By The Welcome Baby Care Doulas
We got going about this during Doula Luisa’s belated baby shower yesterday. Even the actual grandmas/mother-in-laws in the room were in agreement that a visiting relative can either be a BIG help or an abrasive hinderance to the peace and success of the new mama’s transition.
It’s OK, Grandmas and Aunties. We completely understand that sometimes common sense goes out the window when you are really close—maybe even too close—to the situation. A nice little exercise would be to put yourself in Mom’s shoes. What would you want while nursing a newborn? And what would drive you nuts?
Here are our rules for in-laws, cousins, neighbors, and grandmas alike. We’ve served as bouncer to well-meaning “helpers” at many a bedroom door. We so appreciate your love, support, and enthusiasm. We believe that you know the rules, but it never hurts to brush up so that you may make your visits with the new mom and baby intentionally restorative.
- Think of houseplants. Food, water, sunshine, and a kind word are said to aid in growth. These simple things can turn brown leaves to blossoms. Mama is your plant. Get to it.
- Before EVERY word you speak to the new mother, ask yourself, “Is this judgmental?” Not sure? Zip it.
- You must never ever ever nap purposefully and excessively while at the home of the new mother.
- Be STRONG in your refusal of New Mom’s offer to cook dinner…no matter how much you love her spinach ravioli. No, no, no.
- No, it is not a good idea for her to go to _____, if only for an hour or two. No Target, no family reunion, no hair appointment. YOU go out if you’re bored. She may actually encourage your outing and relish the space to breathe. She will likely be very happy to see you after you’ve given her the opportunity to miss you a bit. Return with a scrumptious muffin on a pretty little plate…for Mama.
- Mother-in-laws of daughter-in-laws: it may hurt that there is a new “Mom” in the eyes of your son. It may hurt A LOT. Our advice? Back off. Don’t monopolize him. Do not pout. Love HER in the void of whatever you imagine you’ve lost. Cry privately and then tell your daughter-in-law that she’s lovely. She is lovely, and likely quite a bit like you.
- Under your watch, the laundry is always going. Dryer on, new load in, people folding. Round the clock. This means everything to the new mother.
- Think twice and think better of mentioning: your decision to (breast/bottle) feed, your ease with labor, your bounce back to pre-pregnancy weight.
- Mom before baby. Mom before baby. Gosh, we know that you love your grandchild. Mom before baby just after the birth and she will trust you with that child and honor your bond for life.
- Save the drama. Bring laughter instead.
We just think the world of grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles. We understand that this is a big transition for you too. Keep up the rock star support.