Celebrating New Life With Your Nearest and Dearest
Eating veggies, even when you're craving ice cream: That's your job. Dragging yourself to the bathroom three or more times a night to pee: Again, it's all on you. The pain of childbirth: Yeah, that's yours too. All the hard work of pregnancy falls on your shoulders, so it's only fair that planning and hosting a baby shower fall to someone else. But even though you shouldn't have to plan your own shower, the loved ones who do organize such a gathering should be open to your input, especially when it comes to timing.
As with so many things in life, planning the perfect baby shower is all about timing. Have a shower too early, and you may feel superstitious about something happening to the baby. Plan it too late, and you might end up in labor while your friends eat all the cupcakes.
Generally speaking, showers are scheduled during the third trimester. Some women wait until between weeks 34 and 36, but you may prefer to be showered earlier. Any time between one and two months before the due date is normal. If you're having multiples or have a high-risk pregnancy, err on the early side of this timeline in case you go into labor early or are prescribed bed rest in the third trimester.
Some women prefer to hold off on showers until they give birth. That may be your preference if you want to wait until the baby arrives to assess what gifts you need, or if you're having a tough pregnancy and don't feel like celebrating just yet. A post-labor shower can be sweet because your friends and relatives can actually meet and hold the baby. That you can partake in champagne doesn't hurt, either.
It's common for a mom-to-be to be the subject of several showers. Your side of the family may host one, your partner's family another, while your coworkers plan another shower, and close friends host yet a fourth. It's important to know when they're being scheduled, so you can be sure they don't conflict.
Baby Shower Etiquette
A lot of the rules around the “right” way to host a baby shower have gone out the window in recent years. They used to be for women only, but co-ed showers are now popular in some circles. Commonly accepted etiquette says that the shower host is not supposed to be a close relative like your mom or sister; instead, it should be hosted either by a friend or a non-immediate family member such as a cousin or aunt.
But if it makes sense in your situation for your mom or sister to throw the shower, by all means enjoy it. In all kinds of situations, this makes sense, such as if no friend or relative steps up to host the shower, or if your mom is the only one in the family with the means and space to host the party.
Whoever hosts the shower, she should consult with you about timing and the guest list. If you have several showers, invite each friend and relative to just one, so no one feels pressured to buy multiple gifts. Your mom and sister(s) may be the exception, depending on how close you are, both emotionally and geographically.
Doing Your Part
Once the shower is scheduled and the guest list is handled, you have only a few responsibilities other than showing up. The host should send out invitations about three weeks before the event, including a note about where you're registered. That means you should take care of registering in at least a few places at least a month before your first shower is scheduled.
If you have really strong opinions about games vs. no games, you may want to share them with the host—but the kinder thing to do is grin and bear whatever the host plans. Even if you're not thrilled about playing “guess what's in the diaper,” you should still be able to enjoy the day and feel the love.
Kathryn Walsh has more than 20 years of experience working with children and has been writing about children and parenting topics for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including TheBump, Working Mother and Mamapedia.