By Angela Farrell
Woman. Strong, powerful, woman. And never more so than the day you give birth.
Childbirth is one of life’s most significant rites of passage. In the Western world we tend to acknowledge this with a pre-birth celebration, usually a baby shower where you receive lots of gifts…for your baby. So why have these modern gatherings tended to forget the woman herself, and only focus on the baby?
Baby showers, where fluffy white cupcakes are consumed, bellies are measured, parcels are passed, baby names are guessed and pale pink and blue bunting is rife. It seems as though once you announce you’re pregnant, we must waddle out of the way and make way for everything that’s cuddly, cute, tiny, and NOT at all about you.
But YOU are the woman transitioning to motherhood and YOU need more support now than you will ever need in your life, even if you don’t think you need it!
So what are the alternatives to baby-centric gatherings and gifts? How can we honour and celebrate the New Mother?
In what I sincerely hope is not just a trend, but a renaissance in pre-birth ritual, there are some mama-focussed celebrations that are gaining momentum.
For example, I attended a BABY-Q: a relaxed gathering of both partners’ friends and family, where there was a chance to talk about adult things like birthing preferences and how much help the couple thinks they might need after the birth. This modern celebration acknowledges the particular role that the partner will play in the actual birth and as a parent and support person after the birth.
I’ve also been privileged to attend a BABY BLESSING which has origins in ancient Navajo tradition. My sister-in-law brought together her closest female friends, we sat in a circle and offered loving words to give her strength and support as we each placed a special bead full of meaning on a string that she had with her at the birth. It was deeply connecting, fun and infused with her personality and those of the women around her. Amazing and unforgettable.
Sharon Settecasse is studying at the School of Shamanic Womencraft in Australia, and says “Giving a Mama the gift of your love and support through personally meaningful rituals allow us as women to transfer strength and wisdom from woman to woman, something that’s often missing from the modern baby shower.” For Baby Blessing ideas head to www.moonsong.com.au.
Warning: the BABY-Q or Baby Blessing may not get you as many Instagram likes as a professionally styled baby shower, but they will offer you some sense of being a capable, powerful woman, with your own thoughts and taste, who is truly loved and supported into the birth. You can’t buy that!
Gifts are the other side of the mother-to-be equation. More singlets, booties and play mats than one baby will ever need has pretty much been the gold-standard over the last few decades. More recently, nappy bouquets have added some novelty and good vibes, but they are STILL all about the baby. New mamas will agree – jumpsuits and singlets that they grow out of before they see the light, do not make you a happier person after the birth. And wellbeing is by far THE most important factor for the health of the mother and infant.
I don’t mean to say forget the baby, we need to instead, remember the new mother.
The answer? Gifts that are actually about the woman, and NOT just the baby. Yes, it’s a shocking concept… but no newborn has ever been offended and stopped talking to their Aunty because they didn’t get a complete set of dove grey baby threads. I can personally remember in every detail the gifts that were for me and only me, such as a candle in my favourite scent, a home-cooked casserole delivered to my door, and a box of items to help me adjust to motherhood. All priceless, all given and received with love. I don’t mean to say forget the baby, we need to instead, remember the new mother.
Before you organise or receive a birthing gift or celebration, pause for a minute and think about the powerful, amazing woman that should be honoured and supported during one of life’s most significant and sacred rites of passage.