How to Set Baby Shower Boundaries—Especially If You’re a People Pleaser

 McKenna Ownby Profile Photo
By McKenna Ownby | Updated on Jun 7, 2024
Image for article How to Set Baby Shower Boundaries—Especially If You’re a People Pleaser

Congratulations! You found out you’re expecting, you’ve shared the news with loved ones, and now you may be wondering when—or if—you should have a baby shower

The more you think about it, the more you may realize how much brain power can go into planning such a special celebration. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The good news is: this is your event, so you get to decide.

Thinking about how you’d like your baby shower to go and sharing your wishes is a great way to ease into setting boundaries with friends and family–an important skill to learn and nurture, since it’s something you’ll do a lot as you navigate motherhood

Personally, I opted to throw my own baby shower at home for a number of reasons. While it’s perfectly normal and common for someone else to organize a shower for the mother-to-be, I (admittedly) have a hard time asking for help. I’m a people pleaser through and through, and at the time, it somehow felt like a burden to place the majority of planning on others who were offering to coordinate things on my behalf. 

Would I have been less stressed if I let a friend or family member do the heavy lifting of tasks like sending out invitations, booking a venue, and setting up my registry? Maybe, but to me, taking the lead was my own way of ensuring I had the oversight I wanted. It was also my first pregnancy, my husband and I weren’t sure if we’d have another baby, and we were fortunate to have people in our lives who were eager to help out during the shower. In the end, I took on the bulk of work for setting up the day and let other people jump in for things like decorating, food prep, and clean up, which felt like a good mix. This was my version of setting a boundary that allowed me to feel more at ease not only at the shower itself, but throughout the process of planning it, too.

If you find that you have a village ready and willing to not only gift the things you need for your baby, but to make sure things run smoothly for you on the day of your shower, this is a fitting opportunity to accept the help. Just remember that you have a choice, and you don’t have to let someone else run the whole show if you don’t feel right about it. 

People Pleasing 101 

First and foremost, let’s talk about what makes someone a people pleaser. People pleasers often think about the feelings of others before themselves. While they mean well, this isn’t always a good thing. According to Psychology Today, people pleasers may not need others to do things for them, but they do feel the need to please others for reasons that may include fear of rejection, insecurities, and wanting to be well-liked.  

If this sounds like you, the thought of a baby shower may spark other feelings of anxiety or hesitancy, like worrying that some of your more opinionated guests could try to interfere and turn the event into something you don’t want. Regardless of what anyone thinks, it’s important to remember that this is a time you are entitled to be a little selfish and put your preferences first. No matter how you plan to celebrate the upcoming arrival of your baby, here are some tips that can help you make the best decision for you.

Tip 1: Set Boundaries Early 

One of the best ways to make your feelings known and respected is to share explicit boundaries ahead of time for anything you feel strongly about. This goes for everything from limiting the number of guests you’ll have to asking that people stick to your registry, to whether or not you want to open gifts or play games during your shower. You can accomplish this by text, email, in person, or even on your physical or digital baby shower invite. Another option is asking someone to help you spread the word about your preferences, if you have a trusted support person.

Tip 2: Let Others Help You Plan Your Baby Shower—or at Least Take on Some Tasks

Katie Ladenburg, LCSW, is a mother of four and has been a therapist for over 18 years. She’s also pro-baby shower, having had one for three of her children. That doesn’t necessarily mean she thinks this is the best choice for everyone, though. She encourages other moms to consider what kind of support they may have—including who, specifically, would be the most reliable person (or people) to lean on—then getting into planning mode. 

“For someone with the personality of a people pleaser, it can be pretty anxiety-inducing to be put in a situation of planning,” she explains. “I’d say figure out who your most trusted people are and let them know what you want to do. Think about how you’d like the day to go and any themes you have in mind, depending on your space. Who can you rely on to help you see that vision through? If you know who can provide that support from the beginning, it can be less stressful knowing they’ll be able to keep things on track for you.”

Tip 3: Stand Your Ground

Once you’ve made up your mind about the things you want (and don’t want) at your shower, try your best to stick to those preferences. Take it from Brooke, a self-proclaimed “recovering people pleaser” who recently shared her experience at her baby shower on TikTok. She was proud of the way she stood up for herself when guests tried to pressure her into doing things she didn’t want to do.

“Long story short, there was a lot of chatter that I wasn’t opening my presents,” she recalls. “I calmly stood up for myself, stood my ground, and set my boundaries. It felt awesome. Yes, part of me is dying inside that those women didn’t feel loved and appreciated, but they will get a thank you card. Life goes on. You can live your life and host your party in whatever type of way [you want].”

If you anticipate that you may experience something similar, Katie encourages “validating the unhelpful helpfulness.” It can be tough to do in the moment, but when done in a caring way, most people will understand.

“People want to be helpful, but sometimes that gets in the way of their original intent to support you. If this happens, you can nicely say something like: ‘Thank you. That's a great suggestion, however, I am going to stick to the plan I made,’" she says.  

Tip 4: Get Creative to Avoid Repetitive Questions and Unsolicited Advice 

Sometimes setting boundaries can be done non-verbally. People love to give expecting parents advice based on their own experiences, but doing so at a baby shower can make things uncomfortable. It can also be exhausting for an expecting mom to answer the same questions over and over for each guest, like due date, gender, and how they’re feeling about becoming a mom.

To spare yourself of the exhaustion and repetition that comes along with these conversations, consider making a board to display answers to commonly asked questions (or delegate this task to a helper). You can also set out a memory book for people who want to write down their individual pieces of advice. That way, you can look back on it later when you have more time to read and appreciate their well-intentioned words, rather than in the moment when your attention is being pulled in all directions.

Tip 5: Do What Makes You Most Comfortable 

There are no rules for baby showers, despite what your great aunt Trudy says. Just like the baby you’re about to birth, there’s no rulebook or instruction manual for how things should go when it comes to your baby shower. Invite as many (or few) people as you feel comfortable with, and try to think about what would make you feel most relaxed as you consider the order of events for the day. 

Kailee has a one-year-old daughter and a newborn. She chose to have a traditional baby shower during her first pregnancy, but for her second time around, she decided a smaller, more intimate gathering was best.

“After the first shower, I remember feeling really overwhelmed and exhausted from having to make sure I said ‘hi’ to all the people who showed up, and feeling like I had to give big, excited reactions for every gift,” she explains. “I was so grateful for all of the gifts from the people around me, but it was a long day at seven months pregnant.”

For her second baby, she had a small spread of brunch food, complete with mocktails and tea. She and her guests were able to sit around a big table and chat as a group while they ate, which put Kailee at ease and helped her connect with each person–more like a baby sprinkle.

“It felt like hanging out and enjoying each other's company rather than a big to-do.

The smaller group felt less pressure to make sure everyone was having a good time because it was less of a party and more sharing a meal to celebrate something exciting.”

A “baby sprinkle” or a “sip and see” can be great options for anyone who feels like they already have most of the items they need, or who would rather save the party for after the baby is born. A baby sprinkle typically celebrates a family’s second (or more) child, has fewer guests and presents, and doesn’t last as long as a baby shower. A sip and see is exactly what it sounds like: it gives family and friends a chance to come over to sip a beverage and see the new baby after they’ve arrived.  

Tip 6: It’s OK to Skip a Baby Shower Altogether 

If this all sounds like too much, that’s OK, and you’re not alone. Plenty of women choose to forego baby showers completely, especially when they have older children. Think of it as another way to set a firm boundary. 

 Brittany, a mom of two, says the decision was easy for her to skip a second baby shower. She has a son and a daughter who are two years apart, and at her son’s baby shower, she felt the boundaries she tried to put in place weren’t followed by some of her guests.  

“I asked that a family member not bring another family member to the shower because my husband and I do not have a relationship with her, but they came anyway,” Brittany recalls. “That experience left a sour taste in our mouths, and I just didn't want to plan something that I knew would give me anxiety again. Parties like that for us people pleasers don’t tend to feel like they’re for us. I know the older generations in our families were bummed that there was no second party to be had, but I just expressed that I was very tired due to having gestational diabetes and a two year old. Everyone else seemed very understanding that we just didn’t have the time or energy.”

If skipping a shower seems like the best choice for you, here are a few words that can be used to communicate your decision depending on the situation, inspired by Brittany:       

  • Because we have an older child, we kept a lot of wonderful things we were gifted from our first baby shower. We will not be having another large gathering this time. If you feel so inclined to gift us something in celebration of baby’s arrival, here is a link to our registry which includes the things we still need.”

  • Planning an in-person party isn’t something I have a desire to do at this point in my pregnancy, but I appreciate your kindness and will let you know if there’s anything we need in the months ahead.

Tip 7: Be Confident in Your Choices 

Decisions about your baby shower should ultimately be made by you and your partner, should you choose to include them in the big day. So, too, are the decisions about what goes on at your baby shower, if you decide to have one.

“It’s a very common thing when you enter into motherhood that you want to make sure everyone else is OK, but the first person you need to make sure is OK is you,” Katie offers as a gentle reminder.

What matters most is that you feel at peace with your decisions, whatever they may be, and feel empowered to communicate anything that’s important to you upfront. Doing so will only help you in the long run.

“I care far more about other people being comfortable and at ease than I do myself, and it’s something I’m working on now that I am a mother,” Brittany shares. “At the end of the day, it’s for your baby, so you should do what you want. It’s a good time to set boundaries as you start your life into parenthood, and will make it easier for you to continue setting those boundaries with people once the baby is here.”

Pregnant woman holding her stomach on a bed with a plant in the background

Want evidence-based health & wellness advice for fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum delivered to your inbox?

Your privacy is important to us. By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Share via
Updated on Jun 7, 2024

Related Articles


Get the Newsletter

Evidence-based health and wellness resources for fertility, pregnancy and postpartum.

Share via

How to Set Baby Shower Boundaries—Especially If You’re a People Pleaser

 McKenna Ownby Profile Photo
By McKenna Ownby | Updated on Jun 7, 2024
Image for article How to Set Baby Shower Boundaries—Especially If You’re a People Pleaser

Congratulations! You found out you’re expecting, you’ve shared the news with loved ones, and now you may be wondering when—or if—you should have a baby shower

The more you think about it, the more you may realize how much brain power can go into planning such a special celebration. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The good news is: this is your event, so you get to decide.

Thinking about how you’d like your baby shower to go and sharing your wishes is a great way to ease into setting boundaries with friends and family–an important skill to learn and nurture, since it’s something you’ll do a lot as you navigate motherhood

Personally, I opted to throw my own baby shower at home for a number of reasons. While it’s perfectly normal and common for someone else to organize a shower for the mother-to-be, I (admittedly) have a hard time asking for help. I’m a people pleaser through and through, and at the time, it somehow felt like a burden to place the majority of planning on others who were offering to coordinate things on my behalf. 

Would I have been less stressed if I let a friend or family member do the heavy lifting of tasks like sending out invitations, booking a venue, and setting up my registry? Maybe, but to me, taking the lead was my own way of ensuring I had the oversight I wanted. It was also my first pregnancy, my husband and I weren’t sure if we’d have another baby, and we were fortunate to have people in our lives who were eager to help out during the shower. In the end, I took on the bulk of work for setting up the day and let other people jump in for things like decorating, food prep, and clean up, which felt like a good mix. This was my version of setting a boundary that allowed me to feel more at ease not only at the shower itself, but throughout the process of planning it, too.

If you find that you have a village ready and willing to not only gift the things you need for your baby, but to make sure things run smoothly for you on the day of your shower, this is a fitting opportunity to accept the help. Just remember that you have a choice, and you don’t have to let someone else run the whole show if you don’t feel right about it. 

People Pleasing 101 

First and foremost, let’s talk about what makes someone a people pleaser. People pleasers often think about the feelings of others before themselves. While they mean well, this isn’t always a good thing. According to Psychology Today, people pleasers may not need others to do things for them, but they do feel the need to please others for reasons that may include fear of rejection, insecurities, and wanting to be well-liked.  

If this sounds like you, the thought of a baby shower may spark other feelings of anxiety or hesitancy, like worrying that some of your more opinionated guests could try to interfere and turn the event into something you don’t want. Regardless of what anyone thinks, it’s important to remember that this is a time you are entitled to be a little selfish and put your preferences first. No matter how you plan to celebrate the upcoming arrival of your baby, here are some tips that can help you make the best decision for you.

Tip 1: Set Boundaries Early 

One of the best ways to make your feelings known and respected is to share explicit boundaries ahead of time for anything you feel strongly about. This goes for everything from limiting the number of guests you’ll have to asking that people stick to your registry, to whether or not you want to open gifts or play games during your shower. You can accomplish this by text, email, in person, or even on your physical or digital baby shower invite. Another option is asking someone to help you spread the word about your preferences, if you have a trusted support person.

Tip 2: Let Others Help You Plan Your Baby Shower—or at Least Take on Some Tasks

Katie Ladenburg, LCSW, is a mother of four and has been a therapist for over 18 years. She’s also pro-baby shower, having had one for three of her children. That doesn’t necessarily mean she thinks this is the best choice for everyone, though. She encourages other moms to consider what kind of support they may have—including who, specifically, would be the most reliable person (or people) to lean on—then getting into planning mode. 

“For someone with the personality of a people pleaser, it can be pretty anxiety-inducing to be put in a situation of planning,” she explains. “I’d say figure out who your most trusted people are and let them know what you want to do. Think about how you’d like the day to go and any themes you have in mind, depending on your space. Who can you rely on to help you see that vision through? If you know who can provide that support from the beginning, it can be less stressful knowing they’ll be able to keep things on track for you.”

Tip 3: Stand Your Ground

Once you’ve made up your mind about the things you want (and don’t want) at your shower, try your best to stick to those preferences. Take it from Brooke, a self-proclaimed “recovering people pleaser” who recently shared her experience at her baby shower on TikTok. She was proud of the way she stood up for herself when guests tried to pressure her into doing things she didn’t want to do.

“Long story short, there was a lot of chatter that I wasn’t opening my presents,” she recalls. “I calmly stood up for myself, stood my ground, and set my boundaries. It felt awesome. Yes, part of me is dying inside that those women didn’t feel loved and appreciated, but they will get a thank you card. Life goes on. You can live your life and host your party in whatever type of way [you want].”

If you anticipate that you may experience something similar, Katie encourages “validating the unhelpful helpfulness.” It can be tough to do in the moment, but when done in a caring way, most people will understand.

“People want to be helpful, but sometimes that gets in the way of their original intent to support you. If this happens, you can nicely say something like: ‘Thank you. That's a great suggestion, however, I am going to stick to the plan I made,’" she says.  

Tip 4: Get Creative to Avoid Repetitive Questions and Unsolicited Advice 

Sometimes setting boundaries can be done non-verbally. People love to give expecting parents advice based on their own experiences, but doing so at a baby shower can make things uncomfortable. It can also be exhausting for an expecting mom to answer the same questions over and over for each guest, like due date, gender, and how they’re feeling about becoming a mom.

To spare yourself of the exhaustion and repetition that comes along with these conversations, consider making a board to display answers to commonly asked questions (or delegate this task to a helper). You can also set out a memory book for people who want to write down their individual pieces of advice. That way, you can look back on it later when you have more time to read and appreciate their well-intentioned words, rather than in the moment when your attention is being pulled in all directions.

Tip 5: Do What Makes You Most Comfortable 

There are no rules for baby showers, despite what your great aunt Trudy says. Just like the baby you’re about to birth, there’s no rulebook or instruction manual for how things should go when it comes to your baby shower. Invite as many (or few) people as you feel comfortable with, and try to think about what would make you feel most relaxed as you consider the order of events for the day. 

Kailee has a one-year-old daughter and a newborn. She chose to have a traditional baby shower during her first pregnancy, but for her second time around, she decided a smaller, more intimate gathering was best.

“After the first shower, I remember feeling really overwhelmed and exhausted from having to make sure I said ‘hi’ to all the people who showed up, and feeling like I had to give big, excited reactions for every gift,” she explains. “I was so grateful for all of the gifts from the people around me, but it was a long day at seven months pregnant.”

For her second baby, she had a small spread of brunch food, complete with mocktails and tea. She and her guests were able to sit around a big table and chat as a group while they ate, which put Kailee at ease and helped her connect with each person–more like a baby sprinkle.

“It felt like hanging out and enjoying each other's company rather than a big to-do.

The smaller group felt less pressure to make sure everyone was having a good time because it was less of a party and more sharing a meal to celebrate something exciting.”

A “baby sprinkle” or a “sip and see” can be great options for anyone who feels like they already have most of the items they need, or who would rather save the party for after the baby is born. A baby sprinkle typically celebrates a family’s second (or more) child, has fewer guests and presents, and doesn’t last as long as a baby shower. A sip and see is exactly what it sounds like: it gives family and friends a chance to come over to sip a beverage and see the new baby after they’ve arrived.  

Tip 6: It’s OK to Skip a Baby Shower Altogether 

If this all sounds like too much, that’s OK, and you’re not alone. Plenty of women choose to forego baby showers completely, especially when they have older children. Think of it as another way to set a firm boundary. 

 Brittany, a mom of two, says the decision was easy for her to skip a second baby shower. She has a son and a daughter who are two years apart, and at her son’s baby shower, she felt the boundaries she tried to put in place weren’t followed by some of her guests.  

“I asked that a family member not bring another family member to the shower because my husband and I do not have a relationship with her, but they came anyway,” Brittany recalls. “That experience left a sour taste in our mouths, and I just didn't want to plan something that I knew would give me anxiety again. Parties like that for us people pleasers don’t tend to feel like they’re for us. I know the older generations in our families were bummed that there was no second party to be had, but I just expressed that I was very tired due to having gestational diabetes and a two year old. Everyone else seemed very understanding that we just didn’t have the time or energy.”

If skipping a shower seems like the best choice for you, here are a few words that can be used to communicate your decision depending on the situation, inspired by Brittany:       

  • Because we have an older child, we kept a lot of wonderful things we were gifted from our first baby shower. We will not be having another large gathering this time. If you feel so inclined to gift us something in celebration of baby’s arrival, here is a link to our registry which includes the things we still need.”

  • Planning an in-person party isn’t something I have a desire to do at this point in my pregnancy, but I appreciate your kindness and will let you know if there’s anything we need in the months ahead.

Tip 7: Be Confident in Your Choices 

Decisions about your baby shower should ultimately be made by you and your partner, should you choose to include them in the big day. So, too, are the decisions about what goes on at your baby shower, if you decide to have one.

“It’s a very common thing when you enter into motherhood that you want to make sure everyone else is OK, but the first person you need to make sure is OK is you,” Katie offers as a gentle reminder.

What matters most is that you feel at peace with your decisions, whatever they may be, and feel empowered to communicate anything that’s important to you upfront. Doing so will only help you in the long run.

“I care far more about other people being comfortable and at ease than I do myself, and it’s something I’m working on now that I am a mother,” Brittany shares. “At the end of the day, it’s for your baby, so you should do what you want. It’s a good time to set boundaries as you start your life into parenthood, and will make it easier for you to continue setting those boundaries with people once the baby is here.”

Pregnant woman holding her stomach on a bed with a plant in the background

Want evidence-based health & wellness advice for fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum delivered to your inbox?

Your privacy is important to us. By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Share via