Modern Pregnancy Celebrations: Nurturing or Narcissistic?

After supporting many friends through pregnancies, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the breadth of modern pregnancy celebrations. However, when my husband and I were finally blessed with a pregnancy this last spring, I quickly realized that I had no idea how pregnancy is celebrated by a large number of Americans.

The gender reveal. The sprinkle. The push present. Do these observances really celebrate a coming baby or do they foster narcissism?

After announcing their pregnancies with elaborate social media posts and trinkets sent to grandparents, many women proceed to celebrate with a number of interesting observances.

  • The gender reveal party. Gender reveal parties are gatherings where expectant parents reveal the sex of their child to friends and family. These parties often have themes (ties or tutus, trucks or tiaras, etc.) and guests are sometimes asked to dress in pink or blue, indicating if they believe the child will be a girl or boy. The sex is revealed when the expectant parents bite into cake with pink or blue filling, open a box of pink or blue balloons, spray each other with pink or blue silly string, or some similar activity.
  • The sprinkle. Baby sprinkles are small baby showers thrown for second and subsequent pregnancies. They are generally less elaborate than showers and, given many parents already have essential items for a baby, guests are often asked to bring affordable gifts such as wipes or diapers.
  • The sonogram viewing party. Sonogram viewing parties are gatherings where expectant parents invite family and friends to view a live sonogram of their baby. They usually serve refreshments and then the guests gather around a screen for a sneak peak at the baby. These parties sometimes coincide with gender reveal parties.
  • The push present. Push presents are gifts given to moms shortly after they’ve given birth. They are viewed as a way for fathers to show love, support, and gratitude for the work moms have done in carrying and delivering their babies. Common gifts include jewelry, new clothes, gift cards, and flowers.

I’d like to don rose-colored glasses and view all of these celebrations as positive. They just show how much our society values babies, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

We can’t look at the high abortion rates, low birth rates, and poor parental leave policies in our country and honestly proclaim that our society values babies. We may value them as individuals and as families, but our society doesn’t.

What these celebrations are is an opportunity for parents to bask in attention. A push present doesn’t celebrate the baby. It “rewards” mom for something I view to be a privilege—being used by God to give life to another human being. A gender reveal party doesn’t really celebrate the baby. After all, attendees are going to cheer regardless of if the cake has pink or blue filling (or at least I’d hope they’d be happy regardless). A sprinkle doesn’t really celebrate the baby. Let’s be honest—the purpose of a sprinkle is to shower (or sprinkle) the parents with gifts, not to sit around and talk about how exciting it is that a baby is on the way.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to engage in these celebrations or that you’re selfish if you’ve had these for your baby. However, I think it’s important for us not to blindly engage in celebrations that our culture says are good. We must closely evaluate the purpose of these celebrations and our motives for engaging in them (1 John 2:16-17).

If you really want to celebrate your baby, invest your effort into becoming a better parent. Consider making a donation in the baby’s name to a charity that helps children. Pray for your child. Mentor kids who don’t have good role models in their homes. These things are a lot more meaningful than a gender reveal piñata filled with pink or blue confetti.

What are your thoughts on these modern pregnancy celebrations?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Motivation Monday, Making Your Home Sing, Essential Fridays, WholeHearted Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Capture Your Journey, Titus 2sday & Titus 2 Tuesday.

Comments

  1. Bravo to you for saying something that is counter-culture. I’m sure that in a society where families are fractured, some of these kinds of parties serve a purpose, avoiding the “how dare you tell your father and step-mother the sex of my grandchild first!” but I pretty much follow your line of thinking. Just as elaborate weddings do not guarantee a solid marriage, these parties do not indicate commitment to good parenting.

    • Hi Joanne,
      You make a good point that something like a gender reveal party can allow parents to share the news with everyone at the same time.
      Your last sentence really sums up what I was trying to communicate. Perhaps instead of putting so much effort and money into welcoming a baby, we should invest this in becoming good parents.

  2. I must agree. I think the “celebrations” surrounding pregnancy/birth and even marriage itself have gone too far. With such elaborate celebrations, it is so sad to see the subsequent toxic family lives and marriage, which may not even last long enough to pay for the celebrations. It is enough to almost make me cynical.

    But, continue to focus on Christ and you will be a light in this dark world. 🙂

    • I do think that many couples deceive themselves into thinking that these sorts of celebrations enrich their marriages and families. In reality, we need to go back to the basics, like spending quality time together, in order to be enriched.

  3. We took no creative pregnancy photos and held no fancy announcements or parties. I was given a baby shower that I greatly appreciated, but I didn’t register anywhere or ask for specific items. We simply basked in the joy of being pregnant and knowing a precious child was coming to our family. My first son was born with a congenital heart condition that required open heart surgery. Believe me, I wasn’t thinking about parties or creative hospital photos. I was praying for his life and giving thanks when his surgery was successful!

    As far as the modern pregnancy traditions, I know that the other thing I can’t stand is the fad of skin tight pregnancy clothing. Gads! I hate seeing pregnant women in what are essentially leotards. Perhaps it is a generational thing.

    • Something like a heart condition will certainly put these other things in perspective!
      I’m not sure what’s so desirable about snug maternity clothing. I feel big enough as it is! No need to emphasize my size with tight clothes. 🙂

  4. THANK YOU. My two children were born in 2004 and 2014, and over that interval the pregnancy-related rituals became noticeably more warped and tasteless. Here’s why we didn’t have a gender reveal party. I did have a shower for each baby, given by the ladies from church, and I enjoyed feeling like an honored guest (I don’t get that experience very often) and feeling that they were all excited about my baby…but I was kind of horrified at the volume of gifts I received this second time; it seems the standard has risen so that everyone gives a bag of multiple items and spends about $50! Yikes! I was so relieved when I realized that the huge box brought by my friend whose kids are between mine in age contained the baby swing I’d given her when my first child outgrew it; giving it back, and coming over with her husband to help us move furniture to prepare for the baby, was her entire gift, and that was just fine.

    • Hi Becca,
      There does seem to be a higher standard for shower gifts these days. It’s almost intimidating to attend a shower because we can’t afford to spend that much on a gift.
      To be honest, the best gift we have received is a big box of hand-me-down clothing. It didn’t cost the gift giver anything (she already had the clothes) and we haven’t had to purchase any clothing through the six month size.

  5. Thank you Shannon for a thought provoking post. Your point on the celebrations being far more about ‘me’ than children is so true in our culture. We seem to seek children to improve our lives, to glorify ourselves when it suits us… rather than to glorify God and cherish His blessings (maybe this is a tangent that I should be avoiding: But does this explain how we view children as a blessing for the first 2-3 boy & girl combo… anything beyond is a nuisance or accident??).
    Anyway… the comment on weddings made by Ginny and others is interesting too. Other cultures (such as the Jewish) would celebrate a wedding for days… yet the celebrations were about family and God (not glitter and pride) and were being made by a culture that acted on their treasuring of the gift of marriage and children: is that the difference?
    Just my 2 bits:)

    • I think the “prefect little family” mentality (parents with one boy and one girl) is a good example of how we are less focused on children being a blessing.
      Your comment about weddings is interesting. Cultures throughout the world celebrate marriage very differently and you’re correct that some are very elaborate. It’s not for me to say what is “right” or “wrong” in regards to a wedding; however, whatever the wedding looks like, I do think that as a general principle it is best to invest more into the marriage than into the wedding itself.

  6. I think you make some good points. Having had all of my children before most of these new traditions really took off, I sometimes feel like they are a little much. I agree with your last paragraph, that sometimes a little more focus on learning to be a better parent would be more useful. Thanks for linking up to Motivational Monday!

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