Our first grandchild is due in a few weeks. Several well-meaning friends have been curious if I’ll be in the delivery room when the baby arrives.
My reaction is a resounding “No!” My son and daughter-in-law have not invited me to be present. Even if they had, I would encourage them to rethink their decision. I firmly believe the birth of a child is the ultimate intimate moment for a couple to share. It’s their time to focus on each other and the tiny miracle they’ve created. Anyone else can be a potential intruder.
In the event there are complications, the birth couple needs to be free to address medical issues without having to consider family members’ feelings or input.
The delivery room is also no place for added drama or stress. The laboring woman has enough to do besides worrying if she has hurt someone’s feelings by being insensitive or if family members are getting antsy.
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I recognize some couples have vastly different viewpoints. I’ve spoken with women who said they loved having parents and in-laws witness their grandchildren’s arrivals. Others have relished the festive presence of extended family and friends.
There also may be times when grandparents are a real necessity. For instance, if Dad’s out of the picture, on active duty or otherwise unable to attend, they can serve as labor coaches, cheerleaders and nurse maids. In addition, they may have a particular skill or profession, such as obstetric nurse.
My advice to future grandparents: This is not your day. Allow the parents to call all the shots. Wait in the background until you’re invited in. You’ll get to hold that new baby soon enough. I promise.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com.
Further suggestions for grandparents-to-be:
- Offer to help the expecting couple in any way they want. Then drop the subject. They’ll tell you when they need you.
- Don’t ask to be in the delivery room. And certainly don’t just show up. Your actions will be rude and invasive.
- Don’t get your feelings hurt. Your daughter or daughter-in-law will have her own expectations for how the delivery and postpartum experience will play out. Those viewpoints may not jibe with yours. Don’t get huffy. Graciously smile and do what she says.
- Clarify your roles. If you are invited into the delivery room, ask what you can do to help. The couple may have a specific use for you.
- Recognize that mothers-in-law aren’t top priority. It’s not your daughter giving birth. Don’t be offended if her mother is in the delivery room and you aren’t. You’re important in other ways.
- Check with the mother-to-be. Dad may say you’re invited. But his opinion isn’t the final word. Always talk to Mom before proceeding.