FORT HOOD, Texas - On a cool autumn day, the Women’s Health Department at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center hosted the second annual Baby Expo Oct. 19.
The Baby Expo was an event designed to help educate expectant parents about various topics from breastfeeding to postpartum depression. The expo featured external vendors, educational tables and free food.
Participants started the Baby Expo by signing in at the front desk where staff members gave them each a bingo card.
The bingo cards served two purposes: to inform the participants about different topics concerning infants and enabling them to enter a raffle after visiting all of the educational tables, said Capt. Renee Hart, coordinator of Baby Expo, a labor and delivery staff nurse at CRDAMC.
“The raffle prizes varied from breastfeeding supplies to essential baby items to bedtime story books put together by the different departments that participated,” Hart said.
Months of planning went in to the Baby Expo, Hart said.
“We have been planning (the Baby Expo) since April, and we put a committee together comprised of 10 central people in charge of the large tasks,” Hart said. “The Baby Expo committee pulled all the different departments together that had educational tables to decide on what topics would be taught.”
“It took me about seven hours to complete the poster for my table, “ said Capt. Kim Feeney, a registered dietician for the nutrition care department at CRDAMC. “Most of the information that I used came from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”
All of the topics at the educational tables pertained to maternal and child health.
“I’m one of our inpatient dieticians, and I thought about some of the issues that I see with eating from people that get admitted to our clinic,” Feeney said. “Babies don’t come with a manual; a lot of people don’t get taught how to feed a baby, and the proper nutrition needed within the first year of life.”
Baby Expo served as an informational haven for expectant parents, ensuring they have the opportunity to become knowledgeable on various baby topics, Feeney said.
“I’ve had several parents stop at my table and ask about nutrition information on advice they’ve heard from other sources,” Feeney said.
Not only did expectant mothers attend the Baby Expo to learn all they could, but expectant fathers also received information on things they can help with.
“My wife and I learned a lot from the different tables that were set up, and we received so much information that we didn’t have before,” said Spc. Benjamin Rogers, a heavy equipment operator and expectant dad.
Safety of a newborn was a huge topic of concern for the Baby Expo, Feeney said.
“I feel that the expectant parents can walk away from this event more knowledgeable on babies’ needs, as well as the latest research,” Feeney added.
All of those manning educational tables are providers at the hospital.
“We have such a large amount of patients; the provider only gets an average of 15 minutes per appointment,” Hart said. “Baby Expo gives expectant parents the opportunity to ask questions they might not otherwise have time for at an appointment without feeling rushed.”
The expo also used games to capture fun moments of parenthood. One of the games participants played at the expo was Daddy Diaper Derby. The rules of the derby required expectant fathers to put a diaper on a teddy bear in the fastest amount of time while blindfolded.
Rogers, the winner of the derby, said he didn’t go into the competition cold.
“I’ve had tons of practice over the years because of all of the late-night diaper changes,” said Rogers with a smile in reference to his two-year-old son Logan. “I can do it in my sleep.”
Baby Expo also offered tours of CRDAMC’s labor and delivery department for expectant Families.
The tours showcased what can be expected, from the admission process to the room designed for labor and delivery, Hart said.
“We wanted the event to be informative, as well as fun,” she said.
“The Baby Expo is a lot of fun,” Rogers said. “I’m glad my wife and I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s expo.”