The traditional 'seemantha' has given way to new practices.

From baby moons to push presents The new age rituals of pregnancy
Features Pregnancy Friday, June 23, 2017 - 17:52
Written by  Deepa Harishankar

If you are on social media, you’d know that no pregnancy in the urban, upper class is complete today without baby showers, maternity shoots, baby moons and push presents.

People in this bracket who enter parenthood these days are very well informed about what follows the appearance of two pink lines. The ones who are Googling away, at any rate. There is a lot less apprehension and a lot more planning. From birth classes to baby wearing workshops, nine months are spent gearing up for parenthood and enjoying each moment of it. Much of this, we associated only with the western world until recently.

Maternity shoots

Jayendar Thattai from Give Birth Naturally has been doing maternity shoots in London, Chennai and Bengaluru. He believes that it is a feel good factor for the mother (and father) and very importantly, photos help cherish wonderful memories for a long time. Maternity photos also emphasize that birthing is a wellness and not an illness. He disapproves of calling a pregnant woman a patient as is common in hospitals across the world.

So, how different are his clients around the globe? Indians have their own cultural limitation of doing maternity shoots. Exposing the growing foetus to the camera is seen as inauspicious in several homes in south India. There is always the fear of inviting the evil eye or nazar.

Image courtesy: Oru Photo

So, it’s not uncommon to see couples who do take photos of the bump but don’t share them on social media. There are several families that like to keep the news of pregnancy under wraps before the baby is born. In the West, people celebrate the bump much more and do not attempt to hide it.

Shooting outside in cities like Bengaluru and Chennai is the norm but shooting indoors is the real deal, says Jay. Indoor photography requires a better grasp of lights and camera. Maternity shoot packages come in all budgets depending on the photographer and the requirements. Generally, outdoor shoots are cheaper than indoor shoots. 

Baby Showers

Nirupa Kumar is a stay at home mother in Bengaluru. She’s pregnant with her second child and her sister-in-law turned up at her doorstep one fine weekend and started prepping the house for guests. Her SIL pulled off a wonderful baby shower surprise and Nirupa was truly taken aback. The ‘shower’ in Baby Shower refers to being showered with gifts. What’s not to like about that?

While each state in south India (Mahishmati and Kuntala included, as seen in Devasena’s seemantha) has its own traditional seemantha/valai kaapu/pulikudi/vayattu pongala, baby showers are catching up among urban women. Baby showers are more informal and fun as they are organised by close friends and attendance is restricted to women.

Image courtesy: Screenshot/YouTube

Nirupa is happy that her friends turned up in droves and gifted her diapers, blankets, swaddle wraps, clothes, toys, nursing pillows and maternity wear. There’s no party without cakes. Party organisers in Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad are now adept at making cute diaper cakes. 

Baby Moon

The arrival of a baby signals that there is no time for sleep, vacation, bath, TV, spas and much more. So, a lot of couples plan a vacation during the end of the second trimester. The phase offers relaxation to the anxious couple and also some much needed bonding time. The baby moon is that one last vacation the couple can enjoy without having to lug strollers, rice cookers, baby food jars, soft toys, diapers and much more.

Unlike maternity shoots, push presents and baby showers, the baby moon is strictly for first time parents. Of course, it cannot be called a relaxing vacation when you are pregnant and have to manage an elder child throughout the trip. Unless your older one can stay back with family while you take some much needed time for your own selves!

Couples choose their vacation places with great care because they need some quiet and great health support nearby if the pregnant mother needs medical attention.

Push presents

Push presents are given by the husband or partner to the new mother before or just after the birth of their child.

When one thinks of gifts, jewellery is what comes to our minds first. There is no dearth of jewellery gifts but push presents are very special and more often than not, they are engraved with initials of the parents and the child. Jewellers customise rings and pendants with initials and birth dates to make them memorable.  

The new age parent in the urban, upper class undoubtedly has more disposable income and enthusiasm than the previous generation. So, push presents range from jewellery and vacation to gadgets and spa vouchers. Mothers and fathers turn to photography a little more than usual with the arrival of their bundle of joy. SLRs and phones with great cameras are great ideas for push presents.

Surprisingly, the easiest phase of traveling with a child is with a very small infant. They sleep; they are content with breast milk and do not run amok on streets or demand candy. So, a vacation at a quiet resort is a wonderful push present. A resort that provides trustworthy baby sitters is IT!