Kristin Hodson, The Healing Group
Maybe I’m too practical. I never thought of myself as such, but as of late I’ve been relegated to the “paper goods” assignment for any baby shower I attend. My friends all seem to know that I prefer to provide the staple items and leave the frilly stuff to them — which they’re only too happy to do.
After picking up my bulk-offering of plates, plastic wear and cups, I take my gift to the growing pile and place it off to the side.
There it sits, like a forgotten pile of something someone forgot to put away before the shower began. No bows. No fancy wrapping.
Each present gets its moment in the spotlight to be “oohed” and “aahed” over before, at last, someone notices the odd leftover present and hesitates. This is when I speak up and say, “No, it’s not misplaced groceries, it’s actually my gift.” Curiosity is piqued and I get a chance to explain.
Statistics show that 1 out of 8 women will experience some kind of postpartum depression. Since I am a therapist specializing in pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders, each baby shower I attend fills me with hope, excitement and a little apprehension as I wonder if the woman opening the frilly, bow-laden gifts will be that “one.”
As a result, my gifts have significantly changed over the years as my education and experience increased in this area. And for me, it’s more satisfying and fun to buy my friends gifts that will truly “shower” them with support during the early, transitional months of a new baby.
Many new mommas don’t truly understand the level of support they will need and how challenging any kind of self-care can be during those first few months. Although I love to see all the cute little clothes, shoes and toys given at a baby shower, I’ve often thought about what my dream shower would look like — from the point of view of a therapist and as a mother of two who has experienced those challenging transitions as well.
Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of gifts I’d like to see at a shower. These gifts help new mothers — whether it’s their first baby or their fifth — to have a healthy postpartum recovery, as well as send the message that self-care is important and has to be made a priority. Wellness of the mother should not be an afterthought that comes after the house is straightened, the dishes done and the laundry folded. Her health is essential to her recovery and the well-being of the baby.
Bulk-sized paper plates, cups and plastic ware: Giving a mother six weeks’ worth of paper goods frees her and her partner from worrying about or spending unnecessary energy on doing the dishes. Not only the time spent doing the dishes, but the mental energy even thinking about having to do the dishes in the first place. Although initially it may be the least exciting gift in the pile, inevitably I get phone calls from my friends sharing their love for their disposables. (Diapers aren’t the only lovely disposables when it comes to parenting.)
Money toward a postpartum doula: Postpartum doulas are often underestimated in their significant postpartum support. Their role is to “mother the mother” and support the family in their transition. Postpartum doulas offer support by preparing healthy and balanced meals, breast-feeding education, holding your child while you shower, taking a night shift so you can get some sleep, helping with laundry, grocery shopping, picking up medications and more. They are there to help you so you can enjoy your baby.
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