6 Baby Shower Alternatives for the Mom-To-Be

Baby showers are such a tradition in our society that its almost taboo to suggest doing anything but. That doesn’t mean that deep down there aren’t a lot of women out there who might find the virgin drinks, cheesy games, gift opening, and all the belly cupping a particularly painful way to spend the last days of their third trimester.

So, for the sake of open mindedness, read on and consider these Baby Shower Alternatives for a gal friend with alternative taste.

  1. Postpartum Party

After giving birth, so much of the attention suddenly shifts from the pregnant woman to the newborn child. Even the new mother’s attention drastically shifts. A big risk factor to postpartum depression and anxiety is the lack of a support system, which makes finding ways to let her know you are there for her all the more important. Hosting a Postpartum Party in her honor is the perfect way to show a new mama that you and the rest of her community are there for her through this big life change.

The beauty of a Postpartum Party is that no real rules apply except this: Mom is front and center. In planning the party, think of the honoree. What is her idea of a perfect gathering? Is it relaxing at a spa with her closest girlfriends? Does she like small get-togethers such as a potluck-style BBQ with friends and family and lawn games? Might she miss getting dressed up and going downtown to a hip restaurant for food, drinks, and lots of selfies? The purpose is to remind this new mom that even though a lot in her life has changed, and she too may have changed in rapid time, someday soon, she will feel herself again.

In the first few weeks after baby has arrived, listen to what your loved one is talking about. Take note of what she seems to be missing, and find a way to give that to her, even if just for one day. The other important decision about a Postpartum Party is when it should happen. Again, this is so contingent on the individual woman. Some women might be itching to do ANYTHING only a couple weeks after the baby is born. Others might not feel up to it until six to eight weeks out. Listen to her needs, but also know how to differentiate between a woman who is still healing, and a woman who may need a nudge to do some self-care for a change. If you’re planning this party, already you’re showing that you care a great deal for this person, now time to make it happen.

Best part about waiting ‘til after the baby is born to celebrate your loved one’s foray into motherhood? She can have a glass or two of her favorite alcoholic beverage to celebrate the occasion. While that may require a bit of planning and prep work if she’s breastfeeding, she’s earned it.

2. Baby-ette Party

By now, we all probably are familiar with the concept of a babymoon, the honeymoon-like vacation a couple takes before the baby arrives. It’s an opportunity to connect with your family of two before it becomes a family of three (or more). We are definitely not suggesting sacrificing the Babymoon for a Baby-ette Party, just reminding you that maybe you should also connect with your closest friends before your attention and priorities suddenly change with the arrival of your child.

Naturally, as a pregnant woman, this venture will look a lot different than your typical bachelorette party, but the concept is the same. Steal some of the cheesiness and outlandish fun and channel it into a preggo-safe outing. A Baby-ette Party should get this mom-to-be out and about, push her a little outside her comfort zone (but not too far – remember there are pregnancy hormones to consider) and offer her a last hurrah before becoming a mom. It may be a while before she can party this way again especially with the same group of women, so live it up and make this a tradition within your circle of friends for each of you.

3. Sleep-a-thon

According to a recent study, new parents lose 44 days of sleep during the first year of a baby’s life. Only after you’ve become a parent do you truly know the precious value of good quality sleep.  Many women in their third trimester, and some even before, struggle with sleep before the baby’s even arrived.

Resting and logging zzz’s is so so important leading up to the birth, but so often, pregnant women feel competing pressure and stress to get everything ready in time. Add in other children and work obligations, and often sleep takes a backburner on the list of priorities.

This is where a Sleep-a-thon is just what the midwife ordered. Depending on your special mom-to-be’s circumstances, the objective is to rid her of distractions, help clear off some things on her plate and give her a day or weekend’s worth of time to rest, relax, and ultimately sleep as much as possible. Sure, a day or two doesn’t really sound like much compared to the 44 days this new mom is about to lose, but it’s definitely more than she would get otherwise, and is the perfect way to show her you care.

You can treat her to a night’s stay at a local resort or hotel alone or with her partner in tow. While she’s away, you can help watch the other kids, clean the house, set up the nursery, or do laundry with the help of other friends and family. The tasks won’t seem as daunting if there’s a small group to split responsibilities around.

If your mom-to-be is more of a homebody and sleeps best in the comfort of her own home, find out what errands she still needs to get done and help with those. Take the kids out for a day at the zoo or your house for some fun activities and a movie night. Think though all the possible things that might interfere with your pregnant gal’s ability to relax and let her transfer the mental load to you.

4. Meal Train

Maybe you have already heard about Meal Train, a website that helps simplify the organization of meal giving after a significant life event. Meal Train was actually created after the co-founder’s wife organized meal deliveries to a family in their neighborhood after they had welcomed a new baby.

Meal planning, prep and execution is such a daunting task for new parents. Even the idea of ordering out or delivery can be stressful and costly with so much else to worry about. Meal Train helps any new parents’ village of support come together and help get them fed!

Since we’re talking about possibly replacing the concept of a Baby Shower with an alternative, this is where you send out invites, make calls, get connected with friends, family, co-workers, and other loved ones of the parents-to-be. Ask them to commit to at least one meal. They can either cook a meal, pick up take out, or schedule the delivery – depending on their cooking abilities and proximity to the family. Ultimately, though, the idea is to alleviate some stress and ensure both parents are getting enough to eat.

Planning a Meal Train involves some inquiries with the expectant family. Ask them what days they may need meals the most, find out food preferences, favorite meals, dislikes, allergies, dietary preferences. It won’t be helpful to them if the food delivered is something they can’t or won’t enjoy.

Lastly, if you’ve taken the role of organizer in this endeavor, follow through by sending a thank you once someone delivers their planned meal. While the new parents are going to be so grateful for the help, they may not have time to send out a thank you card right away or at all, so taking that worry off their hands will be icing on the cake.

5. 100 Days Celebration

Traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures believe strongly that the first 100 days of a baby’s life is when the baby and new mother are most vulnerable, and they are expected to stay inside to avoid illness and injury. Additionally, in the past, it was rare for a baby to survive the first 100 days so, when they did, it was worthy of celebration. For this reason, it was important to wait to celebrate until after the baby arrived, and today, its still considered unlucky to throw a shower for an unborn baby. The 100th day marks the third month postpartum, or the baby’s fourth trimester, meaning the baby is now a full year old.

Each country has its own variation of the concept. Koreans call the celebration, Baek-il, and in Japan, it is called Okuizome, or baby’s first eating ceremony. The Chinese have a Red Egg and Ginger Party to celebrate the baby’s first 30 days in addition to another ceremony for the 100th day.

If you choose to host a 100 Days Celebration for someone special, you can select a tradition or two to honor its history, such as cutting the baby’s hair (just a lock) to commemorate the child’s independent existence or have the oldest person in attendance ‘feed’ the baby to symbolize longevity. You can serve red eggs and ginger or dress the baby in red to symbolize good fortune.

Ultimately, the special wow-factor to this party will be the added joy in celebrating the baby earthside instead of in utero. You’re also able to congratulate the new parents publicly for making it past what most consider the toughest stage of parenting. Doesn’t that sound worthy of a party?

6. Blessingway Ceremony

A blessingway ceremony is an old Navajo tradition meant to cultivate positive and bless the pregnancy. Blessingways are still celebrated in modern time, and are becoming a popular baby shower alternative.

There’s a reason this practice is gaining popularity — the ceremony is meant to help prepare a woman with the transition to motherhood versus the typical focus on gifts for the baby. With so much more information out there about ways to prevent postpartum depression and anxiety, women are looking for ways to help this important life change happen with intention. This is an especially great option for the mama-to-be who is artistically expressive, sentimental, or in need of some healing before giving birth.  

A blessingway is typically on the more intimate side, with only close friends and family in attendance. The pregnant mama usually wears a crown of flowers and a common activity is to have the baby bump decorated in henna or body art. The mother-to-be is often pampered with a foot soak and massage, sometimes administered by the attendees. The intimate setting also allows for some time to connect and share blessings, stories, advice, or inspirational words.

Arts and crafts are common at blessingways via stone painting to provide encouraging words for the mother that she can place around her home, and bringing gifts that mom can use to make a birth altar. A bead ceremony is also common and requires each attendee to bring a special bead that will get made into a necklace for the mother to wear during the last few weeks of pregnancy and during birth!

After reading this, you might just be motivated to find a way to do a little bit of all six of these options for that special expectant mom in your life! There are no rules against having a Blessingway-100-Day-Meal-Train-Sleepy-ette-Postpartum-Baby-Shower-Celebration, is there? We think not. Happy planning!

 

The ACNM Benchmarking Project Results – Babies in Bloom Best Practice

Each year, the American College of Nurse Midwives allows participating practices to compare themselves to practices that are similar in size and environment to provide a professional self-maintenance strategy and as a method of quality assurance. Babies in Bloom is pleased to be designated a Best Practice in both the Four Core Perinatal Measures and the Triple Aim Achievement categories by the ACNM.

Best Practices – Four Core Perinatal Measures

  • Induction of Labor <10%
  • Primary Cesarean Birth Rate < 15%
  • Episiotomy < 2%
  • Exclusive Breastfeeding (first 48 hours) > 75%

The “4 Core” Best Practice designation has been designed to acknowledge practices achieving nationally established benchmarks for physiologic birth. These four measures are harmonized with the National Quality Forum (NQF) and Joint Commission perinatal quality measures. Of the 278 practices participating in the 2016 ACNM Benchmarking project, 23 practices achieved all four benchmarks.

Best Practices – Triple Aim Achievement

  • Primary Cesarean Birth Rate < 23.9%
  • Preterm Birth Rate < 11.4%
  • Exclusive Breastfeeding (first 48 hours) > 81%

“Triple Aim” Best Practice recognizes practices which meet the Institute for Healthcare Improvement “Triple Aim” of improving the patient experience, reducing cost of care, and improving the health of populations. This is demonstrated by high breastfeeding rates, low preterm birth and cesarean rates, and reporting fiscal variables. Of the 278 practices participating in the 2016 ACNM Benchmarking Project, ninety-one practices were designated Triple Aim Best Practices.

International Day of the Midwife

May 5th is the internationally recognized day for highlighting the work of midwives. To celebrate the “International Day of the Midwife,” we gathered photos and thoughts from several of our birth center clients. One thing is clear, families seem to love their care providers as much as midwives love their families. Enjoy!

 

Babies in Bloom Birth Story: The Birth Of Our Sonshine

A birth story graciously shared from one of our birth center families…

On Saturday evening, I was sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for dinner to finis cooking, crying my eyes out and texting my midwife because I had decided our Sunny changed his mind and would never be born, that I would be like that South American woman who was pregnant for 20 years (calcified pregnancy). It has always been my mantra that baby will be born at the perfect time for him but those last few days of pregnancy as many already know are so physically and mentally exhausting. I was SO done!

Sunday morning, we all awoke before the sun per usual thanks to my two lively Wild Flowers. I didn’t have much of an appetite and felt completely restless! I had a lower backache so I decided to soak in the bath for a while and hey since I was already there I might as well wash my mane, too. I noticed I was having very irregular contractions but I had been having those for about two weeks so I ignored them. We decided today was a great day to clean out the garage and spent all morning organizing and sweeping. At nap time we all laid down to rest, I had sort of been in a strange fog all morning and was sure I was just really tired. I couldn’t sleep. I noticed I was having more and more contractions, more than I had had in the last few weeks. I wanted to get excited but I felt nervous instead and then decided I’d just be in denial. Jason had been watching me like a hawk all day and I kept telling him to “stop being a freak” but he could see all of the things that I couldn’t (he’s basically a birth and breastfeeding professional at this point). And even though it was football Sunday with his favorite team playing, he made the beautiful suggestion of going to get milkshakes at my favorite place, all hail In-N-Out Burger. It’s been a little family tradition of ours that when I’m in labor we go eat at In-N-Out and then magically a baby appears a couple of hours later! But it didn’t matter because I wasn’t really in labor. By the time we got back home though I was having to shift my focus on breathing through my contractions so I suggested IF this was the real deal maybe we should take a walk around the neighborhood. We strapped our hyperactive sugar crazy Wild Things into our snazzy double stroller and started walking. We didn’t make it far, maybe an eighth of a mile, so I had another great idea! Lets go back home and cook dinner. I was slicing chicken and preheating the oven so J lovingly brought a fan down to help cool the kitchen (me) down. Then the swaying started. With each contraction I was having to move with them, in my mind it was like the movement was breaking through the wall of pain. By this time I was trying (failing) to cook dinner in order to shift my focus away from my labor, my shirt was off, I was in my favorite skirt, and swaying with a piece of raw chicken and a knife in my hands in front of a fan. But it was fine because I wasn’t in labor. Jason wanted me to text our midwives but I didn’t want to. So…he did. And our friends to watch the girls if needed, and our birth photographer. That guy had it all together!

After dinner was finished baking, which no one ate because apparently it was the worst dinner I have ever made so the girls at PB&J’s instead, I was hanging out on my birthing ball in the living room. Painter arrived at my knees and climbed into my lap and hugged me while we rode the waves of a few more contractions together. The love and power I felt in those moments really energized me. I’ll cherish that memory forever.

With my new burst of energy I had my best idea yet, My hair was still pretty damp and in a messy bun from my bath earlier in the day. Obviously this was the prime time to blow dry it! I carried my birthing ball upstairs and busted out my blow dryer which I haven’t used in four years and went to town. Shifting my focus away from my contractions while swaying on my ball and blow drying my hair. I wish I had a picture of that, really.

Jason got the girls into the bathtub. With my hair dry and the way I wanted it, I moved into our bed. I could hear the girls giggling in the bath tub and wished I could be in there with them too. I love them so much. Which reminded me of my favorite birthing story from Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. In the story the mother thought about all of the people she loved and appreciated while she was working through each contraction. I really loved that idea and decided that was a great thing to try out. Labor was getting challenging and I was very tired. With my next contraction I was rocking from side to side with my eyes closed really focusing, “I love my family. My children and my husband. My marriage. I am so grateful to be able to give this gift to my baby. I am so happy to meet my son soon. I am so grateful for my midwives and their support.” I repeated these over and over in my mind until my contractions would subside.

The girls came in to kiss me goodnight, Vaughn looked at me and said “You can do it mom, I love you!”.

I love them, I love them, I love them.

Labor was getting more intense and I was starting to feel nervous again. Jason arrived at the perfect moment. I moved over to my birthing ball and held onto the bed while I swayed through the energy of those contractions. Jason was reading my birthing affirmations, timing my contractions, texting my midwives, and bringing me a lot of peace. This guy. The perfect Dude-la.

At some point our friends arrived and were watching TV downstairs which was reassuring because the girls could stay asleep in their own beds. So grateful to not have to worry about them.

Here is the realness. Birth is hard. Labor is hard. As I find out each time I give birth, you do not have to be a Super Woman with super powers. You are able and capable as a Wombman. There is a strength within each of us that we can not channel until we are right there in the thick of it. It’s a power that is thousands of years old that lives within us and it is pure magic.

In between contractions I was very aware and lucid, Jason and I were chatting. “I can do this right?” I kept asking him. I had read a quote that I loved once, it went something like..your contractions aren’t stronger than you because they ARE you. I was thinking about this through my next contraction. My focus shifted then to “I can do this”. I repeated that to myself in my mind and out loud for the next several minutes. Jason said to me, “Lashel says we can go to the birthing center whenever we’re ready.”

I waited for another five minutes and then I realized that IF she did really say that…then I must really be in labor….AND  I  must be fairly close to birthing him….if she said that.

“Okay.”

Jason grabbed our bags and hustled down to the car and came back upstairs to get my ball and help me down the stairs. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I see our friends hanging out on the couch (I’m so tired I really wished I was doing that too) and I give them a thumbs up. We made a pit stop by the front door so I could work through another contraction and then slowly got outside and into the car. With my eyes closed I kept trying to keep my body relaxed. I started to feel discouraged because all of the sudden my contractions which were pretty intense then became managable. And then we were there! The birth assistant arrived shortly after we did and unlocked the doors for us, as I was getting out of the car one of our midwives arrived and walked in with us, I looked at her..”I am so glad to see you.” And I was.

We walked into birth room number Two. It was dark and quiet, it was perfect. Safe.

I put my hands on the bed to ride through another contraction and

POP

my water broke. And then I felt something strange but familiar and totally out of my control. He was coming and my body was pushing him out.

“I can do this, I can do this, I can do this”.

I climbed onto the bed and stayed on all fours, I couldn’t imagine being in any other position (which is interesting because I have said before I have no idea how women birth this way and I could never see myself doing that..but I was).

“I can do this, I can do this, I can do this”

“You ARE doing this!” my midwife said. Was I really?

“This is really hard.”

It was really, really hard.

Jason was kneeling on the other side of the bed, our faces smashed together. That was the only  way I was able to get through the most intense moments of my entire life. It was easily the most challenging few minutes of my life, even having given birth before, every birth is different.

In between these massive waves that were helping me get closer to meeting my son, I had a thought and said to Jason “I CAN NOT BELIEVE OUR BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER IS MISSING THIS! WE PAID SO MUCH MONEY!”

Our wonderful midwife was coaching me through each contraction, I loved her so much and was so grateful for her especially in those moments, I needed her voice. “He has blonde hair!!”.. oh my god, I have another blonde baby. Hearing those few words filled me with love and happiness and the final burst of energy I needed to welcome our sweet boy into this world.

Then our birth photographer arrived. Oh my god, she arrived!

“I can see his face!”

And then the whole energy of the room shifted. I could physically feel the power in the air. The love and strength of every woman who has ever been. Leaning on my rock for strength feeling the intense energy vibrating through the air and my heart that felt like it was literally bursting with love, I roared my son into existence.

I could not believe it. I looked around at each women in that room, looked at my husband, looked at my new son.

My heart had burst wide open, shattered into a million pieces in this moment and I was born again too. I have never known Love until now and I am sure every single person felt it too.  It was electric.

“Peace on Earth begins at Birth”

Today our Sunny is one week new and I still am in disbelief over what we all experienced but what I can tell you, the love I have inside of me it’s life changing.