Business Spotlight: Mamava

The right to breastfeed and express breastmilk is an important one. Perhaps this seems like a non-issue to you; maybe you’re in your early 20’s starting your career, perhaps kids are not in your grand plan, maybe the thought of expressing breast milk makes you cringe (shame on you if it does - it shouldn’t). Studies show that babies [and children] who are breastfed have far fewer cases of lower respiratory infections, fewer cases of bowel infections, fewer ear infections, lower rates of obesity, among other benefits. Similarly, statistics show that mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure & heart disease, a lower risk of ovarian cancer, and more. The science has spoken and the benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable! For the future of our children, for the health of our women, and ultimately for the health of our population, the right to breastfeed should be on your radar. So, what’s the big deal? Women just need to do it, right? It’s not that simple.

In 2006, the New York Times published an article that highlighted the fact that “a two-class system has emerged for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs — generally, well-paid professionals — breastfeeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice…. But for lower-income mothers — including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers, and the military — pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breastfeed at all, and others to quit after a short time.” (Kantor, 2006)

Our own personal experiences as working, breastfeeding echo this statement. It was difficult and challenging for us in what many would call supportive, assistive environments but was possible and could be a choice for us. We can’t image the struggles of mom’s trying to breastfeed while waiting tables, operating delivery trucks, a cog in a factory, or other such jobs. Many of these women don’t have the luxury of choice.

Enter our featured business: Mamava. We had the honor to virtually chat with Co-founder Sascha Mayer to talk about the righteous work they are doing at Mamava.

 

Where did Mamava start and how has it evolved over the years?
Mamava was started and is based in Burlington, VT.  The idea for Mamava was born when we (Mamava co-founders, Sascha Mayer and Christine Dodson) faced the challenges of breastfeeding while away from home. Even under a very supportive employer, we found ourselves pumping in restrooms, closets and even the backseats of clients’ cars because we traveled often for work. Recognizing the barriers to breastfeed for working women on the go, we set out to design a solution. The result: Mamava. Mamava is a business dedicated to transforming the culture of breastfeeding by creating freestanding lactation suites. With the motto that nursing should be a right, not a privilege, we eliminate the barriers to breastfeed through our design solutions.

 

How does Mamava help lower-income mothers and that two-class breastfeeding system that has emerged?
Our product designs and offerings all serve the purpose of alleviating the barriers for all women to breastfeed regardless of their socioeconomic status.  Providing breastfeeding employees with a clean and private place to pump is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the best thing to do when it comes to recruiting and retaining female employees. A report from The United States Office of Personnel Management found that employers who implement lactation workplace programs have a 94% retention rate of female employees, compared to the national average of 59%. In addition, workplaces that provide support for their breastfeeding employees benefit from greater employee loyalty and improved overall morale. Supporting breastfeeding employees is a win for everyone and ensures healthy babies, happy mamas, and successful workplaces. Our product design gives employers a turn-key solution to provide a space for mothers to pump. We’ve placed Mamava units in factories, in military facilities, in schools and many places where extra space is a premium.  This opens the door for mothers who don’t work in a traditional office environment to have access, which is the key to accommodating women regardless of her work environment. Also, the Mamava app, free for iOS and Android, helps moms find pumping and breastfeeding friendly locations on-the-go, unlock Mamava suites through the proprietary Mamava Smart Lock, and find useful breastfeeding content.

 

We love your Pumpcast Series. Tell us, where did the idea come from?
Two of our Mamava team members announced their pregnancies on the exact same day, and had babies a week apart in May. Rather than worrying about what it would mean to have two members of our small team be on leave at the same time we thought we’d celebrate it, and show how companies can be supportive of new parents.  Annie is a first time mom, Nikkie was having her second child. We thought our mom community would love to hear about their adventures in breastfeeding planning and going back to work. We wanted to visualize and normalize the everyday challenges of being a breastfeeding mom. Thanks to our two mama "stars," the Pumpcast has evolved into a fun visual way to share relatable stories--like the "Six Month Pump Slump" or "The Call of Doody"--while also offering tips, strategies, and resources for breastfeeding moms. We're serious about our work to make breastfeeding easier and more realistic for more women, and we also love to celebrate the craziness of mom life. The Pumpcast does both.

 

What does social good mean to you?
We are focused on our mission to change the culture of breastfeeding by helping make it an accessible choice for all mothers. To us, social good means empowering every woman with the opportunity to breastfeed if she desires to do so. Breast milk is a natural, renewable food that provides complete nutrition for a baby’s first six months of life. In addition to its health benefits, breastfeeding eliminates any need for packaging and shipping that formula requires. It’s a zero-waste solution, and one that can help reduce the prevalence of many illnesses and health conditions, which results in lower health care costs. Best for mom and babe, breastfeeding is the natural and most beneficial option leaving our moms, babies and planet better off.

 

Looking ahead, what does the future look like for Mamava?
Mamava now has 16 employees and we expect that number to rise in 2018! We are focused on our mission which is about changing the culture of breastfeeding by helping make it an accessible choice for all mothers. In the months and years ahead, we are bringing other tools and products to market that will make it easier for moms to reach their breastfeeding goals, and for facilities and employees to support them. This includes a smaller more affordable Mamava Mini lounge (coming January 2018) and an evolved digital offering. A major milestone for us would be to have breastfeeding rates increase from 81% of new mothers to 90% by the end of this decade. We also hope to be able to bring the brand and our solutions to international markets in the near future.

 

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