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!

 

Blooming Gift Guide for Mamas & Mamas-to-Be

Ah, the art of gift giving. So often, this crafty endeavor is one of those things that either comes naturally to you or is a small form of torture. Which is it? Are you the person who has made multiple Pinterest-worthy DIY creations for your loved ones over the years, or do you rest more comfortably in the category of people who bemoan any special occasion that comes up too quickly on your calendar?

No matter where you fall on the above spectrum, there is an inherent pressure to pick the perfect item for that special someone. Even the best of us gifters feel the strain at times, which makes a trusty gift guide all the more appreciated when needed.

Babies in Bloom is in the business of supporting families from pregnancy to birth and beyond, and we’re pretty sure that from the time of conception to forever, you and your family will have plenty of gifts to give. Don’t you worry – support is here! Our one-of-a-kind curated Blooming Gift Guides are tailored to meet the specific gift-giving needs of our community.

Read on for our first guide dedicated to Mamas & Mamas-to-Be. Whether you’re invited to a baby shower for a dear friend or want to send a special present to a woman in your life about to give birth, this gift guide will help remind this new mom that caring for, honoring, and celebrating herself is just as important – if not more so – than the adorable baby that is about to arrive.

You’re sure to score some bonus points for thinking outside the box with these thoughtful gifts! Not sure where to grab these awesome items? Never fear, most are available at our Babies in Bloom boutique (in-store or online).

Babies-in-Bloom Presents:

Blooming Gift Guide for Mamas & Mamas-to-Be

 

  • A Rest & Relaxation

 

Easy Naps and Calm Nights Tea – $17.95

Every family needs this tea in the pantry! A soothing and relaxing blend that encourages calmness and entices sleep. Perfect to sip after a bath on one of those restless preggie nights. It also makes our favorite drink for overstimulated toddlers, mix one cup of hot tea and a teaspoon full of raw local honey to a cup of cold organic whole milk for a lukewarm calming treat.

A Little Something for Mama to Be – $24.95

Pregnancy brings it all on, so here’s special gift that says “I get it. This will help.” 6 piece set includes travel sized deodorant, body wash, belly butter and oil, and lip balm in a sweet reusable non-toxic, PVC-free plastic zipper pouch.

Fox Box Pre-Curated Gift Box – $32.00 and up

Fox Box is a LA based company started by three women wanting to create beautiful gift boxes as a way to create stronger relationships. With an assortment of gift boxes available, Fox Box is sure to have the perfect curated gift for the one lucky mom you’re shopping for. Take the Beauty Box that retails for $100 and includes a Bkr water bottle, Tony Moly sheet masks, a gorgeous BOXFOX rose quartz facial roller, a woven french market tote and rose facial mist.

  • Preferred Reading

Nurture – A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood — and Trusting Yourself and Your Body – $18.95

Nurture is the only all-in-one pregnancy and birthing book for modern mothers-to-be and their partners who want a more integrative approach. Author Erica Chidi Cohen has assisted countless births and helped hundreds of families ease into their new roles through her work as a doula. This beautiful, comprehensive and judgement-free pregnancy companion covers everything from the beginning months of pregnancy to the baby’s first weeks. Including supportive self-care and mindfulness exercises, trimester-specific holistic remedies, nourishing foods and recipes for every month of pregnancy along with more than 40 charming and helpful illustrations, and expert tips for every birth environment, itƒ??s got everything modern mother would want to know: fetal development, making choices for a hospital, home or birth center birth, the basics of breastfeeding, tips on what to expect postpartum and more.

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven, Marisa Belger – $22.46
The first 40 days after the birth of a child offer an essential and fleeting period of rest and recovery for the new mother. Based on author Heng Ou’s own postpartum experience with zuo yuezi, a set period of “confinement,” in which a woman remains at home focusing on healing and bonding with her baby, The First Forty Days revives the lost art of caring for the mother after birth. The book includes 60 simple recipes for healing soups; replenishing meals and snacks; and calming and lactation-boosting teas, all formulated to support the unique needs of the new mother. In addition to the recipes, this warm and encouraging guide offers advice on arranging a system of help during the post­partum period, navigating relationship challenges, and honoring the significance of pregnancy and birth.

  • Mom Armor

Solly Wrap – $64.95

Lightweight, easy to put on, Solly Baby wraps give you and your little one unparalleled closeness and comfort, less crying (it’s proven!), and reduced rates of postpartum depression.                                        

Pregnant Belly Salve – $17.95

This salve effectively prevents stretch marks and relieves the itch of stretching skin. Wonderful for regular moisturizing in the mornings, evenings or anytime!

Organic Herbal Sitz Bath – $5.99

Take care down there with natural herbal compresses filled with organic herbs traditionally used to soothe and comfort down there during pregnancy or after childbirth. Packed in easy-to-use, individual herbal sachets, each one is perfect for one use.

Original Belly Bandit – $49.95

The Original Belly Bandit Belly Wrap features an uncovered, latex-free design with medical grade elastic to help slim and support your belly, waist and hips post-pregnancy.

  • Trinkets & Treasures

Vintage Pearl Custom Products – $35 and up

Our custom jewelry is hand-stamped with your names, dates or meaningful

phrases, making them a special keepsake. Our desire is to design and create beautiful handmade pieces and personalized jewelry that will connect with your heart and soul. You will love to give our pieces as gifts, we have the perfect piece for everyone.

Ju-Ju-Be BFF – SALE $108.00

This bag will be your BFF. It has tons of pockets and organization…so much you won’t know what to do with it all. The BFF comes with detachable shoulder straps and messenger straps.

Rotunda Bag – $84.95

Our sophisticated Rotunda diaper bag brings you an elegant combination of style and thoughtful function while you’re out and about with your little one. It’s a classic piece you can flaunt even after you’re done changing diapers.

 

  • Breastfeeding Gifts

 

Nursing Pillow – $43.95

The My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow was developed in a laboratory of new moms, babies, and breastfeeding experts who set out to create a nursing pillow whose sole purpose was to answer all the needs of nursing moms and babies. 50 prototypes and a global patent later, the nursing pillow is loaded with features moms love.

Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra – $38.95

The Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra gives moms the valuable gift of time by freeing up their hands for other tasks or allowing them to simply relax while using their breast pump. The patented design is adjustable in size, using high quality Velcro, to sustain a perfect fit over time as a nursing mother’s size changes. Straps and 1” Center Panel included to help achieve the perfect fit!

Adjustable Nursing Stool – $33.95

My Brest Friend’s nursing stool can help a breastfeeding mother minimize lower back, shoulder, neck, and wrist pain by helping her to maintain a supportive, comfortable position while nursing.

Viral Photo: Paper Plate

Birth has gone viral! In the past year, videos and photos about the realities of birth and life postpartum have dominated social media and headlines. Earlier this year, we shared with you the viral video on contractions! Today, we’re passing along another viral moment – this time it’s a photograph of a paper plate used to illustrate the physical “wound” inside a woman’s uterus following the delivery of the placenta.

By now you may have already seen it, but if you haven’t here’s the low down. Back in March, a mom and birth advocate, Laura Fry, posted a photo of a paper plate with a measuring tape across it on her Facebook page Labor of Love. The measuring tape in the picture shows that the plate is approximately 8.5 inches across, which happens to be also be the average diameter of a placenta. Fry’s caption explains the significance in full:

As with most things related to pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, there are many different opinions out there regarding what is best for women, and the fact that all it took was one photograph of a paper plate to garner so much attention is a great thing.

Various outlets have used this photograph to advocate for longer maternity leave. On a more simple scale, however, it really just serves as a reminder to take it easy, while opening up the debate about what “take it easy” really means.

Following the initial post, it appears that Fry had to add multiple edits and addendums to clarify her comments, but the intent and overall purpose of the post shouldn’t get lost in the muddle: moms need time to recover after childbirth.

It seems so commonplace to say. Of course, women need to recover. Of course, there are physical changes to the body after childbirth.

But maybe Fry was tapping into something that we also know: moms can so easily fall into the habit of focusing on everyone else before themselves. Being a new mom is no different. Plus, if you factor in all the outside pressures and the perfection social media users often portray, it can be very difficult to hold back, take it easy, and lie low, when you want to show the world how great you feel.

There is no right or wrong here. All women are different. All bodies heal differently. This is true. But what is also true is that regardless of how you think you feel in the moment, your body is still healing. Sometimes, you just don’t realize it until you’ve maxed out and by then, you might be looking at a more arduous recovery from complications versus the natural progression of things.

If it feels good to go to the store a week after childbirth, by all means, do it. If going on a walk will help you feel more like yourself, no one is stopping you.

But also keep in mind that women don’t always have someone reminding them to take it easy either. Women don’t always have someone telling them its okay to stay in bed or stay at home for the first few weeks without judgment. When baby arrives, women may no longer be the focus of the attention, care and concern of others.

For these women, and for any woman, it is important to keep this in mind too. Advocate for yourself. Really consider what it is that is driving you to do more in those early weeks. Is it for you? Then by all means go at your own pace. If it is for others or outside pressure, give yourself some grace. Remember what you’ve put your body and mind through. Remember the paper plate.

We hear so often about savoring the precious time you have in the early days with your baby, but the message should also be: protect yourself, armor up, heal, strengthen, and sustain.

We’ve all heard about how important it is for couples to focus on the marriage instead of the wedding. The same should go for motherhood. We focus so much on the birth that we forget that after birth, and even after the early postpartum period, comes motherhood, which is a lifelong commitment and lifestyle change.

The early months and years of parenting are a rollercoaster that involve reduced sleep, a surge in increased responsibility, added worry and anxiety, and a steep learning curve. The reason we and women like Laura Fry encourage and advocate for rest and healing is not to add limitations or judgment on women after childbirth. Quite the opposite, its to ensure that women are able to continue living the lives they lived before and for years to come as they transition into motherhood. While you’re in the throws of those early days and weeks, it can be difficult to allow that time for grace and rest, but remind yourself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Remember the paper plate.

Why BabyFest is the Easiest Parenting Decision You’ll Have to Make

It takes a village to raise a child, so the proverb goes. If you have been a parent for more than a minute, you would probably agree.

Parenting is hard. It’s difficulty often lies in the constant decision making that goes along with the territory. By some estimates, the average adult makes some 35,000 decisions per day. Adulting while parenting must increase that amount tenfold. From the moment you get that first positive pregnancy test, you have to be ready to make decisions regarding everything from prenatal testing to birth plans.

When it comes to preparing for labor, do you go with Hypnobabies, the Bradley Method, or are the classes offered at the hospital sufficient?

Do you want a more natural birth experience? Do you choose a birth center, or home birth? Can you still give birth in a hospital and get a comparable experience?

Should you get a doula? What does a doula do anyways?

What about saving the placenta? Should you try encapsulation? Is it safe? Did you know there are other ways to consume the placenta?

What is your opinion about delayed clamping, skin-to-skin, antibiotic eye ointment, and circumcision?

Are you interested in cord banking?

Once the baby arrives and you’re on your own, will you go with disposables or cloth?

Cloth? Okay, will you use all-in-one’s, prefolds, or inserts?

Will you wear your baby? Sling, wrap or carrier?

What about your stroller? There are like 1,000 to choose from at Target alone. They surely must be different from one another and have their own special feature, right? Why do they all look the same?

Don’t even get us started on car seats.

What will you do if you experience trouble breastfeeding? Do you know how to contact a lactation specialist? If you need to supplement, will you use donor milk or formula?

Did you get your breast pump already? Did you know your insurance should cover it? Why do you even need a breast pump? When do you start pumping? Do you even NEED to pump?

Trying to breastfeed but can’t get comfortable? Let’s get a nursing pillow…but which one?

When your baby is ready for solids (Wait, when is baby really ready for solids?), do you go with purées or baby-led weaning?

When it comes to self-soothing tools, pacifier or not? What about a lovie? To swaddle or not to swaddle?

Time for sleep training? Will you Ferber or Sleep Lady Shuffle? Why is everyone saying NO to cry it out? Why is everyone ELSE telling you to do cry it out?

Overwhelmed yet? Do you even know what everything referenced above is? Even if you do, you aren’t out of the clear. The decisions don’t end there.

Our generation of parents is both blessed and cursed with the endless amount of choice there is out there. Yelp doesn’t always cut it, and how much time do you really have to read and sift through Amazon reviews before clicking your wallet away? Furthermore, by now, you probably are well aware that the combination of baby plus Internet is a rabbit hole you DO NOT want to go down.

Sure, part of parenting is trial and error, but what about that village we mentioned in the beginning? Aren’t the people in your village there to help save some of that wasted “trial and error” time? Can’t we learn from their mistakes?

What does your village look like? Does it include your parents, partner, closest friends, siblings, cousins, and other neighborhood moms? Sure, they and more of your extended family are all vital parts of that ecosystem.

But why not also your local birth center, lactation specialists, yoga instructors, midwives, baby-wearing specialists, car seat experts, sleep coach, doulas and more? Imagine how amazing and functional that village looks.

This is why Baby Fest descends upon Babies in Bloom each year. Whether you are a new parent, just learned you are expecting, have a second (third or fourth on the way), or are an extended family member looking for a way to help some soon-to-be parents find their footing, the opportunity to explore all things BABY in one location over a six-hour period cannot be beat. As an attendant, you also get the added peace of mind in knowing that every product, expert, and service there is vetted by the Babies in Bloom team, and has received their seal of approval.

Doctors go to medical conferences. Teachers go to professional development seminars. Why shouldn’t parents attend their own expo to get up to speed on the latest and greatest resources, merchandise and services for their families?

Still not convinced? We hear there will be food trucks, prizes, and Babies in Bloom will be donating proceeds from the event to a great cause.

Expand your village Saturday, April 14. For more info, visit: http://www.babies-in-bloom.com/babyfest/