Buffalo is one of the cities helping to lead the way when it comes to changing the mindset of a nation that has previously looked at public nursing as a nuisance. After Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) introduced legislation to New York State Senate, that would require major NYS airports to offer lactation room for new mothers, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) voluntarily complied with the changes that the bill (not law) set forth.
Among the many change agents in Buffalo that supported the pending legislation was Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, and local mother and owner of Rachel’s Remedies, Rachel Jackson, who has been working tirelessly as a proponent for natural breast feeding and the benefits (without the pain) that it brings. Statistics show that 80% of newborn infants in New York State were breastfed in 2011, with NYS being slightly higher than the rest of the country. The benefits of breast milk (over formula) include the allowance of appropriate vitamins and nutrients needed to keep a baby healthy during the first six months exclusively, with a minimum of one year with combined foods.
It was Jackson who drafted the legislation and gave it to Senator Kennedy at a round table discussion. “He worked so hard and fast to get this going,” Jackson stated. “I commend Senator Kennedy and the NFTA for working so hard and so quickly to open a lactation room for breastfeeding mothers at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. Breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition, and the health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and mother are seemingly endless. I am thrilled that the Senator and NFTA understand the importance of this issue, and are making these accommodations available to nursing mothers, prior to the enactment of the legislation. The result of this collaboration will enable mothers and their babies to stay healthier.”
The airport’s lactation room will be outfitted with running water, table and chair, and will be located across from Gate 14 (east concourse). Work on the room is already underway.
“The NFTA has once again proven themselves to be an industry leader in both the state and the nation,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “Rather than waiting for this legislation to pass and be signed into law by the Governor, the NFTA has chosen to embrace this change, making Buffalo-Niagara International Airport among the first in the state to offer a lactation room for new mothers. I applaud this progressive decision, and I urge airports across the state to follow the NFTA’s lead.”
“In its continuing effort to address the varied needs of its customers, the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport is ready to commence construction of a lactation room for nursing mothers in the terminal,” announced Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA’s executive director. “I am very pleased that we have been able to identify space in the terminal to accommodate nursing moms by providing a private, clean and secure room for their use.”
“As I stressed when I stood with Senator Kennedy in August, we have to build a more breastfeeding-friendly culture so that more families can take advantage of the numerous health benefits for both women and children,” said Dr. Stephen Turkovich, Chief Medical Officer at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. “The NFTA is doing the right thing by voluntarily offering a lactation room for new mothers at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, and I hope that more airports throughout the state will make the same change.”
Lead image: Rachel Jackson stands along with Tim Kennedy and other initiative proponents at press conference on October 18, 2015.