Malia Vella, an Alameda City Councilwoman, has complaints about the room where she is expected to breastfeed at work.

Holly Quan/KCBS Radio

Windows Lack Coverage In Room For Moms To Use For Breastfeeding In Alameda City Hall

Holly Quan
April 17, 2019 - 3:48 pm

ALAMEDA — A member of the Alameda City Council who is eight months pregnant is leading the charge to create lactation stations in all city buildings. 

Councilwoman Malia Vella shows off the room in the historic city hall where she could breastfeed when her son is born, but there are several flaws. 

"This is one of the options," said Vella.

It's a room in the back of council chambers with multiple windows that lack screens. Some lack curtains or blinds. There are no locks on the doors. In the summer, it's hot and in the winter, it's cold, she said. 

"I'll be breastfeeding on the dais if it comes down to it," said Vella. "I think my son shouldn't have to sacrifice what's being recommended by doctors just because I'm in public office."

City officials are studying how to add gender-neutral bathrooms, diaper changing stations and a lactation pod that would be open to nursing women. 

The landmark status of city hall, which dates to 1896, however, makes it difficult to renovate the building. 

"For a long time, a lot of employers have talked about 'Yes, we're going to be  accommodating.' But to me, it needs to be more than tolerated," said Vella. "It needs to be something that's welcomed and celebrated. It's something that we all go through as human beings. At a very basic level, it's a social justice issue." 

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