LA Convention Center – Breastfeeding Friendly!

BreastfeedLA is thrilled to share the amazing news that the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) is Breastfeeding Friendly!  We spoke to Carisa Malanum, CMP, Vice President of Event Service for the LACC  about the process of identifying space at one of the busiest public locations in the world.

With more than 2 million visitors, 350 events and creating 12,000 jobs, the LACC is setting the standard for supporting breastfeeding mothers all over the country!

Ariel view of the LA Convention Center

Aerial view of the Los Angeles Convention Center

BreastfeedLA:  Tell us how you decided to provide breastfeeding-friendly facilities at the LA Convention Center?

Carisa Malanum:  Last year, the Los Angeles Convention Center, which is owned by the City of Los Angeles and managed by AEG, embarked on a project of creating lactation rooms for clients, contractors and guests.  We find that not only do visitors look for this area, but more frequently, we are asked by convention/event organizers about the availability of this accommodation when they are considering our venue for their national conventions and meetings.

BreastfeedLA:  I’m sure with so much space, it was easy to designate a couple of rooms for breastfeeding mothers.

Carisa Malanum:   Actually, with almost a million square feet, all of it well planned and dedicated, we had to be thoughtful about finding space that was both convenient, available and wouldn’t disrupt our existing planned uses.

We  identified areas in our First Aid office in the West Hall and the South Hall that would offer the space and the convenience to nursing moms.  AEG partnered with GES, one of our general service contractors to provide wall units

LA Convention Center Lactation Room

Los Angeles Convention Center Lactation Room

and carpets.  Our staff provided labor to paint the space and improve lighting.  Yours truly donated handmade art pieces for the walls.  The universal “breastfeeding moms welcome here” logo is prominently displayed outside the rooms and highly visible in the hallway. The results are two beautiful, bright and inviting spaces for baby and mom to latch and bond to their heart’s content.

BreastfeedLA:  When did these rooms become available?

Carisa Malanum:  Our new lactation rooms were launched in Fall 2014 and one of our first citywide conventions that took advantage of our accommodations was the Society of Women Engineers with nearly 6,000 attendees….it was big hit!  Since then, we have found an increase in its use and visitors have given us positive comments on the space.  When conducting tours, our Sales Managers and Event Managers now proudly showcase our lactation rooms to event organizers, who are highly impressed that an accommodation is made in a convention center of our size.  In many other convention centers, event organizers end up converting one of their meeting rooms into lactation rooms for their staff and attendees.

LA Convention Center, First Aid Office Lactation Space, before conversion

LA Convention Center, First Aid Office Lactation Space, before conversion.

BreastfeedLA:  How about your own employees?  May they use this space?

Carisa Malanum:   Yes!  I actually have two employees right now who needed accommodations!  One of the employees was having her office painted, so she appreciated being able to utilize these spaces.  We have glass panels that would have not made their offices private, so we frosted the panels so that their offices could be utilized.

In addition, AEG also made sure that our staff is properly trained in addressing the needs of nursing moms and understanding the laws that support the right to nurse in public.  No mother should be directed to utilize a bathroom!  The First Aid offices are staffed with our medical response team (Emergency Medical Treatment) and so the rooms are monitored.  We incorporated language into our Event Planning Guide that reads:

“Los Angeles Convention Center recognizes public accommodation for all breastfeeding mothers (CA Civil Code 43.3) in any authorized public locations. For those requiring additional privacy, the Center has two lactation rooms for nursing moms, located in the First Aid offices in South Hall Lobby (main level by Pico Street entrance) and in West Hall Lobby (outside Hall A – across from Petree C).”

BreastfeedLA:  Was it hard to convince management that this was the right choice?

Carisa Malanum:   I understood the challenges that women experience because I come from a family who supports women to breastfeed.  I discovered that once I educated our management about this need and they realized that this was going to give our convention center an advantage, our general manager was incredibly supportive in finding solutions to providing this amenity.  We are proud to support breastfeeding mothers visiting our facility!