Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart hosted its third annual baby expo Aug. 24 in an effort to provide information and education to new and expecting parents. The event was open to the public, and more than 520 families attended.
“The turnout was the greatest it has ever been,” said event coordinator Capt. Beth Andrade of the medical-detachment unit.
Of the participants, 206 were expectant mothers, and many others recently gave birth, are planning to become pregnant or attended as family members. The hospital averages more than 100 deliveries a month, Andrade said. This number has increased during the past few years, which prompted the need for the first baby expo in 2011.
“Our goal is to provide our local community families who have recently given birth, are pregnant or plan to become pregnant with education on all the resources available to them at Winn, on Fort Stewart and in the community,” Andrade said.
The event featured displays and vendors from both on- and off-post agencies. The number of educational booths increased from 29 last to year to 40 this year. Many booths offered information Fort Stewart and in the community,” Andrade said.
The event featured displays and vendors from both on- and off-post agencies. The number of educational booths increased from 29 last to year to 40 this year. Many booths offered information about classes available at the hospital to help prepare families for child birth. Physicians and nurses answered parents’ questions and explained all the free services available to them. Services range from prenatal and breast feeding classes to epidural information.
“I think people have a lot of misconceptions about getting an epidural,” Andrade said. “We wanted to clear up those misconceptions.”
A nurse anesthetist explained to moms-to-be how an epidural works and what they can expect after it is administered.
The event also offered information on natural births. A midwife offered tips for preparing for a birth without routine medical interventions. The event also featured nutrition information for pregnancy and a child’s first year of life.
“There is a lot of conflicting information going around and it is hard to figure out what is right,” said Capt. Todd Heer of the medical detachment nutrition department. “That’s why we offer nutrition classes to get the right information out there.”
Heer said normal weight gain during pregnancy should be between 15 and 35 pounds.
“I’ve seen some people gain as much as 80 pounds,” he said. “You aren’t really eating for two; it is more like eating for one and a drop.”
He explained that a woman should only consume about 300 to 500 extra calories a day at most. Winn provides pregnancy-nutrition classes, and organizers soon plan to offer a class focused on the first year of a child’s life. It will educate expectant mothers on organic food and how to navigate the WIC system.
“Everyone is different, so you can’t say there is just one answer,” he said. “You have to look at the whole situation and the big picture.”
Off-post vendors also participated in the event, showcasing available resources in the community. Babies “R” Us, Similac and Stroller Strides representatives handed out information and samples.
Representatives from the American Red Cross and the Exceptional Family Member Program distributed information about parent-support groups. Operation Home Front representatives handed out bags stuffed with baby supplies.
Attendees drifted from booth to booth, receiving information, samples and a chance to win prizes. Participants collected stamps at each booth, and those who obtained stamps from all 40 booths were entered for a chance to win prizes. A raffle drawing also was held every hour for gift baskets and smaller prizes.
“Overall, the event was successful, and we hope to make it even better next year,” Andrade said.