By Mark Iacampo, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria -- Hohenfels May 29, 2014
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Agencies from across the Hohenfels Military Community gathered at the Army Community Service's first "Baby Bazaar" to showcase their services to new parents and "mom's to be," recently.
Organizations set up tables with literature and displays explaining their activities, and personnel were on hand to discuss services in depth and answer questions.
"The idea was to take all the local organizations in Hohenfels that would service prenatal to one year old and get them in one place to show our moms and expectant moms what Hohenfels has to offer," said Summer Mack, New Parent Support Program coordinator.
Agencies present ranged from the obvious such as WIC, (Women, Infant, and Child) which can help with supplemental food and nutrition information, to such diverse services as prenatal massages at Belega Wellness Studio in Parsberg.
"We also offer pedicures and manicures," said Michaela L'Manian, Belega owner and massage therapist. "New moms must not forget to sometimes spoil themselves."
Lucy Dawson, who visited the bazaar from Grafenwoehr, said the most unique service she learned about was the Family Home Care Consultant program.
The program offers one-on-one assistance and support in areas ranging from home organization to baby proofing a home.
"Who even knew that was an option?" Dawson said.
Jeannie Gessner, who also attended from Grafenwoehr, said the most interesting thing she learned came from the Dental Clinic.
"I learned I could start introducing (my child) to toothbrushes when she's teething. You freeze the toothbrush and let her chew on it, which helps numb the gums and she'll start recognizing the toothbrush as a good thing and not a bad thing," Gessner said.
Although she's a self-proclaimed "Army brat," Gessner said the bazaar highlighted more options than she knew existed on post.
"This was definitely worth the drive," she said.
Even the Education Center was on hand discussing scholarships and courses of study.
"We have three institutions here today and we're just trying to reach out to (new mothers) saying that even though you have a child you can still continue on with your education," said Randy McNally, Hohenfels Education Services Specialist.
Community Bank, AAFES, Service Credit Union, and the Hohenfels Commissary all supported the event with gift cards, food, and raffle prizes.
Zeina Stone won a new stroller and said the event was worthwhile even without the prize.
"I learned a lot of stuff from the Health Clinic and the Natural Birth group," she said.
The Hohenfels Natural Birth and Parenting Group was created by Chelsea Carey, and her Facebook group has grown from an initial five members to more than 90 members.
"I'm the hippie mom," Carey laughed.
After unpleasant hospital experiences with her first two children, Carey said she needed to find something different. She researched natural birth and parenting, becoming a "birth doula," a person trained and experienced in childbirth that provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth. Carey gave birth to her third child at home in Hohenfels, only one week before the bazaar.
"I want to help other woman find something different," she said. "I do all the research and pass that information on to my clients and help them have more peaceful births whether they choose to do that in a hospital, at home, or in a birth center."
Her support group discusses breast feeding, cloth diapering, essential oils and "baby wearing" or "attachment parenting," which involves carrying the child in a sling wrapped closely to the mother's body. Carey even created a baby wrap "lending library" so parents can first try out the practice without having to purchase a sling of their own.
The bazaar also featured a donation area where parents of older children donated their used items such as swings, high chairs, strollers and clothes for use by new mothers.
"A lot of these moms would have probably had a baby shower when they were back home with their families, but they probably only get a little one here, so this (donation area) is kind of to pamper them and give them the gifts that typically moms would get in a shower," said Mack.
Though already a mother of three, Lindsay Coultas is new to the military and she said she was surprised and impressed with the quantity of services available.
"That was our goal," said Mack. "We wanted to showcase programs people might not know about. I know there are people from Grafenwoehr and Vilseck here, so there's obviously a need for our moms and families to know what's out there.
"We hope to continue to make this a community event in the future," she said.