Essentia Health St. Mary's-Detroit Lakes receives breastfeeding friendly designation

May 28, 2024  By: Caitlin Pallai


Essentia Health St. Mary's-Detroit Lakes has earned five stars under the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH) Five-Star recognition program due to its efforts to promote and support breastfeeding and infant-feeding best practices.

The Five-Star recognition program is based on the World Health Organization's Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a set of comprehensive policies and practices shown to increase breastfeeding initiation, duration and exclusivity. Birthing centers in Minnesota receive a star for every two steps achieved. These steps include:

  • Having a comprehensive infant-feeding policy.
  • Educating new parents about the benefits of breast/chestfeeding.
  • Ensuring birthing parents and babies have skin-to-skin contact following birth.
  • Keeping parents and babies together throughout their hospital stay.

"This designation demonstrates the high quality of care that we provide to our patients and our community,"; explained Kimberly Veralrud, birthplace manager at St. Mary's-Detroit Lakes. "We want patients to know that, starting early in pregnancy, we provide evidence-based education so they can plan and anticipate a birthing experience that supports their wishes. Our goal is to educate and improve the health of our communities, and I want to commend our entire team for their work in achieving this designation."

According to MDH, human milk is a foundational way to ensure that babies receive optimal nutrition during the formative years of life. Studies show infants who receive human milk have better health outcomes as they grow, and breastfeeding mothers have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis.

By receiving the MDH Five-Star recognition, St. Mary's-Detroit Lakes joins four other Essentia Health hospitals committed to the highest standards of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Essentia Health-FargoEssentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical CenterEssentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center and Essentia Health-Virginia are all designated as Baby-Friendly® hospitals by Baby-Friendly USA (BFUSA).

If you are interested in embarking on your maternity journey at St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes, please call (218) 847-0804 or visit and take a virtual tour of the birthing center today.

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