Supporting Women in Motherhood and Fanship

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Lisa Ingarfield | @tritodefi

As I walked into Mile High Stadium to watch the Broncos this October, I noticed something different. Right there, nestled between the entrance and a food vendor was a UCHealth nursing suite. I immediately pulled out my phone to snap a picture. This is fantastic, I thought. How cool is it, that a sports stadium, not generally the friendliest of places for nursing mothers, had this nursing suite? Private, secure, and clean. Nursing mothers, or indeed any family member, can enter the suite to nurse, pump, feed, or comfort their newborn and still be able to attend their favorite games.

  The UCHealth nursing suite at Mile High Stadium. 

The UCHealth nursing suite at Mile High Stadium. 

As it turns out, UCHealth has partnerships with the Pepsi Center, Mile High, and Coors Field. Denver is the first city to offer private nursing suites at all of its major sporting venues. All three of the nursing suites were rolled out in early 2017. I spoke with UCHealth’s director of corporate partnerships, Christina Hixson, about how these nursing stations came to be. Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, the entity that owns the Pepsi Center had approached UCHealth about the idea. UCHealth jumped at the chance to provide this service to Colorado families. The response to the first station at the Pepsi Center was overwhelmingly positive, leading to partnerships with Mile High and Coors Field.

A Professional and Personal Project

Hixson, a new mom herself, is proud of this project. The conversations around developing the suite sites coincided with Hixson’s return to work from maternity leave. As a new mom, she was experiencing first-hand what it was like to need private, safe, and clean places to pump or breastfeed. Prior to having her first child, she, like many of us, hadn’t thought about the need for these kinds of suites in public event spaces. “Every woman has her own journey when it comes to nursing,” Hixson shares. UCHealth wanted to “support women along their nursing journey . . . [we] wanted to provide another option for them,” so as fans attending a sporting event, they had somewhere to go.

Too many times I have heard stories of women who had to squish into a bathroom cubicle to pump or breastfeed. Public restrooms are far from sanitary for this kind of activity, yet women are often left with this as their only option. The result is women often make the choice to stay home rather than go to an event where they cannot be sure there is a private, clean place for them to pump. This means we unintentionally exclude nursing mothers from public, social, and sporting events during this time in their lives. That has never seemed right to me. With the installation of these new nursing suites, UCHealth and its sports venue partners are taking a strong step in recognizing the varying needs of their clients and fans.

Have Nursing Suite will Travel

Broads, what’s even cooler than a nursing suite at a sporting venue? That would be a custom built inflatable nursing pod, available for use at any public event in which UCHealth is involved. A partnership between Denver-based company Proctor Productions, and UCHealth resulted in the design of nursing pods that can be taken to any event to provide clean and private nursing suites for families. They are self-contained units with walls, chairs, fans, and even outlets to charge phones or other equipment. They have a privacy zipper and flap, with clear messaging to indicate when it is occupied. Whether it is a 5K fundraiser or a career fair, these inflatable pods will enable families to more fully engage in community events when they have newborn nursing needs. The prototype pod will be inflating its way to an event near you in Spring 2018.

 
  The interior of a nursing suite. 

The interior of a nursing suite. 

 

Make sure you share your love of these initiatives, broads! Hearing positive feedback and your ideas drives UCHealth to keep innovating in support of the health and wellness needs of Colorado women and girls.