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If there’s a childbirth trend that sets the Rio Grande Valley apart from the rest of the country, it’s that diabetes is prevalent here and can complicate pregnancies. And while you may hear about diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity often, medical experts at local healthcare institutions believe one can never be too informed.
In fact, one institution, South Texas Health System, is dedicating an entire event to educating expecting mothers in preparation for motherhood and childbirth: the Baby Bump & Beyond Expo.
Scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Maternity Center at STHS Edinburg, at 1102 W. Trenton Road in Edinburg, the inaugural expo will feature experts discussing infant health, breastfeeding, care post-delivery, adjusting to parenting and postpartum depression.
But there’s much more to the event than these issues.
Gracie Chavana, the director of women’s services and nurseries at STHS McAllen, identified several factors expecting mothers should consider that may not already be common knowledge.
“We have a high rate of diabetic patients in the Valley so those moms tend to have larger babies, and everybody thinks ‘oh a large baby is good,’ but not for the baby,” Chavana said. “They have issues with their blood sugar after birth so they need monitoring for that because their blood sugar drops as soon as they’re born.”
Chavana explained that complications such as blood sugar levels emphasize the importance of prenatal care to ensure the mother and baby remain healthy throughout the pregnancy.
She explained that prenatal care can help diabetic moms use diet control or medication to help control blood sugar levels during their pregnancy.
If precautions are not taken it could lead to other complications such as high blood pressure, and hypertension that can also have an effect on the baby.
Although she acknowledges that midwives are a good resource for moms-to-be, she also encourages expecting mothers who are aware of potential complications to deliver in a hospital due to the emergency care available, such as a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.
“At STHS McAllen, we have a level three NICU. So if any issues come up with preterm delivery or any complication we have a NICU that is staffed by neonatologists and nurse practitioners 24/7,” Chavana said.
Throughout the event, Moreno explained that expecting mothers will learn about the importance of prenatal care and other healthcare resources.
Sharing these resources is important for a region that has a high birth rate, Moreno said. And although she didn’t have data to pinpoint the exact rate, the women’s services director noted that the Valley has long had a high birth rate. That is until COVID-19, she explained.
During that time, she personally witnessed less childbirths and said that it was only recently that the region saw that change.
For Tom Castañeda, system director of marketing and public relations at STHS, the goal of the expo is to focus on what expecting mothers can do prior to, during and after their pregnancies that can help increase their chances of having a healthy baby.
Castañeda also said the expo is a way of bringing the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book to life with presentations from experts that will help ease a soon-to-be mother’s mind.
“We want to make sure that moms are as prepared as possible for the entire birthing process,” Castañeda said.
According to Castañeda, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the Maternity Center at STHS in Edinburg while also learning more about the one at STHS McAllen. He explained that the tour is provided to help expectant mothers better prepare and be more comfortable knowing where they’ll be when their baby comes.
Castañeda hopes the tour will help moms-to-be become more acquainted with the setup of the facility and its resources including the postpartum rooms, nursery and waiting room. Throughout the tour, attendees will also have the opportunity to meet some of the labor and delivery nurses and staff.
“It’s all great information that can help reduce an expectant mom’s stress levels when they rush to the hospital.”
The expo will also feature healthy cooking demonstrations, pregnancy and post-pregnancy safe exercise classes led by FIT4MOM, free health screening and raffle prizes.
Other organizations will also be at the event to provide services to expectant mothers.
For more information about the expo visit the STHS Facebook events page or call the STHS marketing department at (956) 388-2020.