Mothers and breastfeeding supporters are praising Goose Bay Airport for setting an example by installing a high-tech lactation pod.
The pod — officially unveiled with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday — may look small from the outside, but inside it's roomy and comfortable, giving moms an option to breastfeed and pump milk with privacy.
Laura Michelin of North West River said she's looking forward to using it when she travels with her daughter, Raina, for medical appointments.
"It's not the same having to feed her on the plane next to strangers being so close to them, and this is a nice, private spot to feed her," she told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.
"I can't control when she gets hungry so it's really good to feed her in privacy instead of a bathroom stall or anything," Michelin said.
Lori Dyson Edmunds, a Happy Valley-Goose Bay town councillor who sits on the Goose Bay Airport Corporation board, says the entire airport is breastfeeding-friendly, but the pod offers another option for mothers.
"Mommas that are passing through on flights, whether it's to the north coast, south coast or to the bigger centres, you can go anywhere here to feed your baby. This just offers a quieter spot, a little bit more secluded," she said.
Dyson Edmunds said the Goose Bay Airport Corporation didn't flinch when mothers asked for a quiet place to feed their children, but says a lactation pod isn't what she expected.
"I didn't envision this. When I went to the board and said, 'We need something. We need a breastfeeding area,' they basically went above and beyond here because this is such an amazing piece of infrastructure here for our airport," she said.
Goose Bay Airport Corporation CEO Goronwy Price said the movable breastfeeding station cost about $30,000. It's wheelchair-accessible, has two built-in seats, counter space, dimmable lighting and its own ventilation system.
Anyone who wants to use the pod can download an app that shows its location, when it's in use and how to unlock the door.
Price said only three airports in Canada have this particular pod: one in Vancouver, one in Toronto — and Goose Bay.
"This is going to be a solid advantage for us and you know, sometimes you just got to step outside the box to find something that works," he said.
Jodi MacPhail, a leader of La Leche League — a group that provides support to breastfeeding mothers — says the Goose Bay airport is unique in the province as moms from the Labrador coast deliver their babies in Happy Valley-Goose Bay before flying back to their home communities soon after birth.
She says mothers have a right to breastfeed anywhere and at any time, but the pod will be much used and appreciated by new moms.
"Moms often end up going to a bathroom and feeding their babies — sometimes sitting on a toilet — in those early days, especially if they're not comfortable," she said.
She said the pod is useful for women with older babies who get distracted when feeding, and it's also a welcome addition for mothers who pump breast milk too.
"They often have to be in bathrooms, sometimes in a little corner under a blanket because there's no other space, so it's a lovely option for them, as well," she said.
MacPhail says it's important to have a welcoming atmosphere for breastfeeding mothers, and says the lactation pod shows there is community support for it.