It was exactly two years ago that I was 12-weeks postpartum with my firstborn and trying to navigate my return to work felt overwhelming. I didn’t have the new amazing resources such as Work. Pump. Repeat” (by Mamava friend Jessica Shorthall) to help me figure out how much milk I should pump before I went back to work or how much milk I should send to daycare. Although I didn’t have an overwhelmingly supportive employer, I was fortunate enough to have my own office with a lock on the door and a very supportive husband who built me a makeshift curtain that I could close during my pumping sessions. I knew I needed resources but Google wasn’t turning up any. That’s when a favorite customer invited me to the Facebook group, “Working Moms Making Breastfeeding Work!”
Being a part of a community of mothers who were struggling with transition back into the workplace was an important part of my breastfeeding journey. Together we were figuring out how to spend our days with our breasts attached to the pump versus breast to babe. We shared stories and photos of our growing babies. We shared recommendations for increasing our milk supply and asked questions when we needed answers for issues liked clogged ducts and mastitis. We even cried over spilt milk together. Seriously.
Thankfully a year and a half later, just after my breastfeeding journey had ended, I found myself working at Mamava. I started sharing information about Mamava with my working mama breastfeeding community of sisters so that new moms would have the resources that I did not; support while traveling and for going back to work. I wanted to get as many mamas out of the bathrooms as I could.
I never would have guessed that the stars would have aligned to lead me to a new friend and future client at the City of San Francisco. Ashley Summers was a new mom and legislative aide to Supervisor Katy Tang’s office. She saw my posts and decided to reach out to learn more about Mamava to see if our free-standing lactation suite could be a good fit for the City’s historic buildings as they pushed to pass local legislation that set very high standards for lactation accommodations for City employees. You can find the amazing and most progressive municipal legislation in the country here: City of SF Legislation.
Ashley and I worked together for 9 months to build our baby-friendly-feeding strategy across the City. Last week, we celebrated the first Mamava installation at City Hall with seven more locations to come in the new year. San Francisco City Hall is undoubtedly the most beautiful public building that I’ve ever stepped foot in. It had breathtakingly beautiful architecture with marble steps, ornate stone-work, and a forty-foot Christmas tree made of origami cranes inscribed with messages of peace written on by children. City hall was also emotionally beautiful as we were witness to eight weddings in the five hours and were treated to the beautiful sounds of an all-boys choir during a lesbian couples’ wedding ceremony. We even got to hold the local animal shelter kittens featured in Supervisor Tang’s office’s holiday celebration of the “12 Days of Kittens”.
No, I am not making this up.
As we cut the ribbon at the very first Mamava in the City of San Francisco and listened to Supervisor Katy Tang introduce the breastfeeding initiative that Ashley and I had worked so hard on, I was beaming with pride: I’m proud of how Mamava is normalizing breastfeeding and changing our culture for the better in the process. I’m proud that Mamava is a category creator, making women’s lives better through innovative design. I’m proud to be connected with women who support each other when all too often there is so little support out there. I was proud to be side-by- side with Ashley, a new friend and fellow pumping-warrior committed to moving her community forward. And lastly, I was proud to have a growing baby girl inside my four-month pregnant belly. It truly is the poetry of progress.