Say the word postpartum and most people think depression. And in the U.S., the lack of support for new parents is a wholly depressing situation—employers aren’t required to provide paid parental leave, and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act only guarantees that you’ll have a job to come back to after taking 12 weeks off…unpaid. What we do have, however, is a thriving baby shower industry, which, let’s be real, champions consumerism and regressive gender ideologies. What if we took all the energy, time, and money that goes into prenatal fanfare and instead put it toward helping new parents when they need it most: during the emotional and physical recovery of the first six weeks after giving birth? Whether you take it upon your pregnant self, or have your BFF plan it for you, the suggestions below outline how to throw a postpartum party that gives a new parent exactly what they need.
1. Make a guest list, i.e. the folks you’ll want to see after giving birth. Invite them to the postpartum party, explaining that this event is actually six weeks long, is BYOF (food, that is), and will have supercool games like housecleaning and diaper changing.
2. Organize a food schedule using a site like mealtrain.com so friends and relatives can take turns feeding you. Local besties can sign up to come cook meals or drop off care packages, and cross-country fam can still pitch in by sending delivery.
3. Set up a house-cleaning registry. Cleaning up baby barf and dirty diapers is enough for a new parent; someone else should do the rest. Ask friends and family to donate time and elbow grease for mopping floors and doing dishes, or set up an account with a cleaning service so people can gift a few hours of housekeeping.
4. Ask for mothersitting. Yes, you read that right. Partner leave is even more rare than maternity leave, which means a new parent is often left all alone. Having someone who can hold a baby while you go to the bathroom, shower, nap, or who will even just listen as you talk postpartum changes is crucial. Consider bringing in a professional—like a postpartum doula—that folks can help pay for.
5. Establish “visiting hours.” Too often, new families end up entertaining well-intentioned visitors who just don’t know when to leave. Set up a Google calendar, or something similar, so people can sign up for a time and you won’t be overwhelmed with too many guests at once. Remind callers that they can bring food, do laundry, or walk the dog in exchange for newborn snuggles. Everyone knows it takes a village. That village just needs some radical readjustment.
By Marisa Mendez Marthaller
Illustrated by Ashley Nicole DeLeon
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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