VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) teamed up with numerous organizations Sept. 23 to offer gifts and support to women Veterans who are pregnant or have given birth in the past year.
Thirty-five Veterans who receive VA maternity care were handed diapers, blankets, clothing, books and other baby items during a VA ECHCS drive-thru baby shower near Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Aurora. Now in its seventh year, the annual event rotates between the Denver metro and Colorado Springs areas.
“Childbirth is a major medical event, and we are honored to support these Veterans through that milestone in their life,” said Amanda Martinez, assistant director for VA ECHCS Longs Peak region. Martinez, an Army Veteran, greeted women in the drive-thru line and asked if they knew the baby’s gender. She then helped volunteers load boys, girls, or gender-neutral gifts into the Veterans’ trunks.
As the Veterans’ cars crawled through the drive-thru line, volunteers decked out in honeybee costumes approached from both sides to offer congratulations, gifts and resources. The event provided an opportunity for mothers to speak to experts about whole health, lactation, pelvic floor physical therapy and postpartum mental health care. Several local organizations also offered women gifts, information and well wishes, and Aurora Fire Rescue provided 31 car seat checks and gave new car seats to two mothers in need.
An additional 25 Veterans who could not attend the event received free delivery of the gifts through a VA ECHCS partnership with Amazon. Catherine Solis, an Air Force Veteran who gave birth to her son Clayton in March, received her gifts Sept. 29. Solis was unable to attend Friday’s event due to work, but she was happy to receive the gifts.
“I actually didn’t know that VA offered [maternity care] until I told my primary care provider that I was pregnant, and she explained it all to me,” said Solis., “I thought it was awesome that they offer this care. I got a lactation kit with a lot of stuff with it, and the nurse called me periodically to check on me throughout the pregnancy.” For Solis, the baby shower gifts were icing on the cake.
Baby showers are one of the many ways that VA supports pregnant Veterans. VA ECHCS provides prenatal care up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. At 12 weeks, the Veteran is referred to community care through childbirth, then immediately after childbirth VA provides postpartum care.
Throughout a pregnancy, VA ECHCS maternity care coordinators work with Veterans to ensure that their care is going smoothly. The coordinator acts as a liaison for any VA services requested by a Veteran and provides the Veteran with a lactation kit. The VA maternity care coordinator also calls the expectant mother every two months to ensure she has appropriate mental health and social support while receiving prenatal care in the community. This enables early intervention during the entire pregnancy.
And, once a year, VA ECHCS celebrates and honors the new moms with a baby shower.
“The baby shower is a great event and we’re just so thankful for all the organizations who volunteer and give donations to make this a success,” said Eva Gergely, chief of community development and civic engagement at VA ECHCS. This year’s event was supported by Daughters of the American Revolution, American Legion Auxiliary, Soldiers’ Angels, American Red Cross, Colorado Elks Association, Volunteers of America, Firehouse Quilts, Aurora Public Library, Thrivant, Marine Corps League Auxiliary, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Mile High Veterans Auxiliary, Aurora Fire Rescue, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Amazon.
For more information about maternity care and women’s health care, visit VA.gov/eastern-colorado-health-care/health-services.