Visitors at this year's Becker County Fair may have noticed that there is a curtained-off area at the Essentia Health information booth inside Kent Freeman Arena.
Inside is a small, quiet spot for breastfeeding moms to feed their babies, change diapers or just enjoy some quiet time inside the air-conditioned comfort of the arena.
About 8-by-10 feet in size, this "comfort station" is a joint effort of the Birthplace at Essentia Health St. Mary's Hospital in Detroit Lakes and Becker County Community Health.
"We're on one side of the booth, and they're on the other," says Emily Roberts, a registered nurse who serves as the hospital's lactation coordinator. "We offer this comfort station for all moms at the fair, but especially breastfeeding moms so they have a little privacy for breastfeeding their babies.
"Inside, we have a really nice changing station, with a carpet square and a couple of rocking chairs to try and make it feel more 'homey'," Roberts added.
For added comfort, volunteers at the booth are also providing free bottled water for comfort station users to cool off after a morning, afternoon or evening spent at the fairgrounds.
"Moms can come and go as they please," Roberts said. "This allows them to stay at the fair while they're feeding their babies and also get out of the heat."
This comfort station is just the latest effort by Essentia Health to help support new mothers, Roberts added.
"We’ve got a Mom’s Morning Out group that meets at La Barista every Thursday at 10:30 a.m.," she said. "There are about eight to 10 of them who come every week."
New moms are invited to bring their infants every Thursday morning and enjoy visiting with other breastfeeding moms over a cup of coffee, tea, or any other beverage on the La Barista menu.
"They (La Barista's staff) blessed us with the back room," Roberts added, so the moms can enjoy a little privacy if they need to breastfeed their newborn while attending one of the hour-long group meetings, or have their questions answered by a breastfeeding and infant care expert (who is also present at the meetings).
"There are several moms who attend this group and have formed long-lasting friendships while tackling the challenges and sharing the rewards of breastfeeding," added Tara Ekren, a media relations specialist at Essentia.
Roberts said there is always room for more at the Morning Out group.
For more information, or to sign up, call 218-314-7051.