There seems to be an attitude ingrained in our British Culture that we must “Keep Calm and Carry On!”… all very well until such time as a Baby Tornado comes your way and you are left juggling their life and yours! I personally believe that there are times to ruddy well ask for some help. Man is not an island after all.
I am certainly a proponent for the ancient Chinese art of “zuo yuezi” whereby a group of women (other mothers/extended family) come to take responsibility for the new Mothers every day life for a period of time after the birth (any where between 21 and 40 days), in that time the Mother focuses on healing, replenishing and nursing her newborn- a far cry from our Western society where new mums are just expected to “bounce back”.
Frustratingly in our culture, Mother’s are forced down the very opposite direction of recovery and made to feel as if they should be getting back to the version of themselves before they brought new life into the world (which is a very unrealistic expectation indeed). Her life has changed in profound ways that means she deserves and requires special care and the space to return to her ‘normal’ without having to worry about her previous life. The principal of zuo yuezi offers a softer landing for an otherwise beautiful yet terrifying journey into Motherhood.
I know from my own experience that my first few weeks after birth would have been impossible without the support from others, particularly my own Mummy who zuo yuezi’ed the shit out of me whilst I had to stay in hospital for 18 days! These weeks are formative in the bond between you and your child and if truly alone new Momma Bears would experience lonlieness, exhaustion, stress and lacking nutrition – 4 factors that contribute to postpartum depression.
Though my circumstances were somewhat irregular, I certainly felt overwhelmed with my bizarre schedule and lack of personal care from the ward staff. I felt like I was going insane and all I lived for was to sustain my baby, yet I was barely sustaining myself. I had to feed my child through a tube which requires precision and full awareness but I was sleep deprived & physically and emotionally sore.
My mum did a tremendous job of stepping in to care fully for me. She made sure I slept. She even insisted that she learned about and was also medically signed off on tube feeding Bea too so I could take time out from Mum’ing and have a shower!
Talking of showers… I think Baby Showers are a great idea because they could be the first step in a more modern approach to zuo yuezi! After all it is essentially a group of women, encircling the Mother to Be and making her feel as if she is the most important person at that time. Here are a list of ten other reasons I believe more Mummies should consider throwing a Baby Shower!
1) The Baby deserves it!
Having gone through loss it is so important that this baby was loved for not just the miracle they were but also in spite of that, and when coming into the world they would know such love.
Babies are a blessing and anything to celebrate the incredible journey is a good thing. There are essential that a baby needs to survive (which can mostly be provided by Mummy) but those little treats that otherwise may be costly and a luxury to new parents are a bonus.
New life is amazing & I believe each child deserves the best start in life.
2) The Momma deserves it!
A mums bod goes through so many changes that are just heroic if you think about it. Battling the rise & dip of hormones exponentially, sustaining a feutus whilst her organs are pushed to the size by the expanding uterus, the breasts swell to comical proportions (let’s not even go there regarding premature lactation!) and double the blood volume! There’s a catalogue of not-so-sexy potential side effects of carrying this little person for 9 months; haemorrhoids, sciatica, acne, constipation and insomnia. Sleepless nights, painful days, then there’s the birth to follow….. no wonder mums to be may have an impending sense of dread of things to come.
What better way to remind the Mum-To-Be that she is not alone and often the gifts are thoughtful and can remedy some of those “horrible bits”!
3) It Gathers all your favourite people in one place!
And takes pressure off you as a sore, tired Mum To Be from visiting people individually. They can come to you to celebrate. In my opinion you can never find too many reasons to celebrate and bring the people you love together. It also means that logistically you can rest your sore ankles and see family and friends who you may not have seen for a long time.
4) The Advice is paramount!
From seasoned Mothers to new Mothers! I was advised on all kinds of best brands and products to suit my needs. I think having such a wealth of information and personal stories prepared me for most eventualities (sadly no one that attended had a similar birth experience to me with Premmie babies) but at the time it made me feel a lot more in the know, especially with warts-and-all accounts!
It is also the time that people in my life can successfully impart their knowledge as when you have your feet firmly planted on the soils of Motherhood there is no way in heck you are taking any unsolicited advice then! But at the time of a Baby Shower you are still navigating the often troubling waters of uncertainty. The women who gather with you will feel instrumental in making you feel as ready as possible and who doesn’t love to share their story? It’s a win win situation.
5) Birth Affirmations.
Following seamlessly on from advice; one of the best gifts from my Baby Shower in terms of experience was the advice to turn into birthing aides to repeat to yourself and apply when you think it is all too much. A great idea is to get your group of ladies to write short, pithy phrases to remain focused such as “You’re body can do this Mummy!” or “keep breathing and work towards your end goal!” They really help for a much more enjoyable birthing experience and remind you that so many other women have gotten through labour.
6) The Fun!
its a time to be silly and be yourself before your baby comes along and you may not be able to put yourself first again in a long, long time!
My shower was one of the highlights of my pregnancy. It was a way to be ridiculous and play games. (The games aspect may not be down your street and that’s cool too! If you organise it you can call the shots & have it as a no-games zone if you so wish!)
My Baby Shower was truly an event and the attendees were talking about it for a long time afterwards! A particular highlight was the “Dirty Nappy Game”! (See post on Highlights of my Pregnancy.)
7) Baby Showers are gaining popularity!
It is worth being the person to organise it as it you have a friend that loves planning a Baby Shower is likely to happen and you may as well be the one finalising decisions. They are not just “an American Thing” now as there is certainly great value in them & the output > input!
You may find that you regret not throwing a Baby Shower if you see other Mum-To-Be’s photos!
8) The Photography!
People love nothing more than being budding photographers and capturing all those candid, hilarious & beautiful moments from every angle.
I was personally very happy that there was an opportunity for photos to be taken of me pregnant as it came to an abrupt end and only 2 weeks after my Baby Shower I was giving birth! It serves as a way to capture your Bump in its growing glory. You can look back fondly at your pregnant belly and with so many “photographers” on hand you won’t miss a moment!
9) The Gifts!
People love buying baby things! It’s inevitable! The draw of tiny baby outfits is just too strong. The “awww” factor compels people to buy. Each gift offers an easy transition from pregnancy to birth as people are very thoughtful and will think of items that will change your experience that you would never have invested in yourself.
The gesture of gifts is so heart-warming. It wasn’t a prerequisite of attending my Baby Shower but I ended up being so blown away by the utter kindness and outpouring of love.
My Hubby and I ended up not having to buy a single nappy for three months!
Any excuse to eat beautiful goodies when Preggers is welcome. Every day is a cake day but cake with purpose makes you feel less guilty and to share it with a group of amazing women is even better!
I think I was so taken with the idea of a Baby Shower because my first experience of pregnancy was so tragic and I told myself that I would enjoy every moment of my next pregnancy despite the constant worry. My fabulous circle of women from family, to childhood friends, to new friends really came through in force she style and reminded me that I was doing an amazing job!
Lets bring back some zuo yuezi to make the transition into Motherhood a happy and healthy one. From the event you are also reminded who will endeavor to be in your life once the baby arrives and whom you can call on.
I highly recommend a Baby Shower as a way to connect, forget (any worries you may have) & recharge with great food, company and memories to be made!
Have you hosted a Baby Shower? What was the most important aspect in deciding to throw a Baby Shower? What was your favourite moment from your Baby Shower? What was your favourite gift? Please feel free to leave your experiences in the comments below.
Love Bea’s Mummy x