We baby boomers may not know all the latest ways to celebrate one of the most miraculous stages of the cycle of life–the birth of a baby. Over the course of the past year, I have enjoyed learning about the 21st century style of celebration of birth. Babymoons, doulas, push presents and placenta pills are now part of my vocabulary.
Take the term “babymoon”. At first I thought maybe this referred to the new moon, a baby’s bottom, or a children’s book, like “Goodnight Moon”. Wrong. A babymoon is like a honeymoon, a vacation taken by the expecting couple to enjoy one last trip without a newborn baby–a romantic odyssey. Baby paraphernalia, crying, sleeplessness, and all that good stuff is set aside for future vacations.
Next, is the “doula”: women who provide emotional support and advice especially during the first pregnancy, to encourage and guide through the often-frightening process of pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. Doulas recognize that pregnancy is not solely a biological stage on the cycle of life, but an intensely emotional free-falling dive if not gently steered and supported. While I have known of the medical professional,–the midwife who can assist with labor and delivery– the doula reassures young pregnant women who have many pressures on them both at work and at home.
Baby showers need no explanation. But the term “push present” (aka “push gift” or “baby bauble”) was new for me. The push present is a birth token from the new father, perhaps reminding him that labor pains are no picnic and he better remember that. As recognition of the young mother’s journey into motherhood, the push present symbolizes perhaps the most dramatic change in an adult’s life… for both parents.
Perhaps the most familiar but also the most surprising of all the new wonders of celebrating a baby’s arrival is placenta pills or “placenta encapsulation“, the trend of drying the placenta and then having it ground into a powder and packaged into capsules. These placenta pills are thought to improve postpartum recovery, relieve anxiety and depression, provide nutrition, and even assist in breastfeeding. But, you need a cooler or the hospital won’t give you the material to take to the doula or another pill packager. (There are many advertised online in San Francisco).
These are wonderful new and old ways reintroduced into the celebration of life! I learned about the creative alchemy used to reaffirm the accomplishment of childbirth, but the miracle of birth remains the same. While each generation reinterprets how they want to bring a child into the world, the emerging baby is still the most exciting part of the experience.