Birth of a Child and Gifts for New Mothers - Images, History, and Gift-Giving Today

The birth of a child is one of the biggest moments in a person’s life, associated with many traditions, rituals, celebrations, and gifts. Find inspiration in the following paintings of pregnancy and childbirth we include here to highlight the atmosphere of the magical moment. Learn about gifts for new mothers in the past and today. 

Childbirth as a subject in art

From time immemorial, the birth of a child has been a subject favoured by all types of art, from literature, painting, sculpture, and cinematography to photography or music. Draw inspiration from the following paintings.

Desco da parto od Charles of Durazzo (Francesco di Michele) A Birth Scene (Desco da Parte), okolo roku 1410

Desco da parto

In late medieval and early-modern Florence and Sienna, a painted desco da parto (“birth tray” in English) was an important symbolic gift a new mother would receive for successfully giving birth, and would then be hanged on the wall as a painting. The trays first started appearing around 1370, in the generation after the Black Death when the line between life and death was quite vague, even during childbirth.

Desco da Parto by Charles of Durazzo depicts a birth scene, showing care for the child, as well as the arrival of female guests dressed in expensive clothes.

Photo: Mistr Charles of Durazzo (Francesco di Michele), A Birth Scene (Desco da Parte), ca 1410. Courtesy of wikipedia 

Obraz od Pauly Modersohn-Becker. Auto-portrét na šesté svatební výročí, 1906

Modersohn-Becker - 6th Wedding Anniversary 

Over the brief course of her life, the German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907) made thousands of drawings and 750 paintings, posthumously becoming a leading painter of her generation due to her characteristic style. She mostly drew landscapes and portraits, including self-portraits which reflected her personality. She had the habit of likening her own nude body to a “soul laid bare”.

The self-portrait shows her pregnant, though she wasn’t at the time of its making and the painting only captures a vision of what the author would look like if she were actually pregnant.

Photo: Paula Modersohn-Becker. Self-Portrait at 6th Wedding Anniversary, 1906. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Freska Madonna del Parto (okolo roku 1460) od Piero della Francesca

Madonna del Parto

Madonna del Parto is a term denoting Virgin Mary, usually in association with pregnancy and childbirth. 

The Italian Renaissance master Piera della Francesca finished the fresco around 1460. Located in the Museo della Madonna del Parto in Monterchi, Italy, the Madonna is depicted with her hand at the waist to support her pregnant belly, and surrounded by two angels who are holding tent flaps ornamented with images of pomegranates.

Photo: Madonna del Parto (okolo roku 1460) by Piero della Francesca. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Gifts for new mothers, push presents

Childbirth is a magical moment in a person’s life. It comes with much effort and strong emotions. Additionally, it transforms the mother’s life, habits, thoughts, and identity. It’s a topic favoured by artists, a subject of many different traditions and rituals across cultures - not to mention an opportunity to give gifts.

What are push presents?

Push gifts or baby baubles are a loving tribute, a token of appreciation shown to the mother for undergoing the journey of pregnancy and childbirth. Of course, the child is the greatest reward in and of themselves but the gift still celebrates new life and shows appreciation for the new mother.

The origin and history of push presents

The precise origin of push presents isn’t known but they may have been introduced several centuries ago in the United Kingdom, India, or Egypt. The most common push present tended to be jewellery.

To this day, India recognises such ancient traditions and celebrations of pregnancy and birth as the Godh Bharai (literally “fill the lap with abundance”, a traditional “baby shower” held at some point during the pregnancy to welcome the new-born and bless the mother-to-be). Additionally, some Indian families hold a puja after the baby is born (Kuan Poojan or Kua Pujan). Both these traditions include gift-giving.

The name “push present” is new but new mothers have been receiving jewellery in various cultures throughout history - e.g. Marie Louise who was given a diamond necklace by the French emperor Napoleon I Bonaparte on the occasion of the birth of their son Francois in 1811. It was decided little Francois would grow up with his grandfather Francis I of Austria, away from his mother, and in 1832 he died.

Push presents today 

The current popularity of push presents began in the early 21th century and was influenced by the then celebrity culture. But there may be a more rational explanation. Men today are more aware of women and the journey of pregnancy they undergo, and tend to participate more than before. New mothers view gifts as a nice show of appreciation, fully in the line with the event’s significance and the extraordinary effort going into it.

Napoleon’s gift for the birth of his son

A painting by Giovanni Battista Callegari portrays Marie Louise with the diamond necklace Napoleon commissioned from the French jeweller Marie-Étienne Nitot. Niot was Napoleon’s court jeweller and the founder of The House of Chaumet, a brand that has survived to this day. The necklace is a part of the Smithsonian collections of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Painting by Giovanni Battista Callegari, Marie Louise of Austria, duchess of Parma and Piacenza, ca 1835. From the collection Museo Glauco Lombardi in Parma. Courtesy of Wikipedia

GIYOU flowers as original gifts for new mothers

It seems like there are no rules or decorum governing the act of giving push presents; perhaps because such gifts are more intimate and rules are seen as unnecessary. And although we’ve published a separate article containing tips on gifts for new mothers, you’re free to browse and admire our unique GIYOU flowers of silver and gold on your own. They make for a truly impressive, original gifts for new mothers, bringing endless joy and serving as a memento that will be passed down through the generations.