You’ve been working hard growing that little human, mama...you deserve a celebration worthy of the effort!
Here are a few ways to celebrate this momentous time in your life, whether you’re in charge of hosting or want to give your bestie a little party-planning inspo!
If a traditional baby shower isn’t for you, you might consider a mother blessing.
A mother blessing celebrates the pregnant mama and isn’t as “baby-centric” as a shower (read: no diaper-sniffing games or birthday guesses). Inspired by an ancient Navajo ceremony called a blessingway, mother blessings are meant to encourage and support an expectant mother for her upcoming birth journey and are a lovely way to honor this major rite of passage.
Plan to have the gathering around week 36 or 37 of mama’s pregnancy so it’s close to the birth, and keep the guest list to closest friends and family. Make the decor calming and intimate...candles are always a good bet, and floral arrangements or other natural elements keep the vibe earthy and grounding. Have some music on in the background and offer a selection of (booze-free!) drinks and light bites -- or better yet, have every guest bring a favorite dish. Make sure there is plenty of comfortable seating for everyone as well...most often, guests will sit in a circle on the ground with mama at the center or in a place of honor, so gather a bunch of throw pillows and cushions and embrace the cozy!
- Ask guests to bring a bead that represents something significant for them or for mama, like strength or tranquility. Once the beads are all collected, have them strung into a necklace that mama can wear during labor.
- Have each guest bring or prepare something to read aloud about pregnancy, birth, or motherhood. Purchase a blank journal ahead of time that each piece can be added to, as a keepsake.
- Create a birth affirmation banner. Use markers to decorate cardstock or cloth pennants with imagery or empowering mantras and then string them together to be hung up in the mama’s birth space.
Mama Pro Tip → I had a birth banner up for my recent home birth, right in front of the birthing tub. Every time a surge came over me, I focused hard on whichever pennant spoke to me in that moment and it absolutely helped! Phrases like “Open and breathe,” “You’ll soon meet your son,” and even a simple “You got this, mama!” gave me strength and reminded me of the love of family and friends during the hard work of labor.
- Make a labor candle by cutting different colored strands of embroidery thread or yarn for each guest, having them bless it with a wish or prayer for mama and baby, and tie it around a pillar candle. Mama can light it when early labor starts and as it melts over each strand, the wishes are released!
- Pamper mom with an aromatherapy foot bath (if she is ok with physical touch, that is). Add a few drops of a soothing essential oil like lavender and some salts to warm water and cleanse her feet at the start of the ceremony -- be prepared for tears; this is a surprisingly intimate and loving gesture!
- Cast a belly mold
- Burn sage, especially if mama is planning a home birth...sage is very cleansing, and is believed to clear away negative energy from a space.
- Share positive birth experiences! A huge component of a mother blessing is the mental and emotional support it gives the expecting mother before birth, and hearing empowering and joyful birth stories from her own community can help empower her!
Mama Pro Tip → Typically, there aren’t gifts at a mother blessing like there are at a baby shower...but if you do want to give your guests some ideas, consider presents that honor the birthing mother. A gift box of fourth trimester self-care products, a pair of luxurious slippers, or nursing-friendly loungewear can all help her feel extra supported and loved during this time.
Baby showers are less about preparing mama for the birth journey and more about the pregnancy and the new baby. This typically means three things: gifts, games, and gab! So whatever party atmosphere you decide to create with decorations, location, theme, etc., just make sure it’s conducive to socializing.
Unlike the mother blessing, there isn’t a ceremonial component to a baby shower, so find a fun theme to anchor the party instead (a British-esque high tea, an outdoor barbeque, classic children’s books...the sky’s the limit). Since gifts to help out the parents-to-be are a big part of a shower, make sure that all invitees have the mama’s registry well ahead of time so anything that requires shipping or personalization has plenty of time to arrive. Above all, let the expecting mama be your guide...if she isn’t the sit-down brunch type of gal, plan a fun night out at a stellar restaurant or do a spa day instead.
- Get crafty with some plain white onesies and fabric paint! Let each guest express their inner Picasso by decorating a onesie for the baby and leave mama with a drawerful of adorable (and useful) reminders of all the people who helped celebrate with her.
- Play “Baby Jeopardy”: make trivia categories and have all the guests play in teams. I’ll take “Celebrity Baby Names” for $500, Alex!
- Have every guest bring a freezer meal along with an item off the registry, so mama and family are well fed during postpartum
- Invite a psychic to come and do a reading for mama and baby (or for everyone!)
- Instead of a card, ask the guests to bring a children’s book inscribed with a note welcoming the new baby
- Ask attendees to share words of loving wisdom for the mom-to-be...for a special take on this, everyone can write a brief note of encouragement on small slips of paper to be collaged into artwork for the nursery wall later.
If you really want to think outside the box for your shower plans, consider throwing “traditional” etiquette rules out the window and doing one (or all) of the following:
- Wait until your guests leave to open gifts → Yes, it’s very kind of your friends to help you stock up for baby, but if the idea of opening presents with 20 people staring at you makes you cringe, don’t do it. Open them later, in front of your fave Netflix show, and send a nice thank-you note instead.
- Register for non-baby stuff → Instead of diaper cakes and rattles, how about asking for a restaurant gift certificate for a pre-baby date night, funds towards hiring a labor or postpartum doula, a really sexy juicer, or a necklace celebrating your new title.
- Invite the non-birthing partner → Oftentimes the person who isn’t pregnant is left out of the festivities (especially if it’s Dad), but it can be a really beautiful chance for the two of you to bond over this exciting impending change (and have people make a little bit of a fuss over them as well)
- Have a party even if it’s not your firstborn child → Whether you’re expecting your second, third, or eighth child, you’re still creating new life and that’s badass. Badasses deserve parties.
Sometimes you may not be able to celebrate mama-to-be in person. Whether it’s because friends and family don’t live close by, or due to personal preference or health reasons, the virtual mother blessing / shower can be a festive event as well...with a little planning ahead!
- Put together a packet of decorations and mail them to all attendees (balloons, banners, confetti!)...or simplify things and make a custom Zoom background for everybody.
- Play video-chat-friendly games
- Send mama-to-be a care package ahead of time with some delicious treats, or have her favorite restaurant do a delivery
- Avoid any potential awkwardness with some simple tips to make the event feel a little more organic
- Instead of a shower beforehand, plan a virtual sip and see for after the baby is born; it’s an easy (and less germy) way for mama to show off the new babe to as many people as she wants
- A lot of our suggested activities and ideas for in-person events will work just fine in a virtual format, too! Share birth stories and words of encouragement, have everyone make a pennant for a birth banner and mail it to mama along with a bead, and make it a co-ed affair...get creative and be flexible!
Mama Pro Tip → If mama doesn’t love technology but an in-person shower isn’t in the cards, plan a drive-through celebration for her! Set her up in the front yard in a comfy chair and a decorated table, and have local loved ones parade by in their cars and give well wishes or drop off gifts.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, the end goal is the same: a mom-to-be who feels loved, cared for, supported, and ready to rock mamahood!