Saint Joseph Hospital and the Denver Zoo Team Up to Support Breastfeeding Moms
Every weekend, around 7,000 families visit the Denver Zoo, and thanks to a generous donation from the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, parents now have a quiet place to feed, nurse or pump for their little ones in the new family Mamava lactation privacy pod. Located in the Giraffe House, the pod is ADA accessible and large enough to accommodate a wheelchair or a double stroller, a changing table and plenty of space for moms and babies to sit.
“We’re always looking for new, innovative ways to improve the Zoo experience for our guests and members and make our campus as accessible and comfortable as possible,” said Amber Christopher, Chief Operating Officer for Denver Zoo. “We’re grateful to Saint Joseph Hospital for their donation of the Mamava Lactation Pod in our Giraffe House, and to Intermountain Healthcare for their generous support of the Zoo.”
The $35,000 lactation pod was funded through Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation’s NICU/Family Health fund and opened in July. It features photos of real moms who delivered their babies at Saint Joe’s and worked with the hospital’s lactation consultants, alongside stories of the Zoo’s baby giraffes and rhinos who have also been feeding.
“For nearly 150 years, we've been a leader in the state in terms of the most babies born,” said Leslie McKay, Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation Executive Director. “We’re known for exceptional care for mothers and their children, and that care extends beyond the walls of the hospital. It’s about how we take care of families beyond birth. Saint Joe’s is one of the only hospitals that offers an outpatient lactation clinic, and we welcome families that had babies at other hospitals all over the area to take advantage of these services.”
SCL Health, now Intermountain Healthcare, also has a three-year partnership with the Denver Zoo that includes hosting two educational events per year at the Zoo where the Saint Joe’s staff can meet with community members to inform them about the hospital’s parenting classes and labor and delivery services. The Zoo generously provides tickets to families who had their babies at Saint Joe’s and to moms who participate in its breastfeeding and toddler support groups.
“Our goal is to be an active and integral part of what’s happening during the pregnancy and postpartum journey for families,” said Katie Halverstadt, RN, BSN, IBCLC, Saint Joseph Hospital Clinical Manager of Lactation and Family Education. “We want to be a staple in the community, supporting moms emotionally and educationally, and to have fun.”
Saint Joe’s provides evidence-based, educational support for breastfeeding families and is Baby-Friendly designated, which means they offer superb lactation services, train staff and providers with lactation support, promote and protect breastfeeding and safe formula feeding and sell donor milk to the public. In addition to offering pregnancy and toddler support groups, the hospital holds dad support groups virtually and hosts baby hikes that are free and open to anyone in the community, even if they didn’t give birth at Saint Joe’s.
“We’re trying to build community through collaboration with organizations like the Denver Zoo because we don’t want moms to feel alone. We are here to educate, support and connect because we know when moms and families gather together, it decreases postpartum depression and anxiety. Saint Joseph Hospital is not just a place to deliver your baby,” notes Halverstadt.