The first baby shower I was invited to was maybe six or seven years ago and it was a new event for me. There was music and dancing and people of both sexes and buffet food and the poor old almost-Mum to be sat in the middle looking very Full of Baby and tired. Because this was my first, I made the terrible faux-pas of not bringing a gift – nobody told me that was the protocol – and I ended up feeling almost as uncomfortable as the pregnant lady (though, I could move about a whole lot easier).
All of a sudden – it seems – there are whole businesses created around the baby shower business and it’s becoming a lot more popular. It has come from America, where – I am told by my sister, formerly of New York – the sky is the limit on these bashes, with venues hired and expensive elaborate gift lists comparable to certain John Lewis wedding gift lists that I have uneasily scanned for the low-cost-but-not-cheapest-on-the-list option to suit my tiny budget.
The party is usually thrown by a friend not a family member (so that it doesn’t appear to be a gift-begging exercise, and so that the pregnant lady doesn’t have to clean up the mess) and will usually include a gift bag for guests, a buffet, baby-themed games (terrible for broody females) and a chance to shower the expectant mum with presents.
Globally, there is a tradition for a women-only get together sometime in late pregnancy and I like the Hindu traditions including flowers and oils being massaged into the mum to be and wisdom about motherhood being shared between the females.
In England, the tradition has been to give gifts after the birth, and I was happy with that myself, when I was a new Mum. It was lovely to celebrate the new person in my life and even though I was dazed and confused, it was also kind to receive gifts that reminded me to pamper myself as well. So, is the custom now to give two lots of gifts?
In this poverty-stricken and vastly unequal society where many of us are struggling to heat our homes, is it fair to ask us for wedding, pre-birth, after-birth – repeat for subsequent children – and birthday presents too? Or am I a grump?
I love the idea of a girly get-together, I think that is a good tradition to uphold, but I’m a believer in post-birth celebration, where the sex of the baby is known and Mum is feeling a bit more comfortable. Having said that, pregnancy can be a pretty miserable time and it must be nice to be made to feel special at a time when your body is not quite all your own.
What do you think? Stick with the baby shower? Have a post-birth baby shower? Shower for subsequent children? Or create a new unique feminine event or naming day with flowers and advice and nice smelling stuff? Or, are baby showers -and I quote a former inhabitant of the USA -“an US tradition they can keep!!”
Written by our regular contributor Catherine.
All views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Room To Grow.