MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They are meant to be a private space for breast-feeding mothers to feed their babies or pump milk for later, but some believe Minnesota’s major arenas and stadiums should make some changes to their mothers rooms.
Taking in the last warm days has become especially important to the Molly Fyten this year.
“You find very quickly when you first have a kid that there isn’t a whole lot you can do, but you really want to get out of the house,” Fyten said.
She did her research before her trip to Target Field, and knew where she wanted to go when her daughter, Addison, needed to eat.
“I had a bunch of inebriated college students behind me, so I didn’t necessarily want to whip out my stuff and start nursing (laughs),” Fyten said.
Behind home plate in guest services is Target Field’s nursing room. Folding chairs sit around a table as two fans blow through the room.
“Just in comparison of the rest of the building, it just was very shocking to me that the nursing room had little-to-no thought or money put into it,” Fyten said.
Chris Clark is a lactation consultant at M.C. Clark Consulting. She has spent close to 30 years counseling nursing moms.
WCCO asked her to take a look at the mothers rooms at Target Field, Target Center, Xcel Energy Center and TCF Bank Stadium.
Clark thought having hand sanitizer, outlets and a changing station were all a plus at Target Field. But she would like to see a sink and a refrigerator in the room, along with more comfortable chairs.
“This looks more like a place for somebody to come and play cards than a place to be breastfeeding,” Clark said.
Target Center’s family room got a more favorable review.
“Looks like a comfortable place to sit with some pillows,” Clark said.
She liked that other children could be entertained while a mom tends to her baby.
Marcia McCoy from the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition says state law dictates that women can breastfeed anywhere they are authorized to be.
“If you want to have families participate in events, you need to make those moms feel welcome,” McCoy said.
Employers are also required to accommodate nursing moms with a space to be able to pump while they are separated from their babies. It is up to individual businesses if they want to do more.
“If it’s a public space, that’s an extra amenity that the facility is providing and it’s not legally required,” McCoy said.
But Clark believes TCF Bank Stadium can do better. Moms there can use the first aid rooms to nurse on a cot behind a curtain.
A spokesperson for TCF Bank Stadium told WCCO they have not had any complaints from customers.
“We need to start supporting it a little more than just a space. We need to make that space usable and functional and comfortable,” Clark said.
Women can use the family restrooms to breastfeed at the Xcel Energy Center.
“I had a friend say, ‘Would you eat your lunch in the bathroom?'” Moms shouldn’t have to do that,” Clark said.
But an Xcel Energy Center spokesperson says the room is cozy and quiet, and having a bathroom nearby has not been a bad thing.
Fyten passed along her room review to the Twins on Facebook. A team spokesperson told WCCO they are aware of the increasing demand for this service, and Target Field has budgeted for significant upgrades to their mothers room in time for next season.
Clark acknowledged that society has come a long way in this area, but she still believes more can be done to support nursing moms.
“We need to take it seriously just because we really care about babies and we really care about moms,” she said.
WCCO talked to a spokesperson with U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Vikings. They said the new facility will have 50 family restrooms, and that the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority is considering adding a designated mothers room to the stadium.
The Minnesota Department of Health has a program to help workplaces and businesses better support working mothers and their nursing needs. Click here for more information.