Once you get beyond the initial shock of getting a positive pregnancy test, you’ll start to settle into the idea of becoming a parent.

As the doctor appointments and ultrasounds come and go, it will all begin to feel more real. Soon, you’re going to bring a baby home.

Babies don’t need a lot of stuff in the early days, but there are a number of items that can make life with a newborn much easier. Registering for gifts you’ll receive at your shower can ease some of the financial burden.

Here’s how to decide when you should have your baby shower.

Timing

The date of your baby shower is a personal decision. Some couples may not want to have the shower until after the baby is born. Others prefer to have it right away.

Take any personal, religious, or cultural traditions into consideration before setting a date. That being said, most showers are held in the last two months of pregnancy.

Why does this timing work out well? For one, you’re out of the riskiest part of your pregnancy in the third trimester. That means your chance of miscarriage is greatly reduced.

Knowing the sex of the baby, typically discovered at an ultrasound between weeks 18 and 20, is also important. It might influence your registry decisions.

Special Situations

While most couples schedule the shower later in the pregnancy, there are a number of situations you might encounter that would push your baby shower earlier or later.

High Risk

Are you at risk of preterm labor? Have you had any issues in your pregnancy that suggest you might be placed on bed rest or have other restrictions? If so, you may want to schedule your baby shower earlier, or wait until after your baby’s arrival.

Multiples

If you’re having twins or other multiples, you may deliver much earlier than your due date. Women carrying twins are six times more likely to deliver multiples before week 37 than women carrying just one child.

Culture or Religion

Some women might shy away from having a shower before the baby is born out of religious or cultural traditions. For example, Jewish law doesn’t prohibit couples from having baby showers. But some Jewish couples consider it taboo to buy baby gear, clothing, or to decorate the nursery before the baby is born.

Bed Rest

If you’ve been put on bed rest at home or in the hospital, your shower situation might change entirely. You may still be able to lay low and put your feet up while having some close friends and family come to your home. Haven’t registered yet? Many stores offer virtual registries where you can browse and add items from your own living room.

The good news is that no matter what happens, you really can have a shower whenever and wherever. Even the best plans sometimes need to be modified due to unexpected situations. There are websites like Web Baby Shower that help you host a virtual shower with friends and family from across the globe.

Registering

You may choose to register for your baby shower at a local store or online. Look on Amazon for a list of the 100 most popular items to register for.

Try not to get sucked into all the extras. Instead, stick with the basics. If you plan to have more children, you might want to go with gender neutral themes for some of the bigger ticket items like strollers, car seats, crib bedding, and more.

Try to make your registry about your family and lifestyle. What works for some families may not work for others. If you don’t receive everything on your list, you may want to wait until after the baby is born to see if you need it. From there, you can check around secondhand shops and yard sales for gently used items.

Subsequent Pregnancy Showers

Should you have a shower if it’s your second or third pregnancy? There’s really no right or wrong answer to this question. Your family, friends, and coworkers may go ahead and plan a shower for you. As far as planning one yourself, you may want to consider if you need much to begin with.

If you’ve had a significant amount of time between your pregnancies, there are certainly items you may need. Gear like car seats and cribs can deteriorate and even expire with age. Before pulling everything out from storage, check recalls and current safety regulations. Keep a list of things to buy new.

If you’d like to have a baby shower to celebrate your newest bundle of joy, plan a smaller gathering. Consider a “sprinkle” versus a large party. A sprinkle is a light shower where guests may bring a few necessities (diapers, bottles, and more) and turn more of the focus toward honoring the addition to the family.

The Takeaway

A baby shower is a wonderful way to celebrate your baby-to-be. It can also ease the financial burden of all those “must-have” baby items.

Don’t get too bogged down planning and preparing for a big party late in your pregnancy. In the end, your baby doesn’t need that much stuff. Take care of yourself and enjoy your special day.

Wondering who should plan your baby shower? Learn more about shower etiquette here.