By maria yagerMay 31, 2019
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Soldiers and civilian employees at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital hosted the second annual Baby Steps Baby Expo for military families, Friday, May 24.
The free education fair at the post's Family Resource Center featured more than 40 educators and was attended by more than 220 military families who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or welcomed a new family member in the past year.
"I'm extremely proud of our team members' efforts to organize this event for our military families at Fort Campbell. Having a baby is a significant life changing event and the baby expo brought subject matter experts from the hospital, garrison and local community to one place where our beneficiaries could conveniently ask questions, receive information and learn about resources available to them," said hospital commander, Col. Anthony McQueen.
Expo coordinators strived to have representation from every section in the hospital that military families could expect to encounter. Labor and Delivery and Mother Baby staff were available to answer questions and talk about what families may typically experience when they deliver at Blanchfield. Hospital representatives from other sections were also featured. A pharmacist was available to answer questions and provide information about medications for moms and babies. Behavioral health providers offered information on postpartum depression and mental wellness in general for the entire family. Team members from the hospital's pediatric clinic gave out free diapers and had information about well-baby checkups, childhood illnesses and the importance of reading during early child development.
Installation and local representatives helped to round out the expo. Army Community Service representatives talked about the new parent support group and other family oriented services they provide. Child and Youth Services representatives gave families information about childcare options. The Fort Campbell Fire Department shared household safety information for families. Parents were able to learn more about family fitness programs, play groups and nutritional support in the local community.
"So far, we've had great feedback," said 1st Lt. Gladys Kipsang, a nurse on the hospital's Mother Baby Unit and baby expo officer in charge. "We organized this event because some of our beneficiaries don't know the services that are available to them. It's a lot of work behind the scenes, but I'm glad with how it came out."
A steady flow of families filtered through the FRC during the three-hour expo. Kipsang said the planning committee chose to hold the event on the installation's training holiday to enable more Soldiers to join their partners at the event.
"I'm liking it a lot. We're learning a lot … he's an only child and doesn't know anything about babies, so, he needs to know a lot now," said family member Amanda Glaser, who attended the expo with her husband. "This is our first child, so he needs a lot of information."
One of the bigger surprises from the expo came from the patient administration table where staff explained the process of obtaining a birth certificate. "Even though the post is Fort Campbell, Kentucky, it straddles the Kentucky and Tennessee state line. Since the hospital is on the Tennessee side, all babies born at Blanchfield receive a birth certificate from the state of Tennessee," said Ernestine Whitted, from the hospital's office of vital statistics. "A lot of parents are surprised when they learn this, but they don't seem to mind."
The expo brought together a lot of useful information, as well as free giveaways for participants.
"What really intrigued me to come in today was just to be a little more informed about the stuff I didn't know my first pregnancy. For what I came for, I really did find out a ton of stuff that was beneficial and that I wish I would have known my first pregnancy. So I'm really glad that I could get all that information," said family member Xochitl Laursen, a first-time participant of the expo.
The Baby Steps Baby Expo is held once a year. The hospital's Women's Health Clinic offers classes each month on Childbirth, Breastfeeding, Bringing Baby Home and Partner Boot Camp (formerly Daddy Boot Camp).