Mobile tent offer mothers private breastfeeding space

Written by: Kirsten Faurie, Kanabec County Times Editor editor@moraminn.com
August 20, 2017

A new resource to help Kanabec County communities support breastfeeding mothers made its debut Saturday, Aug. 5 at Ogilvie’s Back to the Tower Days celebration.

Maintained by Kanabec County Public Health, the 5-foot by 5-foot blue pop-up tent clearly labeled “Lactation Room” is meant to provide breastfeeding mothers who desire privacy a clean, comfortable space to feed their babies or pump breastmilk while attending community events.

The portable tent can be set up by a single person in a few minutes and is a free asset available for event organizers to “check out” for use. The tent can be set up indoors or out and comes with two chairs and signage to advertise its location.

The tent was first erected during World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7) among the vendors area at Ogilvie’s Back to the Tower Days Saturday, Aug. 5.

The tent was the result of a collaborative effort between Kanabec County Community Health, FirstLight Health System, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, East Central Breastfeeding Coalition, Kanabec Publications and Partners in Healthy Living. It was purchased and furnished through a SHIP grant; signage was created through the financial assistance of FirstLight Health System.

Ellie White, Kanabec County WIC coordinator, said the goal is to help support breastfeeding and its many benefits to mothers, babies and communities.

Thus far, much of their focus has been on helping workplaces become breastfeeding friendly.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, more than 80 percent of new mothers in Minnesota WIC choose to breastfeed, but only about 35 percent breastfeed their infants at six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be fed only breastmilk through the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding through the first year and beyond to achieve optimal growth, development and health.

Kanabec County supports breastfeeding by providing free breastfeeding education and support for anyone in the county. Kanabec County Public Health currently has five certified lactation counselors on staff that are willing to offer breastfeeding support through home visits, office visits or phone counseling.

Federal and Minnesota laws require employers to provide support for nursing employees to pump breastmilk at work, but benefits to employers to accommodate nursing mothers goes beyond just complying with the law.   Additional benefits include:

  • increased employee loyalty
  • reduced turnover
  • increased productivity
  • lower health care costs as studies have shown breastfeeding boosts infant immune systems and lowers the mother’s risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer.

“Ultimately, however, the true benefit comes when the breastfeeding employee shows pictures of her baby and sees the face of a happy, healthy child smiling back,” said White.

Businesses that support their breastfeeding employees are eligible for recognition by the Minnesota Department of Health as a Minnesota Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. For more information and resources visit www.health.state.mn.us/divs/oshii/bf/BFFworkplace.html.

The Kanabec County WIC program can be reached at 320-679-6329.

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