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The Meghan Markle ‘push present’ debate: Necessary or not?

by Jennifer McShane
18th Jun 2019
Meghan Markle

The talk of push presents was in the news recently when Meghan Markle was spotted with new jewellery when she ventured out on one of her first public outings following the birth of baby Archie. A nice idea, or is it something which – even only subtly – adds a thinly veiled layer of pressure when it comes to having children?  

A push present (also known as a push gift, baby mama gift or baby bauble) is traditionally a present a father gives to the mother to mark the occasion of her giving birth to their child. In practice, the present may be given before or after the birth and is perceived by many to be a sweet gesture. Regardless of the term, the gift is no matter how the baby is delivered.

Recent mum Jessica said she was given jewellery after the birth of her baby boy Cathal and said it was unexpected, but appreciated. “I had heard about the idea of the dad giving the mum a small gift following a birth, a lot of my friends spoke about it,” she said. “There was no conversation before, he just surprised me with earrings I had seen – AKA told him straight out that I wanted them as a birthday gift! – a few months before. The fact that he remembered was almost more of a shock than the birth – okay, I’m kidding but I still have a feeling my mum gave him a nudge.”

Personal or pressure?

Following a conversation with a friend, the Galway-based mum pointed out that the idea of a gift received following a birth might be difficult on those, who for example couldn’t have children.

“The concept of give birth, get a gift – other than the baby of course! – is a bit strange to me even though I was happy to receive it. I can see the reasoning behind it in that we’ve just completed this monumental act but I have a friend who sadly can’t have children and I thought of her when I wore the earrings, how would it make women feel if they could never, for whatever reason, receive a push present? What does that signify?”   

Dublin-based mum-of-two Eadaoin dismisses this idea. “Personally, I don’t think that the idea of getting a gift is a way to get something over women who can’t have children,” she said. “Like the birth, it’s something very personal, usually decided on by a couple. There’s nothing to suggest that, even after you have a baby, you have to get one at all.”

“I think push presents are perfectly fine and people should buy according to what they can afford – if they want to,” says mum Niamh. “After carrying a baby for nine months, pushing it out, then probably being its first go-to for the next 20 years, I’m not going to feel guilty, I earned it!”

A quick google of the term means that it’s moving with modern times, with even ‘Push Presents for Dads’ coming up. “There’s no reason it can’t be inclusive,” Niamh continues. “The mum bears the brunt but it takes two – I know a couple who bought each other something as they had been trying for years before they had their daughter.”

But *Sarah who says she has been trying for years to have a child of her own, disagrees on the aspect of it coming without any pressure at all.

“In my particular circle of friends, it was very much a topic of conversation. I get that it’s intended as something lovely and that it’s something the partner wants the mother to have, but as the years went on, something simple just added to my feelings of failure. I couldn’t have children, so I would never be “rewarded” in this way – even as something silly. It sounds really stupid, but I saw it as another thing to beat myself up over. Even if it’s done by one couple over another, there can absolutely be a sense of, sadness – something else you miss out on as a result of not being able to have a baby.

“It’s not even about a gift; that’s secondary, it’s about what such a gift can signify – or not,” she added.

Main photograph: @Cosmopolitan      

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