'Push Presents' for Moms: When New Baby's Not Enough of a Gift

Mothers today are expecting new bling to accompany their new babies.

July 11, 2011, 12:36 PM

July 12, 2008 -- When 34-year-old Viki Steinberg gave birth to her first child four years ago after hours of labor, she showed off more than her newborn son to family and friends.

There was also a diamond tennis bracelet Steinberg wore on her wrist, a $7,000 gift from husband Ira that garnered just as many ooh's and aah's as the couple's tiniest new addition.

"The birthing process isn't an easy process," Ira Steinberg said of why his wife deserved a gift of diamonds for a baby. "There's nine months of lots of sickness and sleepless nights. It's a reward for going through that process."

Gone are the hugs, kisses and maybe a simple bouquet of flowers that a woman used to receive for bringing new life into the world.

In demand now are fancy jewels, a luxury car or the promise of an exotic trip to reward new mothers for all the pushing done in the delivery room, and the nine months before.

"It has been very popular and continues to be," Tom Burstein, vice president of U.S. retail and estate jewelry for jeweler-to-the-stars Harry Winston, said of the gifting trend. "It marks one of the most significant milestones in couples' lives."

Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe received one of these "push presents" to mark the birth of her baby boy in March. To celebrate, husband Rodger Berman gave her a Neil Lane 10-carat diamond ring that cost $250,000.

Mariah Carey got a push present, too; a $12,000 pink diamond and sapphire necklace from husband, entertainer Nick Cannon when she gave birth to their twins, Moroccan and Monroe, in April.

"There's symbolism in terms of color," Burstein said of the kind of baby bling demand he sees in Winston's U.S. stores. "Often if it's a baby girl, it'll be a pink stone or, if it's a baby boy, maybe a traditional sapphire of blue."

The importance of marking such a monumental event is what drove Viki Steinberg to want something more than just a pat-on-the-back, something that she could hold on to and remember her son's delivery by.

"It's a timeless life-cycle event," she said. "It is a gift you receive and you pass it on.

"It just enhances the entire experience of giving birth and creating a family>"

As the concept of a "push present" has expanded beyond the realm of Hollywood to become de rigueur in even the most suburban of suburbs, the gift giving has also turned into a case of "keeping up with the Joneses."

"I was probably the last one to have my first child," Steinberg said, referring to her social circle of friends. "So by that point I'd already heard it being passed around. I'd already seen the evidence of my friends' push presents."

While lots of everyday moms such as Steinberg and A-list stars enjoy these perks of childbirth, others find the thought of a "push gift" more materialistic than maternal.

"The problem with push presents sort of implies that the woman is doing all of the work and that the man just pops in and says good job honey, gives a material item and then leaves again," argues Sasha Brown-Worsham, a mother-of-two and blogger with CafeMom. "There's an equality that's missing. A man doesn't get a present for doing his part of the baby making."

Even Steinberg's husband, Ira, wasn't sure what to think when his wife first hinted that she would want more than just flowers after she gave birth to their son.

"I didn't really know what she was talking about," he said. "To be honest, I'd kind of heard about it but I wasn't really sure."

It's the Thought That Counts

If an expectant mother, or her anxious husband, can step away from the jewelry on display at places such as Harry Winston to see the big picture, the real goal behind a delivery gift, family experts, and even "push present" receivers, agree, is the thought behind it.

"I believe that each couple, each family is unique and it's about whatever it is that works within your family situation," Viki Steinberg said. "If your husband can give you your favorite meal after you give birth or bring you home and have set up the home for your family, it's about the symbolism."

"Whatever it is that's your epitome of a push present would be perfect for your individual family."

For Brown-Warsham, she thinks a gift for both her and husband would be more appropriate.

"I view it as something that you do together," she said. "There's sacrifice for the man during the pregnancy too."

For Steinberg, now expecting their second child, jewels and baubles continue to be the "epitome" of the push for her family.

"I'd like to continue the stones around my finger to complete the ring and to complete my family," she said, well within earshot of her husband.