In the June/July edition of BUST Magazine was a very important article by Marisa Mendez Marthaller titled “Skip the Baby Shower and Throw a Postpartum Party Instead.”
The title is eye-catching…..and I wanted to blog about this when I first saw the article appear on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, but things have been hectic. I will be blogging about 2-3 times in the next few days to catch up with the blog posts I’ve been planning, now that I’m on a much-needed stay-cation.
It’s eye-catching because it’s such a custom to throw baby showers before the birth of a baby. It’s as expected as, if not more expected than, a bridal shower is before a wedding. People go through great lengths to plan surprise baby showers, just as they do bridal showers. People gather at these showers to shower gifts upon the mother-to-be–er, actually, the baby-to-be–and the bride-to-be, respectively. It’s physical gifts that people buy to try to alleviate some of the buying responsibility from the parent(s)-to-be. Bottom line, we are just proving to be as consumer-oriented as always because, after all, we live in a materialistic and consumer-driven society. My book goes in detail about the importance of mothering the new mother (“it takes a village”) and trend away from social support. Please see my past posts about the importance of mothering the mother and how it takes a village to minimize the occurrence of PPD here and here.
While we maintain this consumer-centric, materialistic society in which people are picking up their roots and moving away from family and friends for the sake of career aspirations, it is harder for the village to come together and help the new mother make the transition to motherhood. All too often, the new mother finds herself struggling to care for her new baby. A new mother who’s just given birth has very little energy to come up with a social support network. This is why it is so important to come up with a postpartum plan BEFORE the baby arrives. Either the mother-to-be or a loved one can help with planning the kind of postpartum party described in the article.
Like I state in my book:
Aside from the baby shower, which only celebrates an upcoming birth by way of gifts to help prepare for the baby’s arrival, there are no rituals that welcome women into motherhood.
A truly useful baby shower gift after the baby’s arrival is having relatives, friends, neighbors, etc. chip in funds for hired help [like a postpartum doula] for the first one to two months.
Additionally, as this article suggests, the shower that is thrown should entail a list of family/friends who will help (with watching the baby so the new mom can get some much-needed alone time/rest/shower, picking up groceries, cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc.) during the first 6 weeks postpartum. This could include a meal plan via http://www.mealtrain.com deliveries or doing take-out and dropping the food off.
Perhaps if we focused more on ensuring new mothers have the support they need after the new baby arrives, there would be fewer instances of postpartum mood disorders!