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Oh, baby: Baby Fair educates new mothers, families


Mariah Hughes, Marshfield, and her husband, Brynden, look forward to their bundle of joy in October.

It’s an exciting and terrifying experience, but she, along with other mothers,  attended the Webster County Health Unit’s first-ever Baby Fair event Thursday in hopes of getting valuable information.

"I do the breastfeeding classes with the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program at the Webster County Health Unit," said Hughes. "I heard about the event during one of the classes and thought it would be a good way to learn about parenting, car seat safety and things like that, just so that my husband and I will be ready."

According to Martha Gehrke, WIC program coordinator, the fair celebrates mothers and families in the community and offers more educational opportunities on some of its programs, including  breastfeeding, infant nutrition, car seat safety and safe sleep.

"With our car seat inspection program, if anyone needs their car seats checked, we can do that," said Gehrke. "We also have our Safe Sleep program. We have a crib class, so moms who qualify can come in and sit for a class. They receive a Pack ’n Play, so they have a safe place for the baby to sleep in."

Through the Safe Kids Car Seat Safety Inspections, parents/guardians can get assistance installing car seats from a certified child passenger safety technician. Free car seats are available if eligibility requirements are met. Nancy Brandt, a nurse practitioner at the Webster County Health Unit, helps with the car safety classes. She also teaches the Safe Sleep classes.

"People who don’t have a crib or a bassinet can come to the class and learn about safe sleep and learn about car seat safety," said Brandt. "I also teach about shaken babies and show them a couple videos so that they know what not to do and why they should make sure their babysitter is someone they can trust."

The class, according to Brandt, is only an hour and takes place the third Friday of every month. Not only did the event serve as educational opportunity, but it also recognized National Breastfeeding Week Aug. 1-7. Krystyna Chastain serves as the breastfeeding peer counselor with the Webster County Health Unit and provides insights for mothers on the basics (how the milk is made, how much milk the baby needs) and other information. Offered through WIC, the program has an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) on staff to assist with breastfeeding education, questions and concerns. Services are provided to all women at no cost, regardless of their enrollment in WIC.

“All of our first-time moms take classes with information on breastfeeding,” said Chastain. “We also do refresher courses for any moms who are wanting to breastfeed their consecutive children.”

Typically, the program has about 300 mothers enrolled, according to Gehrke. Other area programs represented at the event include Choices Pregnancy Center, United Healthcare and Jordan Valley Health Clinic. Jenene Dean, community outreach representative with United Healthcare, was excited about participating in the event in Marshfield, stating she hopes there will be more in the future.

“This is a good thing for the community,” said Dean. “It is good to pull resources and make people aware of them. The educational aspect creates an opportunity for families, especially new parents, to know what’s out there for them, such as health benefits offered  through your health insurance, nutrition tips for babies and children and other things like that.”


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