020 goal for 60.6% of new mothers nursing exclusively for 6 months. Only 12 states have met the goal.

Why Breastfeeding Matters

Illustration of two mothers holding their children. Both children are wearing sports apparel.

Healthy Moms & Babies 

Breastfeeding is good for babies — and moms, too.
For mothers, breastfeeding leads to decreased risks for type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and some types of ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding protects babies from illnesses, as well as reducing the likelihood of them getting asthma, ear infections, and many other health conditions. 

Engaged Community 

Providing a space for mothers to breastfeed sends a message to them — and to all football fans — that women are welcome, potentially increasing attendance and cultivating a family-friendly atmosphere.  
Female sports fans are a strong presence in football, making up 45% of the fan base. 

Our Plan: Create a Supportive Environment with Mamava Units 

We've placed a private, lactation suite, known as a Mamava, at Nissan Stadium and First Tennessee Park.  Since Mamava units are designed to be mobile, we can deploy them to certain city-wide events.  Each of the self-contained pods has a comfortable bench, a door that locks, and also comes equipped with an electrical outlet (so moms can plug in breast pumps). 
The units are ADA compliant with a 60 inch turnaround, accessible mirror, and dual grab bars.
Mamavas can be seen nationwide at airports, convention spaces, and other sporting arenas, but these two are the first for the Metro Nashville area. 
A Mamava mobile nursing station with the door open. Inside, there is a bench, table, rug, and trash can.

Program Budget & Costs

The total cost for this project is: $40,550. 
Compared to Nashville's other Public Investment Plans (PIPs), which can have budgets of nearly $500,000, this is low.  Private partnerships help spread the costs between government and private organizations.  Of the total cost, only $12,350 was paid for with public dollars.
The funding breakdown is as follows:
  • Two (2) ADA-compliant Mamava Pods: $18, 525 each (Metro received a government discount; the retail rate is $19,500)
  • Shipping: $3,500 
  • Total cost: $40,550

Our Partners

Metro Nashville is proud of the many partners who contributed to this PIP's success.  They helped secure locations and financial investment for the pods.  Nissan Stadium and First Tennessee Park also informed fans and season ticket holders of the availability of the Mamava units. 
Financial Contributions:
  • Capital Contributions - Tennessee Titans ($12,350), Nashville Sounds ($12,350)
  • Shipping Contributions - Tennessee Titans ($3,500 - Paid directly to Mamava)
  • Design/Wrapping Contributions - Southern Blood Services ($1,000)
  • Misc. Purchases: Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition ($500)
Internal Partners:
  • Mayor’s Office Special Events
  • Metro Parks 
  • Metro Public Works 
  • Metro Public Health Department
Letters of Support:
  • Country Music Association 
  • Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition 
  • Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt 

The Launch

“A Mother's Place” launched in August 2017, with the opening of the first Mamava, at First Tennessee Park.  Immediately following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Metro residents lined up to use the newly available nursing suite.  Usage is not yet tracked but we hope to have data on how frequently the units are used. 

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry stands with a crowd at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of a Mamava mobile nursing station.

The Goals

A Long-Term Program  

Even after the PIP funds are spent, the pods will still provide a breastfeeding space for momsMetro Public Works and Metro Parks will deploy the pods as needed and the facilities will absorb the costs of any necessary maintenance.  A nominal special events fee may be charged after the one year warranty expires. 

Use Beyond Sporting Events   

Our goal is to deploy the Mamavas to Metro special events year round, including: 
  • CMA
  • July 4th
  • New Year's Eve
  • Live on the Green
  • Earth Day
  • Celebrate Nashville 

Additional Units in the Future

Along with increasing comfort for breastfeeding mothers at sporting events, we hope the presence of the Mamava units will normalize breastfeeding.  Before this program, there were no Mamavas in Tennessee or in the Metro area.  If usage is strong, the Metro Health Department may consider expanding the availability of units to the airport, convention center, and beyond. 

See More PIP Projects

Public Investment Planning is an innovative approach to budgeting, launched in 2016, that challenges Metro departments and agencies to think creatively about how they can collaborate on pilot initiatives to better serve Nashville-Davidson County residents. Learn more at http://www.nashville.gov/Finance/Public-Investment-Plans.aspx.