The Mamava Mini – A Design Solution Inspired By Millennial Moms

The Mamava Mini provides a secure, private place for nursing mothers in the office. 

There are so many factors that now inform workplace design decisions; many are supported by legislated requirements for worker health and safety. For instance, the Affordable Care Act amendment to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employers (with more than 50 employees) provide private lactation accommodations—not a bathroom—for breastfeeding and pumping mothers for a year after giving birth. Although many employers have incorporated “Mother’s Rooms,” often they are co-opted as “Wellness” or “Health” rooms and then, shared by more people, become inaccessible to mothers needing a place of privacy to pump breast milk for their babies.

To solve this challenge, Mamava in partnership with Steelcase, has brought another innovative option to market.

Born out of an aha moment and a fortuitous introduction to the folks at Steelcase, the Mamava Mini provides an affordable, easy-install lactation option for office settings.

Our discussion with Mamava CEO Sascha Mayer provided not only insight into the development of this product, but useful background information on some of the forces that are pushing employers to provide a range of accommodations for employees.

The Mamava mini – provides a secure, private place for moms – Image courtesy of Mamava

What is Mamava?

Based in Burlington, VT, Mamava is the expert in lactation space design, thoughtfully designing solutions for breastfeeding moms on the go. With both analog and digital products, Mamava products celebrate and support the 21st century breastfeeding mama. Mamava is mama-owned, made in America, and a proud member of the B Corp community. 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.

Why are dedicated lactation spaces required in workplaces?

The demand for acceptable workplace accommodations is driven by both policies as well as the evolution of the American work culture, influenced by Millennial Moms, more than a million of whom are giving birth each year. Millennial Moms are highly connected and in search of products and services that simplify their lives. They are aware of the laws requiring access to accommodations and expect employers to have them in place. As both design professionals and mothers who pumped in the workplace, we channeled this insight into crucial product features that meet the challenges women face in the office environment.

The statistics are out there to support bringing products to market to facilitate workplace accommodations to promote employee well-being. According to The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), new research concludes that the Affordable Care Act’s policy change is associated with an increase in breastfeeding duration by 10 percent and duration of exclusive breastfeeding by 21 percent.

What was the aha moment that brought the Mamava Mini to life?

We were reading about the Steelcase “Brody” product introduction in Metropolis. It was as simple as thinking that with some modifications, this would be the perfect way to provide an additional lactation space at a reasonable price point. We had a friend at Red Thread (a subsidiary of Steelcase), introductions were made, and we went from there. Of course, it involved more research and discussion around what modifications would be needed to transform the Brody into the Mamava Mini. The support and enthusiasm from Steelcase enabled us to mainstream the product development and brought it to market.

The interior of the Mamava Mini, designed for comfort and function – Image courtesy of Mamava

We are excited to partner with a human-centered and mission-based organization such as Mamava to bring this new design to market,” says Michael Klaus, Lounge Category Manager at Steelcase. “The Mamava Mini provides a turnkey solution for businesses. Our research shows that a well-designed space can nurture the physical, cognitive and emotional well-being of individuals. In working with Mamava, we created a concept that would specifically focus on those needs for breastfeeding mothers.

How does the product impact workplace design?

Combining Mamava’s intuitive design approach, which honors the physiological and emotional needs of breastfeeding mothers, with Steelcase’s research, insights and design expertise for the office environment, the Mamava Mini is a convincing demonstration of user-centered design for the 21st century mother.

The Mamava Mini is designed for individual use and creates a comfortable and private setting for mothers to breastfeed or pump. It incorporates state-of-the-art ergonomics with seating that cradles the body, allowing the upper and lower back to be supported. The 360º screens with an interior lock and an enhanced privacy sleeve provide a necessary privacy barrier, and, if a mama desires to work while she’s pumping, the Mamava Mini offers a setting that supports doing so – with an angled Personal Work Surface, built-in arm support, and lighting.

Does the product contribute to new ways of working?

The synergy between Mamava and Steelcase establishes a new office product category that meets the strong demand for private, clean, dignified and comfortable places to pump into the ecosystem of the modern workplace. This new frame of reference for women returning from maternity leave with pump-in-hand delivers the ideal answer for businesses to comply with Federal Legislation. The Fair Labor Standards Act’s is a mandate for employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk in a clean, private place; other than a bathroom, without having to incur considerable expenses in building-out permanent space.

What are the business advantages of utilizing the Mamava Mini?

A lactation suite can save businesses the cost of having to build-out an entire room for nursing or pumping. It can be moved to any location in the workplace. It offers both cost-savings and versatility to the design community. The compact design and footprint and portability offer companies a way to provide this amenity where cost and space may be a challenge.

Can you share any other thoughts about the design and application of the Mamava Mini?

We wanted to provide a product that supports moms and give employers an alternative solution to providing lactation rooms. We saw so many spaces that we thought were inappropriately designed for a corporate environment. We saw rooms decorated like a nursery, rooms that looked like medical suites, or places for multiple users with pipe and drape like hospital screens for privacy. The Mamava Mini provides a space that fits into a professional environment, is aesthetically pleasing, and provides a private, comfortable space for the designated purpose!

An individual work environment and a functional lactation space in a compact, mobile unit – Image courtesy of Mamava

What do you think our readers will love about the product?

We think they will love that they can provide for the needs of nursing mothers with creative workplace design product that enables them to continue nursing their babies after they return to the workplace from maternity leave.

When will the Mamava Mini be available?

Good news! It’s available now.

What is the cost?

The unit cost is $8,500.

Want to know more?

Check out this helpful video for more information about the Mamava Mini.

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