ANTIOCH -- The philosophy behind Contra Costa County's second annual Community Baby Shower for African-American pregnant women and their partners is that it takes an entire community to raise a healthy child.

And, not only are the expecting couples invited to the regional event on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Antioch, but the whole family is welcomed to attend from siblings of the baby to grandparents. Sponsors are the California WIC, Kaiser Permanente, Contra Costa Health Services and the Los Medanos Community Health District, and the organizer is A More Excellent Way Health Program.

"We are trying to funnel resources to this group," Monique Sims-Harper, executive director of A More Excellent Way, said. "We want to educate the entire family."

For instance, a Grandma's Tea area at the event is designed to reach out to future grandmothers. They will also receive information on how to care for their grandchildren and books to promote literacy for all family members.

"Most women learn to parent from their own mothers," Sims-Harper said.

The Community Baby Shower is geared toward pregnant African-American women because birth outcomes in this demographic are often poorer than other races, according to Sims-Harper. So far, 130 women have registered for the event; 300 attended it last year.

"In our community, every baby is going to have the same celebration of life," Sims-Harper said. "Our goal is to eliminate the perinatal inequities in the African-American community."


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Siblings will learn about how the baby is growing inside their mom's body, what's inside a diaper bag and infant safety during interactive children's workshops. They will also create a personalized book for their future brother or sister.

Dads will get to connect with other local fathers to discuss discipline techniques and how to support their partner through the birth and recovery period.

"In our county, there is not a lot of support for dads," Sims-Harper said. "We want to celebrate fatherhood."

In addition to handing out health information, traditional shower gifts and prizes, a local nonprofit organization called White Pony Express will provide food, clothing and toys to the families present.

Sims-Harper noted that the core messages of the event are to attend all prenatal appointments, try to avoid C-section births, read to your new baby often and breast-feed for the health benefits to both mom and child.

African-American lactation consultant Brandi Gates said that the teen moms who attend the event are encouraged to still pursue their goals and dreams and not allow family members to raise their child.

"This is just a minor setback," said Gates of teen pregnancy. "They can take ownership of their babies."

Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.

If You Go
All African-American pregnant women and their partners are invited to attend Contra Costa County's Community Baby Shower from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Antioch's Grace Bible Fellowship, 3415 Oakley Road. The event is free and will include food, education and prizes. To register, call 925-646-5200 or check out http://cccmewbabyshower.eventbrite.com.