A local start-up has come up with a solution for nursing mothers who need to pump milk on the go.

Go!Mama makes and manages lactation pods, which are mobile units that provide mothers with a safe, clean and private space to nurse their infants or express milk. The units are free to use.

Following a six-month trial of five lactation pods on Sentosa, the company is now extending its services to nursing mothers working in commercial buildings and business parks.

In January, it set up a pod at LaunchPad @ one-north in Ayer Rajah, which is developed by government agency JTC Corporation.

In September, more pods will be rolled out across JTC’s properties, such as Fusionopolis Two at one-north and The JTC Summit in Jurong.

Ms Vivian Lee, founder and chief executive of Go!Mama, said the company has deployed the pods at several places such as corporate offices, neighbourhood community centres and malls, and places of worship, as well as at events and conferences.

“We hope to engage with key partners in different sectors to support mothers, so that there’ll be a greater chance of scaling up and rolling out more pods,” she added.

The mother of two children – an eight-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter – faced problems finding suitable places to breastfeed and pump when she was out of the house. “I realised it wasn’t easy finding clean and conducive places – at work, I would pump in a storeroom that couldn’t be locked, and I had colleagues pumping in the toilet, which is a common situation,” she said.

The idea of standalone pods took shape over many supper chats with her husband, who has been supportive of her taking the leap as an entrepreneur.

“I saw many working pods in buildings and that made me wonder – why not have something similar for mothers?” Ms Lee said.

“You need to make it easy for companies, because it’s not in their budget to have lactation spaces.”

To use the pods, mothers need to download the Go!Mama app and verify their identity using Singpass.

Only those with children aged three and below can use the space, which also has an automated ultraviolet disinfection system to prevent cross-contamination and maintain hygiene after each use.

More than 2,500 mothers used the pods on Sentosa, based on data collected during the trial, with an average session lasting 21 minutes per user.

Ms Sandy Tan, 34, who has a nine-month-old son, has been using the lactation pod at LaunchPad @ one-north since going back to work in January.

“It’s hard to come back to work as a new mum. There are so many hurdles you’re trying to cross, and finding a space to pump and breastfeed is definitely one of them,” said the art director at a start-up.

“I really love the fact that the pod is Singpass-connected, so you know that the people who are using it have children under three years old… It also gives me peace of mind to know that the surfaces are clean and well maintained.”

Text: Amelia Teng/The Straits Times