Sen. Tammy Duckworth was once told to pump breast milk in an airport toilet stall. Now she has unlocked funding to put lactation rooms in all of America's airports.

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) was the first female Senator to be born in office in 2018, while her daughter Maile was the first newborn to be admitted to the Senate during a vote.
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Over the past few years, you may have noticed more breastfeeding rooms and "pods" at major airports.
This is due to a 2018 law that allowed medium and large airports to use federal funds to build or expand the facilities.
Now a new law sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth will unlock the same funds for the small airports in the US. Duckworth told Business Insider that she was inspired by an uncomfortable experience at an airport after having her first daughter.
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When Senator Tammy Duckworth had their first daughter in 2015, the then-member of the House was in a difficult position.
She traveled back and forth between Illinois and Washington DC to work, but also had to pump breast milk for her baby - and often couldn't find a place to do it.
"I was told to use the handicap, the bathroom, which is gross," Sen. Duckworth said in a recent interview with Business Insider. "You wouldn't eat a sandwich there. Why would you ask me to express breast milk for my daughter? It's not hygienic."
Their alternate locations were in the middle of the airport gate area or on the plane, sitting next to strangers.
But you may have noticed in the past few years that new lactation rooms, or pods, have appeared in the major airport terminals. If so, you can thank Duckworth.
In 2015, Duckworth sponsored a bill to bring lactation rooms to airports. Those efforts failed, but in 2018 the Duckworth-sponsored Mothers-Friendly Airports Act was passed. The new law ensured that medium and large airports could use money from the airport improvement program that is normally earmarked for repairs to terminal buildings or runway extensions to add private lactation areas.
Under the first law, the Maternal Friendly Airports Act, medium and large airports could use funds from the airport improvement program to build lactation rooms or add modular suites like this one from Mamava.
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However, small airports classified by the FAA as receiving 0.05-0.25% of annual U.S. trade plans were not included. That's a problem, Duckworth said, as many travelers start their journey at small airports before taking another flight at a larger hub, often with tight connection times.
"The best place [for these passengers] to express breast milk is really on the first flight," said Duckworth. "And those are the small airports."
Despite delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Congress passed the Maternity Airport Improvement Act earlier this month, which extends the use of airport improvement funds for delivery rooms to include small airports. President Trump is expected to sign the law. The bill should come into force when airports and travelers emerge from the pandemic.
"When we travel again, mothers who work outside of homes and families who travel will actually have that benefit," Duckworth said.
Read the original article on Business Insider

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