Are Postpartum Parties the New Baby Showers?

Families with new babies can always use a helping hand but friends and neighbors aren’t always clear on where they fit in. Or the support comes in sporadically, which while absolutely appreciated is not always ideal for busy, exhausted new parents working around fickle baby schedules, sometimes just responding to a text from a co-worker who is offering to bring over dinner can be a challenge.  Which is why we as a culture need to embrace the idea of postpartum parties.

Postpartum parties are the brainchild of Marisa Mendez Marthaller writing in Bust magazine. Most pregnant moms have baby showers to acquire the baby products that they need (and plenty that they really don’t, she points out). Rather than ask friends for consumer goods, Mendez Marthaller proposes that new moms skip the pre-baby gear grab and instead request friends and family offer support through gifts of their time and talents after the baby arrives. We’re talking help with the housekeeping, meal prep, baby holding, sibling watching… whatever assistance the new mom needs. Call it a postpartum party.

Here’s how Mendez Marthaller envisions it working: Pre-baby, expecting moms create “guest lists” of friends and family who have offered to help. Mama hands the guest lists off to a close friend or relative who can organize meal trains, housekeeping “registries,” and online calendars for home visits, and then invite the guests to sign up for the designated tasks. It’s organized, easy for both the new mom and the volunteer helpers, and it ensures the family is receiving the help they need, when they need it. And the rewards for the volunteers are generous: In addition to the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from being a good person, there are also the newborn snuggles. Aww, sign us up!

 

Moms can request all kinds of support through postpartum parties, including asking friends to watch their baby and other children so they can nap or complete tasks.

The Community Benefits of Postpartum Parties

While the idea of providing this kind of support isn’t new, branding it postpartum parties brings a new level of focus and organization to what can be a chaotic time. We see so many reasons why postpartum parties should become as standard as baby showers (which, unlike Mendez Marthaller, we believe can coexist with requests for postpartum support).

They would enable new moms to request help without needing to worry about the logistics of who’s showing up when or what’s for dinner. The new mom could ask for help with feeling guilty, knowing that she will be able to pay it forward for a pregnant friend. Plus, the weeks after a baby arrives are exciting but exhausting, and can be lonely and isolating. Whether you suffer from postpartum depression or not, knowing that there’s a village enlisted to help and support you is so essential.


Postpartum parties would be good for community development and the volunteers participating in them as well. Many people who would like to help in these situations might not know how best to go about it. They might feel like asking a new mom what she needs is akin to bothering her, and some parents have a hard time asking for or accepting individual offers of help. But enlist a friend to mobilize and organize that support into online sign-ups, and even send out invites à la a baby shower, and all of a sudden it’s a full-on volunteer event with clear roles, tasks, and purpose. Pitch in with a group of others to help a new mama and bam! All of a sudden you’re part of a village, and that feels as good as having one.

Moms, what do you think of postpartum parties? Would you help organize one for an expecting friend?

katie quirk

Katie Quirk Dunyon lives and writes in Seattle, WA with her husband, son, daughter, and a hamster named Turbo.