A fellow educator wanted to share this message anonymously, and I'm pleased she chose to share it here. I hope this helps to start a productive conversation between grandparents and their expecting children. - Cori Gentry, BBCI
Dear expectant grandparents,
Congratulations! Whether this is your first or fourteenth grandchild, you are no doubt overjoyed to hear that your family is expanding and you are anxious to be helpful and involved. What a special time! Your son(in-law) and daughter(in-law) are certainly thrilled to share this excitement with you. As you anticipate meeting this new sweet little bundle of joy, there will be many opportunities to show your support to the expectant parents. Current research shows that the birth experience has a long lasting impact on families, so please accept these words of advice to help make this exciting time as safe, harmonious and joyful as possible.
Before the Birth
You may notice that the parents of your grandchild are doing research, taking classes and exploring options about pregnancy and birth. They may make decisions for their baby that differ from the decisions that you made for your babies. Please do not take this personally. Each set of parents are entitled to make their own decisions with the information they have. Do not feel obligated to justify your own choices. This is the beauty of raising adults- they get to make these heavy decisions and bear the responsibility for them. If you have questions, ask for reasoning with patience and respect.
The mother may not give birth by the estimated due date. In fact, labor may not begin for days or weeks after the due date. This can be normal and healthy, as the average pregnancy lasts 41 weeks and 1 day. She may be emotional or even feel guilty for making family “wait” longer than expected. Try to alleviate her of any pressure and show patience and understanding.
Ask how you can help and what the parents expect from you when the time for the birth arrives. If they do not ask you to attend the birth, do not take this personally. Birth is a very private and personal event. This does not mean they intend to exclude you, but that their priorities are for privacy and minimal interruption to the birth process. The mother needs to feel uninhibited to follow her instincts, moving and making noises freely. She may be concerned about your comfort level in that setting and needs to avoid being distracted from her goal- birthing her baby! Here are some ideas for other things you can do during the birth:
On the other hand, they may ask you to attend. What an honor! Here are some things you should know to expect:
After the Birth
The moments after the birth will be a flurry of excitement!
In the days and weeks after the birth, it is important for the mother to recover from birth and allow her body time to heal. She should remain in bed for most of the day and should be able to nurse her baby without limitation. This will help establish good milk supply and give the baby a great start nutritionally. She will need help with meals, laundry, errands and other chores. Any help you can offer or organize will be a priceless gifts to the new mama!
As you probably know, each birth and each baby are unique. I hope these tips help you know how to best show love to the new parents and the baby. There is nothing like welcoming a new child into a family. May this birth bring your family happiness and bond you as only a birth can!
~ A mama and childbirth educator
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Infant Sleep for Expecting & New Parents
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