If you're pregnant, the coronavirus outbreak likely has you questioning your baby shower. Now that the pandemic has required everyone to practice “social distancing,” and the NHS suggests cancelling events of more than 10 people, you may be scrambling to figure out what you should do instead.

But that doesn’t mean your baby shower can’t happen at all: Many mums-to-be are now planning virtual baby showers in lieu of in-person gatherings. Yes, that basically means everyone meets up over their computers or smartphones. While it may be logistically different, the intent is the same: to celebrate you and babe. Virtual belly rubs it is!

Although more pregnant women will be hosting online baby showers due to the coronavirus outbreak, the concept isn't new. Many mums-to-be already have virtual showers in order to connect with family and friends around the country or world who can't make it to their scheduled event.

“The key advantage to a virtual event is that no one has to travel, a bigger group can be invited and it’s much less expensive compared to [an in-person] event,” says Kurt Perschke, owner of Webbabyshower.com, a program that helps plan virtual showers.

How do virtual baby showers work?

Well, virtual baby showers won’t center around food, though attendees are certainly welcome to make up a plate and eat at their leisure. What will happen is that everyone will log in at the appointed time to celebrate you and baby from afar.

Choose an online "venue." First, decide on a site that everyone can connect into for a live video chat, such as SkypeGoogle Hangouts or Zoom. Some loved ones may not be tech-savvy, so it's smart to test it ahead of time to work out any potential problems. Stick with something that you find easy to use, and one you’re fairly confident that, say, your elderly grandma will be able to work. 

Appoint someone to send out the invites. That can be you! There’s a different set of etiquette at play with virtual baby showers, and it’s totally acceptable to take ownership over your experience and throw one yourself. To keep with the virtual theme, consider sending e-vites, such as from Paperless Post or Minted.

Set up a registry. Many mums-to-be already prefer online baby registries. If you don't have one yet, browse the best online baby registries and review our baby registry checklist to make sure you have everything you'll need once baby arrives.

Decorate the space. This one is obviously optional, but it might help you feel festive to put up a few decorations in the area where you'll be hosting the live video chat. 

Plan games and activities. There are tons of games that you can play in the virtual version just as you would do during an in-person shower. Google is the best to browse for the most suitable games for you.

Open gifts. As for presents, you can choose what you’d like to do. There are a few options: Your relatives and friends can open up the gifts they “brought” to the party (and then post them to you later) or they can send gifts ahead of time for you to open on the video chat. Some mums want to open presents over live video, but others don’t want to focus on that. A virtual shower is much more flexible than a traditional one.

Above all, see the fun in the new experience. Having to cancel your baby shower is understandably frustrating. But the need for a Plan B may actually be a great opportunity: My advice is to embrace everything that’s possible with a virtual shower. It’s different, but it can be an amazing experience. Visit whattoexpect.com/news for the latest updates on COVID-19 as it relates to pregnancy and babies

You can also join my Facebook group for additional support and just for fun: Pregnant during the Covid-19: York and Surrounding Areas Support Group

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