Ministry facilities provide private spaces for nursing moms at tourist destinations

May 15, 2023


Finding a private place to nurse or pump breast milk at tourist destinations can be a challenge. Two ministry facilities are meeting this need as part of broader partnerships with tourist sites in their communities.

In addition to sponsoring baby care stations at the Silver Dollar City theme park near Branson, Missouri, Mercy health system also sponsors this family calming space, where kids with sensory processing disorders can take a break from the stimulation of the park to rest or play.

The foundation of Saint Joseph Hospital donated a freestanding lactation privacy pod to the Denver Zoo. And Chesterfield, Missouri-based Mercy has partnered to locate five baby care and nursing stations at the Silver Dollar City theme park near Branson, Missouri.

Denver Zoo
The $35,000 Mamava-brand lactation pod came courtesy of Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation's NICU/Family Health fund. It is prominently located inside an entrance to the zoo's giraffe house. To access the private space, a mother signs into the Mamava app and gets the code to open the door.

The large pod, which was put in service in July, accommodates a double-wide stroller. It is wheelchair accessible. The pod has a changing table, seating for mothers and babies and electrical outlets to power a breast milk pump.

Photos of baby mammals — including human, rhino and giraffe — and their mothers decorate interior and exterior walls. The women who are featured in lactation stories displayed in the pod delivered their babies at Saint Joseph and consulted with the hospital's lactation specialists.

Katie Halverstadt, clinical manager of lactation and family education for Saint Joseph, says that as a designated Baby-Friendly Hospital, Saint Joseph has committed to support new moms in successfully feeding their babies, including after their discharge from the hospital.

Before the pod was installed, women were left to their own resources to find a quiet, clean, safe place to feed their babies or pump breast milk for them. Halverstadt says women in Saint Joseph's breastfeeding support groups have told her they appreciate the convenience and privacy of the pod. It allows them to enjoy a family outing while sticking with their breastfeeding goals. Halverstadt says participating in wholesome social activities can counter postpartum depression and anxiety.

A foundation connected with Saint Joseph Hospital of Denver provided funding for this family lactation pod, which is located in the giraffe house of the Denver Zoo. Mothers can enjoy privacy as they feed their babies or pump breast milk.

The family lactation pod is part of a sponsorship that Saint Joseph's former parent company SCL Health forged with the zoo. Intermountain Health, which merged with SCL Health in April 2022, has continued the sponsorship.

Saint Joseph staff present two educational events annually at the zoo to highlight services for expectant and new parents. Saint Joseph also has provided free zoo tickets to families who delivered at the hospital or who participated in the hospital's breastfeeding and toddler support groups.

Silver Dollar City
The five baby care stations that Mercy sponsors at Silver Dollar City are part of a collaboration that Mercy and Silver Dollar City announced in spring 2022. The southern Missouri theme park, which welcomes an average of 2 million-plus visitors each year, says it consults with its "official health care sponsor" Mercy on meeting the health needs of park visitors. Mercy has more than 40 acute care, managed and specialty hospitals across Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Also as part of the sponsorship, Mercy provides and brands numerous courtesy hand sanitizing stations throughout the park.

Mercy and Silver Dollar City worked together to create a family calming space, a room at the park where families can bring their children who have sensory processing disorders. The room has a subdued color palette; soft seating; low lighting; books; and a "crash pad" for kids to use to rest, roll around or play on.

A highlight of the park is artisans who demonstrate to visitors how products were made in the 1880s. Some of those craftspeople created the décor in the family calming space. They made a large, textured wall mural portraying the Frisco Silver Dollar Train that traverses the park. The wall has dimensional layers of smooth and rougher surfaces, artificial grass, wood for the railroad ties, stone for the tunnel and glass beads for the sky. According to information from Mercy, some kids with developmental disabilities find comfort in touching textures. The mural was designed with them in mind.


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