So you're going to be a grandparent: 5 ways to be a helpful part of it all!
I had an expectant grandmother say to me recently,
" This is honestly more exciting than expecting your first child. Because the stress is taken out of it. You have no worries. You know this little baby is coming into the world and going to be looked after by incredible people and be surrounded by so much love"
It was that moment that I really took a step back to think about it from their point of view. I get it. I understand you are excited!
As a doula, I get to witness these moments;
The first moment a mother looks in their child's eyes.
The moment a mother looks at her partner as a parent.
The moment a husband is overcome with relief and love, that his baby, and the mother of the baby are perfectly ok after hours of labour.
And the moment people become grandparents and see their grand babies for the first time.
Its truly, and utterly magical. I don't take it for granted, and I try to step aside when these moments are happening to give everyone their space. But all of this being said, I beg of you grandparents: Unless you are asked to be in the delivery room,
DON'T wait at the hospital.
I am giving all of my clients this little talk in our prenatal intake. You need to have a discussion with your parents before the big day about your expectations for them.
The LAST thing any grand parent should do is be at the hospital before the baby is born.
For 3 Reasons:
1: Birth is UNPREDICTABLE. Myself, the OB, the Midwife. We have NO idea how long this is going to take. Literally. Whether we get to the hospital at 2cm, or 8cm. I can't predict it. It could be hours, days! Even in a perfect situation, non high risk birth, once the baby is born it will still be a couple of hours before Mom and baby are ready for visitors. God forbid something unexpected, scary, or tragic happens. Mom and Dad will have enough to worry about in that situation. They don't need to worry about how they are going to tell the people in the waiting room. They will need time, and space to take in what has happened.
People also get worried when birth is long. They have an expectation in their mind how long it should take, and when it takes longer they get worried, and scared, and parents don't need to be managing other peoples feelings in those moments.
2. Hospitals are not awesome places to hang out. The food is sub par, and there are germs no matter how much hand sanitizer you use. The chairs are uncomfortable, and now some hospitals aren't even putting in waiting rooms. They don't want you to wait there either!!
3. When people are waiting in the waiting room, they also expect updates. Updates that the parents shouldn't have to worry about doing. When there is a mom who is making informed decisions about interventions, the last thing she needs is any outside stress worrying about entertaining, or getting the baby out to appease the people waiting. Also mostly every mom I speak to, one thing she lists as something she DOES NOT want in her birth, is her husband on his cell phone. We have enough technology invading every minute of our lives. Lets let birth be sacred. The reality of it is, you aren't entitled to information during the birth. The baby will be there when it gets there.
Here are 5 things you CAN do to help out, and be a part of your grandchild arriving.
1: Go to their home. Clean, fold laundry, prepare food. And wait patiently. TRUST. They will let you know when baby has arrived, and you will get there at the same time you would have been let in to see the baby if you had been in the waiting room the whole time.
2. Get sleep. You heard me. Most births are happening in the middle of the night. I do not advise my clients to call their families and tell them labour has started. Grandparents need to be well rested, and healthy! That way when partners head back to work, and new mama's need some relief you are there, and ready for your newborn cuddles.
3. Offer to run errands! There is always a list of things new parents need in those early days that they may have forgotten! Make yourself available to do some running around to ease their baby moon days.
4. Help with older siblings, or Dogs! Most often grandparents are wanting to wait, especially when its the first grandchild. BUT if its not, this is the perfect opportunity for them to take the older children! Make the days surrounding their brother or sisters arrival special. Its a turbulent time of change for them too and they need to know they can count on you.
5. Listen. Especially as the Mother of the new mother. Birth is often traumatic. Even when it goes according to plan. And part of healing, and moving forward is talking about it. Let mama talk, cry, or just sit in silence with you. Don't offer opinions or advice unless asked. All you need to do is be there.
If you are a couple expecting, Sit down with your families, and let them know your expectations early on in pregnancy.
Communication is key, and when you explain all of this to them, hopefully they will understand and respect your birth process.