For most families, the birth of a baby is a time full of joy and celebration. It is the beginning of where a new life brings increased family connection.
At the end of labour, whether long or short, everything has becomes different. Thus begins the opportunity to become the kind of parent you want to be—reflecting the values and interests your new family embraces. Honouring new moms by throwing a baby shower is very common in our culture and creating a baby shower that reflects your new family’s values and interests is a great way to start your parenting journey.
Baby showers are a relatively new tradition born out of post World War II America. The culture of owning 'stuff', especially of stuff for babies and children, began around the same time. In this day and age, it is easy to get lost in the 'stuff' and forget the crucial aspect of“mothering the mother”. Older traditions recognized that nurtured mamas nurture healthy babies. This nurturing (both physical and psychological) is so important in a mother’s breastfeeding success, in helping prevent postpartum depression, and in how thoroughly she heals. In many cultures, throughout the ages, this nurturing was particularly focused on the six weeks after giving birth. Women were encouraged to rest, to eat nutrient-rich foods, and to avoid stimulation. In these cultures, the celebration of birth often focused on helping the expectant mother either prepare psychologically for birth or for this postpartum period.
Whatever you choose to do--have a baby shower or blessing-way or other celebration of some sort, as well as the baby ‘stuff’, getting support in form of gifts of food, services, or a few truly needed items will let your community participate in supporting you while you support and nurture your baby.
Choosing gifts that reflect your values—whether you are ‘green’, only buy ‘natural and organic’, or just want to live lightly on the earth, is important. If you talk to experienced parents, they always have a list of the stuff they felt they were tricked into buying or were given as a gift that they really didn’t need. These things aren’t just unnecessary and hard on the planet, they come to be annoying when you trip over them on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There are also a few items that experienced parents will say they loved and never want to be without. Remember, having a baby is an exciting time, and people will want to gift you. You just want to be very careful to direct your loving, well-intentioned family and friends away from the plastic baby-wipe warmer and towards that thing you really need.
The best way to get what you need is to ask for it. Gift Registries can be a great help. Registering at places like Babies ‘R Us may get you the one organic toy on your list, but be you must be prepared for all the other stuff too--so if you don't want that stuff--probably best not to register there.
Instead, you may want to register at your cool, local, green baby store. This way you can go there see, touch and feel, for yourself what you love, take a cloth diapering class or baby wearing workshop, and then register for what you want.
If you want to compile a registry of a variety of specific, green things, including a cloth diaper service, an organic mattress, and maybe even a home-made baby bed from Etsy, you can do this at Babylist. Another great registry is www.sokindregsitry.org. This amazing registry allows you to register (while donating to a cause like supporting midwives in remote locations for example), for a group gift like the organic mattress you want, while also being able to accommodate gifts of time (getting someone to come Monday to do laundry, Wednesday to make dinner, and/or Friday to hold the baby so you can have a long bath or have some much needed couple time)!
THINGS YOU DON'T NEED
The Diaper Genie. This is a plastic garbage can just for diapers that requires special plastic bags. Supposedly doesn't smell--but not true! Regular garbage works just as well.
Plastic baby baths (that’s what sinks are for).
Changing tables (they are one of the top polluters in a home and six months later you will not use it),
Baby wipe warmer (known to spread toxic chemicals found in regular baby wipes around the house).
Polyester baby pyjamas (they are oh-so-cute, but they often contain dangerous chemical flame retardants).
Plastic toys (almost all plastics, even those labelled BPA-free and non-toxic leach estrogen mimickers).
Also, wait a bit before you buy strollers, baby monitors, and baby clothes. What you think you want of these items and what you end up using, if often very different. However, for the first few months you will likely just use the stroller that your carseat clicks in or you will keep your baby close in the sling. Then, you may just find, someone gave you a simple umbrella stroller and you love it.
You will be given a million baby clothes, so ask for those things that you aren’t likely to get and are really sure you want—like the oh-so-soft and healthy Merino Wool onsie.
THINGS YOU WILL LOVE
There are a few things that will make life so much easier and you will love having in your life.
Services such as a postpartum doula, food delivery, or just someone to wash the clothes and fold the laundry (always a good thing!)
Healthy Sleep Set Up: either a formaldehdye-free crib with a natural mattress (no polyurethane foam full of chemical flame retardants). Or, an all-wood co-sleeper or bassinet with the same kind of mattress but smaller. Or, just an organic wool pad to put under the baby if she sleeps in your bed.
Cloth diapers. Saves thousands of dollars and it's good for the planet too! Today's designs make using cloth just as easy as disposable. If you prefer, have your family give you the gift of a diaper service for the first three months when you will be changing the baby all the time. The service washes the diapers for you and takes them back when you are ready for bigger or different diapers.
A cloth diaper trial. There are dozens of sites in Canada where you can register for cloth diapers and for “trial packs” where you try different types of cloth diapers before you commit to one. Every major city has one including: www.calgaryclothdiaperdepot.com, www.ottawaclothdiapers.com www.jilliansdrawers.com, www.newandgreen.com/, www.littlemonkeystore.com,
Baby slings and carriers. A basic sling or a soft-shell carrier such as an Ergo, Beco, Chimparoo or Mei-tei style, are extremely useful tools for new parents. Getting one made from organic materials is best, however, if you choose a regular fabric, organic teething pads are a great addition!
Sleep sack/swaddle. 100% cotton, bamboo or organic swaddles with or without velcro are the best thing ever for swaddling...and swaddling is the best thing ever to get your new baby to sleep.
Healthy and organic teas, salves, and sitz bath for postpartum help the new mama heal and the baby get the most natural start in life. Visit the Matraea's online store for a great Green Mama Approved selection.
Baby socks. Seriously. At least 6 million in a variety of sizes, best scratch mitts going--not just for feet!
Good books, especially the new Green Mama book, or visit www.thegreenmama.com for the best books on all aspects of natural parenting.
Loving Green Mama and Green Baby Kits. Get a collection of the safest and healthiest things to nourish a mother and/or her baby in one kit put together by Matraea and The Green Mama. These include teas, creams, teething necklaces, wooden rattles, the Green Mama book, and more.