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20th Oct 2021

Apparently “baby stags”, or “dadchelor” parties, are a thing for dads-to-be

Laura Grainger

No offence, but… why, exactly?

For straight couples who choose to have kids, there’s often a sense that the dad doesn’t fully get what the mother’s body goes through during pregnancy.

Around 40 weeks of sharing your body with someone else, changing symptoms including nausea, pain and chronic fatigue, having to be extra mindful of what you eat and drink and so much more.

Then you have the labour itself, which your brain may or may not trick you into forgetting just how painful it is so as not to put you off going through it again on more kids.

And who could forget the bodily and hormonal changes that take ages to regulate after birth? Or the lifetime of, let’s be real, high levels of emotional and physical labour that more-often-than-not disproportionally fall on the mother to provide?

It wouldn’t be a crime to think that fathers often get the long end of the stick when it comes to preparing for parenting or when it comes to parenting itself. That’s why it’s sort of hard to believe that “baby stags” are a thing.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the term “baby stags” refers to some type of young, antlered animal, but the reality is a far less adorable notion. Known as “dadchelor parties” or (disturbingly) “man showers” in the US, “baby stags” are effectively the same idea as a stag do – only they celebrate the last few days of being free from fatherhood as opposed to being free from marriage.

Prenatal parties – such as baby showers or gender reveal parties – have made their way to Irish shores despite being a more American thing, but we’re hoping this one stays firmly in the US.

See, the concept behind both types of prenatal showers is starkly different. While baby showers are often seen as a celebration of the mam-to-be, they are, quite literally, celebrating her impending motherhood – not her as a person. They celebrate all that she is about to become and gain, through baby-themed banners, games and boy-or-girl cupcakes.

baby shower

Baby stags, on the other hand, celebrate everything the dad-to-be fears he’ll lose. Time with the lads, the ability to drink freely without worrying about being a caregiver, spending his money on himself and what he likes.

While this confuses me in the sense that men have traditionally been faced with a lot less sacrifices in parenthood than women have, it actually highlights a major component of what parenthood has historically meant for each gender. Dads still get to be the men that they were before they had kids, while women’s identities become intrinsically linked with their role as a mother.

There’s a reason why baby stags are about male bonding, drinking and enjoying something the dad-to-be likes to do – be it fishing, clubbing, golfing or so on – while baby showers are about cooing over tiny clothes and receiving gifts of not what the mam-to-be likes, but of what the baby will need. Nothing quite showcases the inequities of parenthood like a dad-to-be being thrown a party to get sh**faced at while a mam-to-be sips Nosecco at a shower in which she’s given gifts for their baby.

At these parties, motherhood is sort of viewed as a woman’s becoming, like it’ll “make” her. In contrast, fatherhood is seen as an ending of a life of fun and freedom. Where baby showers celebrate a new life, baby stags mourn an old one.

Not sure which idea pains me more: a dad-to-be getting hot and bothered enough by baby showers to invent dadchelor parties, or the “mommy blogs” encouraging them to provide dads-to-be with attention after “bump” has been hogging it all. Oh, how my heart bleeds.

I don’t mean to be a buzzkill, but the idea that men need some pampering or “me-time” during a time of such a colossal change, pain, discomfort and sacrifice in their partner’s bodies is bizarre to me. If it’s really about impending fatherhood, why not join in the baby shower and celebrate parenthood together as a couple?