Dear anyone-who-has-or-ever-will-attend a baby-shower,

Who doesn’t love a good baby shower? Friends and family come together to lavish mom-to-be with gifts and encouragement. A fellowship of folk who are nearly as excited as mom that a cute little bundle of awesome will soon be joining the village! Even if you have to play corny games and even if there are no gluten free food options to snack on, you can can still enjoy the celebration of new life. It’s this new life that we gather for, right?

In the spirit of encouragement, please don’t talk about your own horrific birth experiences. Specifically, refrain from the phrases “almost died”, “excruciating”, “extensive tearing” and “terrifying”. Obviously you have some processing to do for your past experiences, I get that. No really, I do. Feel free to give me a call so that your story can be heard. However, the mom-to-be doesn’t need to hear that tale right now, this blessed occasion isn’t for horror stories.

Positive birth stories are welcomed! Empowering and encouraging words can inspire a mother as she nears her birthing time. Even if you had a less-than positive birthing experience, I am sure you can pull some gems out of it. The first moment you laid eyes on your babe? Maybe you had a great nurse? Or perhaps the jello was delicious? Anything will do.

But a word of caution: Even your most noble of intentions can be thwarted if you follow up your positive experience with a soapbox speech against the alternative to your birthing preferences. Did you have an awesome epidural? Great! Please don’t mention that you think unmedicated births are for masochists. Did you have a great home birth? Awesome! Please don’t express your opinion on “the dangers of hospital birth and the evil people who work there”. The lady with the bump, who you are celebrating, might be planning a hospital birth with some of the procedures you don’t agree with. Listen compassionately to what kind of birth the mom-to-be wants and consider how you can encourage her. If you can’t find the words, a smile and nod will do.

This all might seem like a no-brainer to you and I agree. I attend a ton of showers, as a doula and a henna artist, and I am always surprised by where the conversations end up. I’ve seen moms wipe away silent tears as her guests play a sick game of Who Had The Worst Birth. I’ve also witnessed a mother, who had been risked out of a home birth, listen to a guest proclaim “hospitals harbored nothing but epidurals and disease.” Judgement, mother’s guilt, fear… none of these have a place at a shower. Let us not forget what we are celebrating. Let us not forget that we gather to honor, encourage and pamper a new mother as she prepares for new life. Let us not forget that it is her birth experience to envision however she chooses.

Your friendly neighborhood doula