Breastfeeding moms at Essentia Health-Sandstone Hospital now have a beautiful, new place to express breast milk. A Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant funded the new lactation room.
“SHIP works to improve the health of communities, and the need for private lactation space was identified here in Sandstone as part of our community health needs assessment (CHNA),” says CHNA representative for Essentia, Tanya Christopherson. “We applied for the $1000 grant in March, and finished the construction at the end of May.”
The lactation room is equipped with a comfortable chair and ottoman for nursing moms. The room also has a labeled lock to indicate it is in use. Additionally, the room includes a refrigerator, trash can, and a sink to wash out pump parts.
“As a nursing mother myself, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a place to quietly express milk,” Chistopherson adds. “It’s a relaxing space that lets you destress and focus.”
Essentia Health encourages breastfeeding for both the health of mom and baby. Babies who breastfeed have a lower risk of ear infections, lower risk of respiratory infections, and lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For mothers, breastfeeding is linked to a lowered risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.
Jessica Blesener also worked to secure funding for the lactation room. She says in the short time it’s been available, moms are very appreciative.
“It’s part of our policy to provide a space for nursing mothers and we saw a wonderful opportunity to create this new space with the construction of the new hospital,” Blesener says. “Before, moms would just go into empty patient rooms, locker rooms, bathrooms, or offices, and there was never a guarantee a space would be available, but now they have a space specially designed just for them.”
The room is accessible to all employees at the newly opened Pine Healthcare campus, including Essentia Health, Gateway Family Health Clinic and Thrifty White Pharmacy. The space will also be available upon request to patients or their family members visiting the hospital.