Penn Medicine hosts free baby shower for community

Where can you learn about injury prevention and nutrition for your children, receive dental and blood pressure screenings, plus enter to win a year’s supply of diapers? At the 2016 Greater Philadelphia Community Baby Shower put on by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), United Healthcare, the School of Nursing, and partners.

HUP hosted the free event for the first time in 2009; the hospital expected a couple hundred people, but more than 1,000 showed up. Pamela Mack-Brooks, coordinator of community health outreach for HUP, says they’re hoping for a similar turnout at this year’s shower, which takes place on Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Penn Ice Rink, 3130 Walnut St.

“We encourage, moms, dads, grandparents, any caregivers to come out,” Mack-Brooks says.

The event came to Philadelphia by way of Raquel McNabb, wife of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. In 2007, she paired up with Pennsylvania State Sen. Shirley Kitchen to hold the inaugural shower at Temple University Medical Center. Several baby showers have been held around the city since. This year’s event is the second shower thrown at Penn.

In addition to refreshments and music, the event offers the chance for parents-to-be and families with children up to age 3 to speak with Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia health care professionals about a mother’s needs during and after pregnancy, and a baby’s needs once he or she is born. Attendees can also hear brief lectures about topics like poison control, health coverage, and the importance of reading to children.

The community shower focuses on education, but Mack-Brooks says it’s also about having fun and reinforcing positive messages to parents.

“I hope that as participants of the event, they take away something new or they validate that they’re doing well, that they are on the right path,” she says. “You learn something new every day, no matter how old you are.”

More than 60 vendors will also set up at the rink with information and giveaways, including Plum Organics, which plans to hand out baby smoothies, and the Maternity Care Coalition, which will raffle off cribs. The grand prize is a year’s worth of diapers, though to enter that drawing, participants must engage in several of the day’s educational resources.

For Mack-Brooks and the other health care professionals involved, offering support to people who may not have it drove the yearlong effort to revive the shower in University City. Mack-Brooks says she’s particularly passionate about the focus on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“If we can help educate a parent and reduce one SIDS death, that will have been worth it,” she says. “There’s no cost for the life of a baby that’s too high.”

Community Baby Shower