Planning your Ultimate Baby Shower!Dec 28, 2022
Today we are helping you plan your ultimate baby shower! But spoiler alert, we offer no advice on picking balloons, what finger foods to serve, or the best party games. The concept of a baby shower has existed in some form for centuries, shifting in purpose and presentation over the years. Today, we encourage you to think of two main things when planning yours: what is your purpose for having one? And what is the ideal outcome?
Dr. Alicia and Dr. Pip Houghton, family doctor with a special interest in mental health and founder of Making Mama Well, discuss shower traditions past and present, share their own personal experiences, and truly hope this episode will help guide anyone listening, whether birthing or not, in creating a joyous and fruitful celebration of this momentous occasion!
Our research into the topic has found that the concept of a “baby shower” - or a celebration of the transition into motherhood - has existed in some form since the ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations. Some very early traditions suggest that new mothers were considered “unclean” after birth and were essentially quarantined away from society during that time. Once that period ended, there was a sort of ritualized celebration of the mother reentering society with her baby. In the middle ages, the baby shower took on a more religious focus in Christian societies, with baptism being the main event, and where mom was often not present potentially due to a similar concept of post-birthing quarantine or a forced period of rest. In the Victorian era, the event took on more of a modern, celebratory feel with gift giving, general celebration of sisterhood, and maternal passing of knowledge. In the mid-twentieth century, traditions that we often associate with the modern day baby shower began to take form, with gift giving, cheesy games - and exclusively female attendance.
What are the rules?
While the notion that women are unclean after birth is hopefully far behind us, it can be argued that a lot of the original intentions behind even the earliest traditions are still relevant today! We don’t encourage you to conform to any traditions you don’t desire or are uncomfortable with, but there is something truly beautiful and crucial in assembling your tribe at this time of great transition and change.
What this assembly looks like, who it comprises, and how it comes together, can vary greatly. Most of all we encourage you to customize it to your needs. This may involve a loved one planning it, in which case we encourage them to check-in with the birthing parent to ensure their expectations are met and boundaries are respected. It could involve gift giving - or not! It could be a large gathering, or small - restricted to the people you feel will be most valuable in this aspect of your life. You can consider creating more of a “nesting party,” bringing together friends and family to help you prepare your house for the baby - help clean the yard, paint the nursery, or prep-meals for that busy postpartum period! Today, gatherings can also take place virtually. And of course, for many of us who may not have a very long-established community around us for whatever reason, it is okay to ask someone to host one for you, or plan one for yourself.
The main things to keep in mind are what your purpose is for having one, and what is your ideal outcome? If this is your first baby and you are in need of baby items, then creating a gift registry is a great idea. If you are on your third and already swimming in things, consider asking for advice or asking your guests to share their favourite parenting tips or memories. But wait - where does dad fit in?
The Dadchelor Party!?
The baby shower can also be a great time to consider expectations around parenthood between partners. If you are aiming for an equal parenting partnership, including both partners in the ‘ritual’ welcoming of the baby and all the discussion around what that entails is essential. Other fathers can share their experiences and wisdom. Dad’s can also have their own single-sex “Dadchelor Party” celebrating entering fatherhood in a way that may be more aligned with their preferred bonding activities. Whatever that may look like for you, it’s a great opportunity to talk, share, and problem solve away from the birthing person, as fathers are also undergoing many changes at this time, and it can be a precarious time from a mental health standpoint. Approximately one in ten fathers suffer from postpartum depression as well, and this statistic is likely underrepresented because we do not currently have a good system for screening for it. Research has shown that fathers, perhaps even more so than moms, respond well to casual peer support, so this is another great consideration when crafting your ideal baby shower experience.
A baby shower is a wonderful opportunity for your community to come together and help set you up for success in this next, exciting phase of life. Whether with your partner, with co-workers, friends or family, near or far, take a moment to mindfully consider its purpose for you and work backward from there, to plan your ultimate baby shower.
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