Jun. 8, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
LIJ Forest Hills on June 4 held a community baby shower for an estimated 40 mothers at the hospital’s cafeteria. The parents took part in games, were entertained by local performers and received gifts such as baby clothing, diapers, baby bathtubs, nursing pads and baby wipes.
Each of the 40 women for whom this baby shower was thrown were of low or moderate income. Some, like Shirelle Fletcher of Cyprus Hill, had never experienced quintessential baby showers before despite already having children.
“There’s many different circumstances why women are unable to throw themselves a baby shower,” Fletcher said. “That’s why this kind of event is really important because it celebrates you.”
Fletcher ended up going straight from the baby shower to the hospital’s Labor and Delivery on the third floor, where she was induced into labor. She gave birth to a healthy 6-pound-11-ounce baby girl. This is her third child; she also has an 18-year-old and 3-year-old boy.
The hospital’s staff devoted multiple weeks preparing for this community baby shower. In addition to buying supplies, making gift baskets and wrapping presents, they also received help from Girl Scout Troop 4631, based in Forest Hills, to make the day special.
“We’re giving out assorted essentials that a new mom or parent would need,”said LIJ Forest Hills Program Manager of Government and Community Relations Stancy Saji, the event’s organizer. “This may be the first time some of these moms have ever had a baby shower and we’re so happy to be able to give them this experience.”
There were also educational segments available at the baby shower on prenatal health and breastfeeding. Additionally, LIJ Forest Hills Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology Orlando Santandreu, MD, was available to the parents for a Q&A session. He was able to answer the questions in both English and Spanish.
“Many of the women coming to our event today are underserved,” Dr. Santandreu said. “They have no resources and don’t know where to go to get them. Part of our mission is to reach women and improve their health care and that of their newborns.”
LIJ Forest Hills has held a “baby-friendly” designation since 2017. This internationally recognized award highlights the hospital’s dedication to improving the breastfeeding rates while also encouraging bonding between the mothers and their infants.
According to LIJ Forest Hills, studies have shown that breastfeeding can provide a variety of health benefits for both the mother and baby. From this, babies are less likely to suffer illnesses, including stomach, chest and ear infections, asthma, diabetes and obesity. Mothers are more likely to have a lower risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer and osteoporosis in later life.