In observation of World Prematurity Day and National Prematurity Awareness Month, the Northeast Texas Public Health-Marshall WIC office celebrated premature babies and their families on Wednesday with a reception as an expression of love.

“WIC helps you make amazing kids,” said Ann Dildy, site supervisor for the Marshall office. “It starts even from when they’re 30 weeks.

“And we really try to honor those moms because the road ahead sometimes is not always so easy,” continued Dildy. Sometimes their babies are in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit for a long time and we have such sweet, faithful moms that stay right there.”

Oftentimes mothers are challenged with even trying to breastfeed their tiny babies to ensure their nutrition.

“A lot of them even continue to try to breastfeed; and you know that’s got to be a super challenge to try to breastfeed a tiny baby,” said Dildy. “They pump breast milk, because ultimately that’s the very best thing they can do for that baby.

“So we just try to love on them and we try to love on those babies,” said Dildy. “And this is just our way of loving on them.”

Guests at Wednesday’s reception were greeted with smiling faces and bouquets of purple balloons, celebrating Premature Awareness Month, as they helped themselves to some sweet treats, educational literature and more.

“Sometimes family support is not always what it needs to be, and so we just want them to know we’re here and we are going to love them and support them; and we’re going to do whatever we can to help them get through these first few weeks,” said Dildy.

The Marshall WIC off is located at 310 E. Bowie St. According to March of Dimes, World Prematurity Day raises awareness of the global crisis of prematurity or preterm birth.

“Preterm birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in the United States and globally,” marchofdimes.org states.

Preterm is defined as babies, commonly called “preemies,” who are born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Each year, an estimated 15 million babies are born pre-term,” WHO explains, noting that equates to more than 1 in 10 babies. “This number is rising.”

March of Dimes encourages to spread awareness by:

  • Donating to support lifesaving research, advocacy and programs to improve the health of mom and babies.
  • Demanding #BlanketChange for policies that put moms and babies first.

Lighting it purple, including your office, lobby or the outside of your workplace or home. If you can wear it, make it purple, too.

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