Any breastfeeding mom who has traveled by plane with her baby—or without—knows just how frustratingly inconvenient airports can be. Finding a spot to nurse or pump in private is often impossible.
That’s all about to change, thanks to the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act, which was recently signed into law by President Trump. The bipartisan legislation will require all large- and medium-sized airports to provide clean, accessible, private rooms for nursing mothers. Even better, they’ll have to provide a room in every terminal—meaning no more frantic dashes from one end of the airport to another, just to find a quiet place to pump for 20 minutes.
The bill was introduced by Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a mom who knows a thing or two about the challenges of traveling while breastfeeding. Back in 2017, she wrote an op-ed in Cosmopolitan, describing how difficult it was to breast-pump at the airport as she traveled back and forth between Illinois and Washington, D.C.
“As a nursing mother, I had to stick to a feeding and expressing schedule, including when I was at the airport, but I quickly realized that finding a clean, accessible, private space was stressful and inordinately difficult. While I was comfortable breastfeeding my daughter in public, I did not want to express next to strangers using the same outlets to recharge their electronic devices. At many airports, I was redirected to a bathroom, forced to pump in a bathroom stall.”
In the piece, she points to a 2014 survey that revealed that, out of 100 airports, only 8 percent had a facility that met the minimum requirements for a nursing room: a private, clean space—that isn’t a bathroom—with a chair, a table and an electrical outlet.
Now, thanks to her bill, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, a Republican, and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a Democrat, those airports will be required by law to have a space that meets the needs of nursing moms.
There’s even more for working moms to love in the legislation: Airports will also be required to provide baby changing tables in women’s and men’s restrooms, so dads can finally handle diaper duty at the airport. The bill makes grants available to airports to help them make these renovations, if needed.
The legislation is just one more way Sen. Duckworth, now a mom of two after the birth of her younger daughter, Maile, earlier this year, is changing the landscape for working moms. She made history when she brought Maile, just over a week old at the time, onto the floor of the Senate—a move that required a rule change to happen. It just goes to show what it looks like when mothers of young children are in power—the world becomes a much more welcoming place for us.