Sept. 4, 2019
By Jane Incao
Working full-time and raising a child isn’t easy for any parent. But when it comes to reentering the workforce after welcoming a new arrival, there are a few challenges that only new mothers face.
When Tennille Webb returned from maternity leave after giving birth to her son two years ago, she quickly noticed how complicated it was going to be to maintain her breastfeeding routine. At that time, she was on Walmart’s real estate team, which meant lots of travel and time in stores across the country. While out and about, she started to get frustrated with the lack of public spaces where she could feel comfortable taking scheduled breaks to pump.
“Breastfeeding is mental as well as physical,” she said. “Creating a healthy breastfeeding or pumping routine is hard when mothers feel rushed or uncomfortable, and many public nursing spaces don’t have the privacy or comfort to create that kind of atmosphere.”
So when she stumbled upon a Mamava pod in an airport one day, she had a lightbulb moment: What if this could be a new option for use in Walmart stores?
Mamava pods are freestanding lactation suites connected to a smartphone app that allows moms to find the pods, opt into vacancy alerts, and unlock the pods. Moms can also use the app to adjust the pod’s airflow and lighting, play a selection of relaxing sounds, and even leave a few words of support for the next mom who visits the pod.
While many people first encounter a Mamava pod at an airport like Tennille did, there are currently more than 900 pods across the country at a variety of venues, including sports stadiums and universities. But after Tennille shared her find back with her team at Walmart, she helped kick off Mamava’s first venture into retail space. Today, Walmart is testing Mamava pods for customer and associate use in three stores: in Williston, Vermont; Gilbert, Arizona; and Bentonville, Arkansas. The pods are also installed in six Walmart distribution centers across the U.S.
“This is an exciting new option that I hope will give other working moms the best possible experience as they transition back into the workplace,” Tennille said. "All nursing mothers have a different comfort level with when and where they breastfeed, and Mamava is another option for support.”