Dozens of expectant mothers and parents of newborns celebrated life and healthy pregnancies at the Ninth Annual Healthy DC Mom Baby Shower on May 4, at United Medical Center in southeast Washington.

The event hosted by the D.C. Department of Health (DOH) Healthy Start project and the United Medical Center, was part of a campaign to increase awareness about having healthier pregnancies.

“The DOH Healthy Start project has worked for the last 20 years on making sure that women have the necessary resources to have a healthy baby,” said DOH Senior Deputy Director of Community Health, Dr. Samia Altaf. “This campaign is essential to the health and well-being of pregnant mothers because it encourages them to commit to 40 weeks of early and continuous prenatal care, staying fit and eating right, and keeping their baby safe and healthy.”

Mothers received visited several exhibits that provided gifts and valuable information about staying healthy during pregnancy as well as guidance through the toddler years.

“The program has been very helpful to me as a young mother,” said 16-year old, Iyana Walton, a junior at Anacostia Senior High School. ‘I started getting prenatal care the first month because I wanted me and my baby to be healthy.” Walton plans to graduate from high school and attend college. “Completing my education through college is a must. I want the best for my baby.”

LaTanya James, 26, agreed that early prenatal care is extremely helpful during pregnancy. ‘I didn’t want to risk not providing my baby with the medical attention needed to ensure a healthy baby. It feels good to know while you’re pregnant that you have no problems,” said James.

The project aims to give every baby a healthy start by focusing on high-risk and low-income pregnant women, as well as, postpartum women with infants up to three months of age. It provides access to experts and resources on family planning, breastfeeding, nutrition, depression, domestic violence, SIDS, and women’s health.

Pasha Diallo (Dominque), a well-known full-figure model and actress from the Anacostia web-series shared her personal experiences about raising children as a single mother and accomplishing her lifetime goals. Diallo has a profession in the healthcare field as a registered nurse.

Based on the latest report from the Center for Policy, Planning and Evaluation, the D.C. Department of Health announced a historic decrease in the District’s infant mortality rate to eight infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

“This is remarkable. We went from one of the worst records with an infant mortality rate of 20 per every 1,000 births to 8. We will not stop until we have achieved better results. But this is phenomenal,” said Karen Watts, bureau chief from the Department of Health Perinatal and Infant Health Bureau.

WPGC on-air personality, Free, was mistress of ceremonies. Representatives from United Medical Center, D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and D.C. Department of Mental Health enlightened the mothers about services available with their organizations.

The mission of the DOH is to promote and protect the health, safety and quality of life of residents, visitors, and those doing business in the District of Columbia. To learn more about its programs visit www.doh.dc.gov. Please call 1-800 MOM BABY for additional information about the D.C. Healthy Start project.

Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO