ONA15 introduces nursing mothers room

By Meghan Coyle
and Neha Ramani
ONA Newsroom

cute_babyFor the first time, this year’s Online News Association conference has a designated room for nursing mothers to relax and pump breast milk.

The “Quiet Room for Moms” – located on the Mezzanine floor with a conference room style table, chairs and a mini-refrigerator – is the result of an internal audit to assess what ONA could do to make the conference better, easier and more comfortable, according to Leah Rush, ONA’s director of registration.

Rush said ONA wanted to make services for mothers a priority this year, adding that other conferences offer similar services, while some go as far to offer childcare.

Four mothers signed up to use the nursing room during ONA15, and some signed up for multiple time slots. “It may not be a huge amount of people, but it’s definitely meaningful for the people who do use it,” Rush said.

Toby Collodora, the director of digital content at Cordillera TV, said she signed up because she needs to pump breast milk for her 9-month-old daughter at home in Minneapolis. She’s a frequent traveler, so she emailed the hotel and ONA to ask what resources would be available to her.

“I wasn’t lucky enough to get a room at the hotel, which is why it became an issue,” she said.

The quiet room for mothers was locked both times Collodora went to pump milk, so she and another mother who needed to pump went to use an empty room across the hall.

“We put a sign on the door of the other room telling people not to come in, and it was fine,” she said.

Although Collodora was never able to use the designated room, she appreciates that ONA created an option for breast-feeding mothers. “Especially for a conference of this size and this nature,” she said, “you’re just going to have a lot of women in that 20-to-45 age bracket.”

Collodora said she thinks it’s great that ONA recognizes how hard it is to be a breast-feeding mother on the road, with little kids at home.

“It’s already challenging enough,” she said. “Having one thing less to worry about is pretty fabulous.”