Over the weekend, expectant families and families with newborns had the opportunity to attend an event that people often take for granted — a baby shower.
The Central Oregon Perinatal Care Team teamed up with community partners to hold community baby showers across the tri-county area and help connect families with services and information, as well as celebrating in typical shower fashion.
"Our major goal was getting them engaged in prenatal care, but along with that is engaging them with all other programs and services that would benefit them and help to have better birth outcomes," said Erin Hoar, the tri-county perinatal care coordinator lead.
"Last year was our first year doing this project," she said.
"We decided, 'Wouldn't it be great to do a baby shower, with the goal of celebrating expectant families and families with newborns?'" Hoar said. "Some people don't ever have the opportunity to be celebrated. With that (we wanted to) capture this target audience of women and families … (and) make them aware of programs in their local community that can help them.
"No requirements of what insurance they have, just really having an entry point for expectant families to enter into care," she said.
The event focused on several big topics of education, as well as providing fun giveaways, raffle prizes and opportunities to have some fun as a family.
"One of our goals was safe sleep," she said. "We don't just want to have this event where it's just giveaways. We want to provide education."
And, although the giveaways are a big part of the event and people really enjoy them, the comments given by attendees were overwhelmingly in regards to the educational components, according to the organizers.
"Maternal mental health was also a focus," Hoar said.
She said the organizers asked themselves, "What are some really important things that we want families to learn about?"
From there, she said, they add the goal of making moms and families feel special and celebrated.
"We had one mom, she won a huge box of diapers and wipes. And I was helping her out to her car, and she said, 'I am so glad you guys did this. I had no idea what to expect. My whole family lives on the East Coast, and I didn't have a baby shower,'" Hoar recalled, adding that the mom said she didn't know much about the programs being presented.
"That's what we want to get out of his event," Hoar said.
"Our goal was that each event looked the same," she said, down to the food, half of which was donated by Bleu Bite Catering, who also served and prepared it.
Despite the fact that all of the events were designed to look the same, there were still personal community touches at several of the events. For example, at the event at The Museum at Warm Springs on Oct. 18, a tribal elder gave a blessing, as well as spoke for a little while on what it was like to raise babies 50 or 60 years ago on the reservation, said Beth Ann Beamer, public health nurse family support services and perinatal programs. "She kind of made the point that a lot of the things they are encouraging now are practices that have been in place in Warm Springs for … millennia."
"That was a very special, different thing that Warm Springs was in a unique position to provide," Beamer said.
In Madras, Dr. Bud Beamer, the county health officer, "has been working for years to try to encourage education of young families about the importance of infant attachment and brain development, and the development of resilience in children and better health long term as they grow into adults," Beth Ann Beamer said.
She added that he was able to do some direct education in the form of two presentations on those topics at the Madras event.
"Both of the settings here in Jefferson County provided great opportunities for direct education," she said.
According to the organizers, the plan is to continue with these events.
"Our goal is to continue this with the capacity that we have," Hoar said.
"You leave this event and you see all of these smiles on people's faces."
She said that made all the time put into the event worth it.
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