Let's talk baby showers for a minute. Most people either really love them, or really dread them. Even with a registry, it's hard to buy a gift that you feel is meaningful but still useful. Babies grow so quickly that it's hard to predict how many clothes they'll need and at what ages. Not every baby likes every bottle. Some diapers cause rashes to some babies over others. Here's a list of my five favorite non-traditional baby shower gift ideas.
Childbirth classes make a great baby shower gift! Not only is it invaluable to have the knowledge and preparation that comes with taking a class, but it's also a gift they'll be able to use over and over again and will never grow out of. Typical childbirth classes range from about $150-$350, and while that may be on the pricey side for the average baby shower gift, it would be easy for a few people to split the cost, or for the shower attendees to each contribute a small amount. Studies show that women who took a childbirth class were 25% more likely to have a vaginal birth, and women who had a birth plan were twice as likely to avoid a Cesarean. Aside from those amazing benefits, couples feel more prepared and confident going into their birth, and have a lot of fun learning and practicing relaxation techniques together. Take a look at your local instructors here!
Birth Doula Services
Of all the non-traditional gift ideas on this list, doula services are the most expensive, but with good reason! (If you're not familiar with what a doula is, what a doula does, or the evidence on why doulas are so amazing, here's a great article from Evidence Based Birth about just those things.) Doula prices vary significantly, especially from location to location, but you can expect to pay $500-$1000 for a well-trained doula. Studies consistently show better outcomes when doulas are a part of the birth team, including a reduction of Cesarean rates by 50%, reduction in length of labor by 25%, and reduction in the use of Pitocin by 40%. Studies also show that mom's perception of her labor is also drastically improved with a trained doula present. While we love and support nurses, they're just not able to be a constant source of support during labor, and a doula's sole purpose is to be there for you 100%. Meet your local doulas here!
Postpartum Doula Services
Did you know there was such a thing as a postpartum doula? A postpartum doula works differently than a birth doula in that they're there to support you after birth rather than during the birth. A postpartum doula will come to your home and could help you with any number of things, like making meals, cleaning house, doing laundry, watching the baby so mom can nap, shower, or eat, helping families create a plan for when she's no longer serving them, or even helping with baby-related things like guidance with breastfeeding. Not all postpartum doulas do all of these things, so it's important to meet with different ones until you find the right match for you. The average cost of a postpartum doula is about $30-45 an hour.
Bengkung belly binding is used around the world in many different cultures during the postpartum period to aid in a quicker and easier recovery after birth. The postpartum mom is wrapped snugly with a 100% cotton fabric wrap that will support her body as it returns to it's pre-pregnant state. The benefits of belly binding include: healing of diastasis recti and bringing separated abdominal muscles together, improves posture and alignment after birth, reduces water retention, provides lower back support and may alleviate back pain, helps organs, especially the uterus, return to the pre-pregnant state, supports loosened ligaments, may reduce postpartum bleeding time, and, it just feels great! Belly binding can range from $150-$500 depending on how many days they come to wrap you, but you will also learn how to wrap yourself properly so you can continue receiving the benefits of binding.
Door Dash/Uber Eats/GrubhuB Gift Cards
Let's be real, nobody wants to cook after having a baby, and some people don't ever want to cook period. One of the greatest gifts you can give to a postpartum mom is help with food. If you're not the make-a-freezer-meal-and-drop-it-off kind of person, get her some gifts cards to food delivery services instead. It's easy for new moms to forget to feed themselves while keeping up with the demands of keeping a new baby alive and happy, and food delivery is a great way to combat that! She can order food while she's sitting down feeding the baby and have it dropped on her door ready to eat as soon as she picks it up. I remember when I was pregnant with my first couple of kids (before food delivery like this was around) wishing someone would invent this service to deliver ice cream to me.
Obviously this is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully it gives you some good ideas to get you thinking. What other things would you add to this list?
The fourth trimester, or he immediate postpartum period, is something a lot of new parents are never really prepared for. They hear birth stories, get parenting advice, and fill a dresser with cute new baby clothes, but how to cope with the demands of an infant when you're sleep-deprived and healing from a birth is usually not a part of the conversation leading up to the birth of a baby.
This bothers me for a few reasons, but primarily because it persuades new moms to feel like they should be able to handle it all on their own without asking for help. "No one really talks about it, so it must not be hard for most people. I must be weak, a bad mother, or doing something wrong because I'm really struggling." Family and friends are usually so excited for your new baby, congratulating you on a job well done, but aren't paying much attention to how mom and dad are coping. It's hard. It's lonely. You may not feel like celebrating, and you may feel guilty for not feeling as excited as people think you should be.
If you haven't yet heard it, let me be the first to say that you are doing beautifully. You are strong. You are a great mother. You are not alone.
Postpartum Mood Disorders
What are postpartum mood disorders? Mayo Clinic defines a mood disorder in this way: "If you have a mood disorder, your general emotional state or mood is distorted or inconsistent with your circumstances and interferes with your ability to function." Most people have, at very least, heard of postpartum depression, but many people aren't sure of what exactly that looks like, or even that there are other postpartum mood disorders to be watchful of. There are a variety of other mood disorders associated with pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, including postpartum blues (the "baby blues"), postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum psychosis.
Common symptoms of postpartum mood disorders are: anger, irritability, guilt, anxiety, crying, restlessness, fatigue, mood swings, panic attacks, inability to concentrate, insomnia, and loss of interest or pleasure in things you normally enjoy.
Some quick stats for you (found here and here):
I Think I need Help, Now What?
If you suspect you or your spouse is dealing with a postpartum mood disorder, talking with your doctor or psychotherapist is a great start. Depending on your symptoms, and at the recommendation of a medical professional, you may consider medications to help alleviate the symptoms you're experiencing. Sometimes therapy is enough to reduce symptoms to a manageable level, and sometimes a combination of therapy and medications is going to be the right choice for you. If you feel like you need help, talk with your care provider as soon as you can.
For me, personally, I've experienced postpartum depression and/or anxiety after the birth of each of my four children. I had friends and family around for each birth, but the pervasive sentiment of, "If there's anything you need, just let me know. I'm happy to help!" was hard for me to handle. I knew I needed help, but I didn't know what help to ask for, and I certainly didn't want people to think I couldn't manage on my own. Most people do genuinely want to help, but it's hard for them to take the step to initiate support.
Here are some things you can ask for help with, or can help other new moms with:
Above all, remember that asking for help does not make you weak, it doesn't make you a bad mother, and it doesn't mean you aren't capable of caring for yourself and your baby. You are doing your best, and that is enough.
We are Birth Boot Camp certified doulas and childbirth educators. we are passionate about birth, education, and a couple's right to be informed about their options.