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Celebrate The New Baby Features
 Gina Kruml, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Photo: Chayse Augustus courtesy Lena Ostroff

 

Do you remember the days when planning a baby shower meant one big question: “Games, or no games?” These days though, with the arrival of sprinkles, mother showers, mother blessings, and pregnancy parties, there is a wider variety of ways to celebrate the new baby. When planning a celebration for an expectant mother, or to celebrate the new baby’s arrival, if you want to think outside the box, rest assured plenty of possibilities abound!

Every child is special, and his or her arrival deserves celebration.

But what if the parents already have everything they need for the new baby? By calling the celebration a “sprinkle,” you can indicate that opening presents will not be the focus of the party. Or, if you’re throwing a “mother shower,” you could arrange a different way for people to help the new mother. Let guests know when they RSVP that instead of bringing a gift, they could bring a frozen meal, or check their calendars for a date when they could bring supper for the family. Marcia Claesson fondly remembers attending a baby shower where the hostess suggested everyone bring a favorite childhood book. The mother may even suggest a charity she would like to help in honor of the new baby. Of course, these choices should be presented as options, not demands. Some guests might still want to pitch in together to buy a big ticket from a baby registry, others may want to be practical by giving a gift card, and someone may be knitting something special for the baby.

Every child is special, and his or her arrival deserves celebration.

Games are still a popular choice at showers. I always liked the “Guess how many?” game. This is, of course, referring to the number of toilet paper squares it takes to go around the expectant mother’s belly. It’s the most fun if guests don’t know the secret, and guesses range from two to 132. Games might be a good option, for example, if it is a couples shower, but too many games can get in the way of spontaneous conversation. Too much time spent doing pencil and paper competitions and guessing how many jelly beans in the jar can make a party feel somewhat superficial. If the main purpose of games is to start conversation and make people feel welcome, surely a good hostess can do this on her own.

Rather than concentrating on games and opening presents, you may want to incorporate a more personal or spiritual aspect into the celebration. Be sure to talk with the mother ahead of time about what would be most meaningful, and in accordance with her beliefs. Prayer, songs, or planting a tree together in honor of the baby might all be special for her. A “mother blessing” might typically include more mother-centered activities, such as a belly casting, or painting with henna. The guests might work on making a quilt together, or each write a wish for the baby on a leaf to tie to a tree. Each guest might bring a bead to add to a necklace string for the mother to wear during the baby’s birth. The mother can also be encouraged during the birth by a plan to support her with a telephone tree and prayer chain when the big day arrives. Each guest can be given a candle at the party, to be lit when the phone call comes.

Cake by LLL Isle of Man, UK

Cake by LLL Isle of Man, UK

When planning a baby shower or similar celebration, a mother who will be breastfeeding might appreciate some celebration of this to be incorporated into the festivities. This can be as simple as bringing up breastfeeding as a topic of conversation. Just as many mothers will enjoy telling their birth stories at the party, many will also enjoy the chance to tell breastfeeding stories. If the expectant mother approves, you might want to make an appropriately shaped and decorated “breast cake” as part of the party food. Try to avoid decorations, party games and gift wrapping that include baby bottles and pacifiers. As useful as these items might be sometimes, it makes one wonder, where are all the baby decorations with baby bears, rabbits and kittens that are nursing?

As a guest, giving a gift of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding might the most helpful thing you can do for a new mother.

Whatever way you find to support, encourage, and celebrate the journey of a new mother,  know that you are making a positive contribution to her and the new baby. By including her preferences and beliefs, you can make the celebration more meaningful. You can also set the stage for the guests to continue to support her after she has the new baby, which especially in this day and age is desperately needed. Remember, you don’t have to go to great expense, or plan out every moment to make a happy memory for the new mother.


Resources

Maser, S. Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers—Celebrating Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood Moondance Pr. 2004

The Mother Blessing

Gina Kruml, RN, BSN, IBCLC is an LLL Leader and mother to Sophia, Ambrose, Maria, and Victor in Sierra Vista, AZ, USA.


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