As tradition would have it, most mothers-to-be have a baby shower before their new little bundle arrives. Guests fill the house with gifts, cake and diapers, and those closest to the mama-to-be, shower her in love and presents in preparation for the baby that is soon to come.
But a new craze is making its way onto the scene, and while it goes against the grain of tradition, it’s a trend we can get behind.
Rather than having prenatal celebrations, more and more moms are starting to have postpartum parties, in which THEY are cared for AFTER the baby arrives.
In a culture that stigmatizes mental illness, it’s no wonder that anything with the word “postpartum,” automatically triggers an association with depression.
We often hear about postpartum depression as some shameful experience that only a few mothers go through. But the reality is that postpartum depression is REAL and it effects 10-15% of new moms. It’s not choosey in who it claims as victim, and it’s rooted in loneliness.
Think about it. New moms are some of the loneliest, most isolated people on the planet. For weeks and even months on end, they spend their days inside the house feeding, burping, and changing this brand new little human, then doing laundry and cleaning the house when they should be napping themselves.
While baby showers are a great way to give gifts, postpartum parties are a way to help new parents when and how they need it most: during the emotional and physical recovery of the first six weeks after giving birth.
Some have taken on the party-planning task themselves, while other pregnant mamas have their best friend do the coordinating for their postpartum party.
Here are 6 tips for planning the postpartum party that every new parent desperately needs.
1. Invite Guests
Like any good party, you need guests—friends and family who want to shower you in love and HELP. Send out invitations explaining that the postpartum party is six weeks long and will be a fun-filled celebration in which they’ll get to participate in fun games like doing the dishes, folding the laundry, walking the dog, changing diapers, and ALL the household things (more on that later).
Again, it’s not traditional, and some may even find it silly to invite people over to your house just to clean it. But here’s the thing: after you give birth, people WANT to help. And even more than that, they WANT to see and hold your baby. Lure them in with the kid, and LET them serve you well. If they didn’t want to clean, they wouldn’t show up to your house.
2. Don’t Register for Gifts. Register for Help
Most people will go to Target and complete a baby registry—a list of all the items any new parent could ever want. And while you’ll still need some gifts, a service registry is all you need for a postpartum party.
Rather than being gifted 70 onesies that will fit for a solid month, make a spreadsheet with a registry of house-cleaning services that will help you out after the baby comes. It’s a MAJOR help to you to have people who love you, coming to do the dishes or vacuum your house, and it doesn’t cost them anything but their time! You can easily create a volunteer form at SignUpGenius for free.
3. Establish Party Hours
Yes, this event is called a party, but unlike others, this is one party in which you will not be doing the entertaining. All too often, new parents spend their first few weeks hosting well-intentioned visitors who actually cause more exhaustion than the whirlwind of having a new baby. Obviously people are going to want to come visit, but having specific hours and time slots for people to do so, will be SO healing for you during this time.
Make a Google calendar or spreadsheet to send with your invitation, and allow people to sign up for visiting hours. This will help you regulate how many people visit at once, and for how LONG. Newborns draw people in, and unfortunately, make it hard for them to leave. But boundaries are important. Set them before the baby comes so that your postpartum party is a breeze.
4. Organize a Food Schedule
There’s a lot of change happening in your schedule as new parents, and one of them will be how and when you eat. Organize a meal train where people can sign up to bring you dinner. It takes one more thing off of your plate, while ensuring you’ve got the fuel you need to keep going.
5. Register for Mothersitting
Just another service people can sign up for—coming to care for the new mama.
Babysitting is just around the corner. But in these first few weeks at home, you’re going to need someone who can be YOUR caretaker. Chances are, dad’s going to be back at work pretty quickly after the birth, which leaves you home alone with the baby all day long.
Add a mothersitting schedule to your registry! Having another adult with you—even just for a short time—can make all the difference. Whether they hold the baby and take over mommy duties while you nap, or simply just be there for conversation, community in these first six weeks is crucial for your mental health. Again, you can easily create a volunteer form at SignUpGenius for free.
6. Let People Help You
Asking for help is never easy, and accepting help that’s being freely offered to you can be even more uncomfortable. To this I say, get over yourself.
It takes a village to raise a child, and that village is not limited to just pouring into your kid. In fact, it starts with you—surrounding yourself with people who love you and in turn, love your children.
People WANT to help. We naturally desire to serve others, which means that those who love us have an innate desire to serve us.
It can be uncomfortable, thinking about sitting on the couch or taking a nap while your best friend does loads of YOUR laundry and YOUR dishes. But that’s because we live in a society that is ashamed of asking for help.
Don’t be. Let people help you because they can, and they want to.
Hopefully these tips help you in planning the postpartum party of the century! Take care of yourself, and your baby. Others will do the rest.