Looking past the baby registry

Sunday, May 24, 2015

This topic has been on my mind so much lately! Let's see if I can get my thoughts out coherently...

As a society, we are so focused on products. What to buy next. What to buy that will make our lives more convenient. What to buy to make our neighbors jealous. What to buy to make our lives easier. And companies LOVE this. American consumerism is building markets. Just look at Target. They make millions just from their baby registry. And that is just what I want to write about in this post...

The baby shower is a beautiful American tradition. Perhaps it could be described as a rite of passage. Family and friends surround a new mother, celebrating the gift of life and giving gifts to show her their love and support. I love baby showers. I love partaking in the excitement and anticipation of welcoming a new life to earth. We eat good food, play silly games and give advice to the new mother. She opens gifts and we ooh and ahh over the softest blanket and the tiniest shoes. At the showers I was given, I felt so loved and lifted up! I have such kind and loving family who have given me such thoughtful gifts at showers!

Companies like Target love baby showers too. They love them so much that they even give you a gift when you make a baby registry with them. They want you to make a registry so well-meaning family and friends will buy their products. We let companies like Target tell us what we need to buy (I'm looking at you, $500 stroller) when having a baby rather than relying on our own intuition and common sense. The media and baby registries lead us to believe that we have to have a pristine and perfectly organized and stocked nursery before the baby arrives. I am here to tell you otherwise!

Do you have boobs?
Good. Your baby will be able to survive and thrive for at least 6 months on breastmilk alone. 

Do you have diapers?
Grab a few packs of newborns before the baby arrives and when you run out, your husband can go to the store for more. Gasp.

Do you have a baby carrier?
Not yet? I'm working on a review of my favorites but in the meantime, look for a local babywearing group to try on a few before you buy.

Those are all the things you need for a baby my friends! (Along with baby clothes because who does not like tiny baby clothes?!) What you really need for a baby is a little harder to put on a baby registry but is a billion times more important.

Parents want to prepare for their new baby and often we look to the baby registry first. I'm here to help you look past the fancy swing, the shiny bouncer and special infant tub. There is more to preparing for a new baby than a list of products. Parents have raised successful children for millennia without any gadgets at all! What they had instead was a village of support...

While we don't live in villages anymore or often close to our families, there is a growing group of professionals who fill this gap with love and passion for what they do.

What would really help new families is SUPPORT and EDUCATION. These are investments in the birth of your child. A moment that only happens once but will affect your family, and often, the mental health of the mother, for years. Childbirth education, doula support, lactation support and postpartum support are not luxuries but important services that empower families. Your birth experience matters. Your postpartum experience matters.

Remember that all of these services are given by professionals. Paying well ensures that you are hiring an experienced and educated professional. As with so many other things in life, you get what you pay for. 

Childbirth education
A quality childbirth education class series (usually NOT at a hospital, in my personal experience) is a wonderful investment in your birth! You'll learn what to expect in the days and weeks leading up to your birth, how to handle labor pain, how to release fears related to birth, learn what options you have during birth and how to make those decisions before labor begins, and to create confidence in yourself and your ability to birth! If you think, "I'm going to have an epidural, I don't need this", think again! Prices range from $200-500.

Doula Support
A doula will reinforce what you have learned during your childbirth classes. She will support you in your birth choices. She will make you feel comfortable and ensure that your partner feels involved.  Your midwife, OB and nurses have several patients to juggle at the same time you are birthing. You and only you are your doula's focus for the entirety of your birth. Priceless support! Again, if you think, "I'm going to have an epidural, I don't need a doula", think again! $400-$1500.

Lactation Education & Support
While many moms begin breastfeeding without any problems, many have trouble at the start. Quality lactation support can save you thousands of dollars in formula (and weeks of pain!). A private in-home lactation consultant visit is around $150. Visits with a lactation consultant in a clinic are about $50. Better yet, take a class and be prepared BEFORE baby comes. Lactation Link has online classes that can be viewed from anywhere.

Postpartum Support
A postpartum doula supports the new family in many ways: preparing meals, caring for older children, helping mom find resources for postpartum mood disorders, cleaning the house, doing errands or laundry...whatever you need. This can be a marvelous gift if the new family lives far from their families. Prices are usually by hour, $20+/hour. Other ideas for postpartum are listed in these important articles: How to Love a New Mother , After the Birth, What a Family Needs and Take Back Postpartum.

All of these kinds of support are things we have replaced with gadgets and the make-it-on-our-own attitudes. New mama! I am talking to you! You do not have to do this on your own. You deserve help. Make whatever changes you need in your lifestyle now to prepare to have these support measures in place when you bring your new baby to earth. I have been blessed to have support through countless meals, grocery trips, gas in the car, the house cleaned and toddler taken care of after I gave birth. I want other moms to know that they can also have this kind of support and more! And let's work to make baby showers a chance for families to help mom pay for these services as well as a time to shower the baby with adorable clothes and a time to educate mom on being a new mom. That is what I loved about mine....

baby hiking boots!
My big sister Mandi lent me her baby and sling to teach me how to babywear. 

My big sisters teaching me how to swaddle!
Also read: Why Your Birth is More Important Than Your Bugaboo.
When you're pregnant, there are more useful things to do than flipping through a catalogue.


  1. Oh how I wish SOMEONE would have told me this before I filled my house with useless junk! You are exactly right, my favorites were my baby carrier, pump, books for the baby, and clothes and blankets, and a book filled with advice from other moms. The rest were rarely used. The meals delivered and groceries were a godsend!


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