So you have everything prepared for the perfect baby shower. All of the baby shower invitations have been sent out and you have heard from every guest. The food has all been purchased and is just waiting in your refrigerator to be shaped into the perfect dishes for those guests The decorations are lying in wait, the games have all been printed and prepared, and you have prizes for both guests and the mom. You have even hand-made special favors that you can’t wait to give away.

Then the unthinkable happens.

You get a call. The pregnant mom has been put on bed rest. Or maybe she has been hospitalized with a complication. Perhaps she has gone into preterm labor and is now in the NICU with a preemie.

What do you do when your perfect shower has to take a backseat to real life?

The first thing to remember is that the shower is about the parents and the child. Toward that end, lets take a look at what not to do, and what you can do.

What NOT To Do

As tempting as it might be, don’t go on with the shower. The mom might even try to accommodate saying things like “It will be all right” or “But you’ve put so much work into it.” But the fact of the matter is, if the doctor has put your favorite mother-to-be on rest, that’s exactly what she needs to do. A baby shower is stressful, even if it is filled with people who love her.

Don’t try to change locations to make it easier. This means that you can’t move the party to Mom’s house or, heaven forbid, the hospital. No, it isn’t restful to just wheel her down to a party room or have all her friends crowd into her hospital room.

Don’t try to have it without her. Sure, there are situations where having a baby shower with the mom missing is necessary: Maybe she’s back home and her military troop wants to throw a party. Or perhaps she is on a missionary trip. But, for the most part, people want to share the joy and excitement of impending motherhood. It might even make the mom feel worse is she has to watch a video of everyone having fun without her.

Don’t fall into traps that this will “help” her or keep her from feeling bored. Most times, when the doctor puts a woman on bed rest, what she needs most is a little boredom. We live wild and hectic lives. For many this has become normal. But it might not be what’s best for mother or child. Don’t belittle her fears for her baby by saying that everything will be fine. Instead, listen to her, and tell her that you are there to support her and the baby.

Don’t share more than you must with the invited guests. The last thing she needs is to be inundated with dozens of worried calls. In fact, ask the mom what she is comfortable telling people. If you can’t speak to her, check her social media status. Usually, this is a good place to know how much she is sharing with the public.

What To Do

Contact the guests and let them know that the party has been cancelled for the moment. You may or may not want to schedule it for a different date. If the Mom has been put on temporary bed rest, it might be appropriate to simply put the shower off for a week or two. But if the Mom is hospitalized or has a premature baby, it makes sense to put the party off for a while.

Take stock of the food and decorations. While many of your decorations will be fine if they are stored, such a banners, vases and paper decorations, others may not fare so well. Flowers and plants may be past their prime by the time the shower rolls around. But they don’t have to go to waste. You can take the expectant mom a bouquet or two or take a plant to the hospital. The same is true with the food. If your special mom is on bed rest, it might make her life a lot easier to have meals brought to her and her partner. You can turn those supplies for a party of people into several days’ worth of meals for a couple.

Consider talking to the guests about forming a food train to make sure that the parents have meals ready when they need them. This can be especially important if they have had a preterm baby. Parents of preemies spend much of the baby’s first weeks of life going back and forth between home and the hospital. Having healthy meals they simply have to reheat can be a godsend.

In the same vein, talk to the parents about helping with other children or pets. While many baby showers are for women who have had no children, that’s not a rule. Plus, many couples have cats or dogs that will need a little extra attention, especially after those long hours in the hospital.

Finally, consider changing the baby shower from a before to after the birth shower. Many of the gifts won’t be needed until the baby is a little bit older anyway. Plus, the only thing worse than having no baby shower, is having a houseful of gifts with no baby. So if you wait until the baby is healthy enough to attend with Mom, you are assured that won’t happen.

Plus, as an added bonus, you can all get pictures with the special little person who has come into the world.

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