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What is 'usual' etiquette for mums/MILs 'coming to stay to help out' after the birth...?

(52 Posts)
Sunshinecurl Tue 16-Aug-11 09:51:27

I feel that it is a time for me and DP given that it is our first baby but my mum seems to think otherwise. Not only did she assume that she would be there for the birth, she was apparently planning to move in for 2 weeks to 'help out' when I get home from hospital. Is this usual? (I should say that she lives about 1.5 hours away which is manageable on the train in a day...)

Sunshinecurl Tue 16-Aug-11 09:54:06

She is also the type who needs a lot of attention and pampering and is not one for just getting on with things... I would feel as if I had an extra house guest who I had to check on constantly.

BonzaBlue Tue 16-Aug-11 09:55:57

After my first my mum came to stay when DH's paternity leave had ended - so that was about 2 weeks after the birth. She stayed for about a week I think.

After my 2nd - we had moved to another country and luckily I had DS just after christmas so everyone was visiting us anyway - they stayed about a week or 2 after as that was when their hols ended.

And now I am 20wks with DC3 - and in yet another country - not sure if I will have any family with me - except my immediate family !

Good luck with whatever happens!

Sorelip Tue 16-Aug-11 09:58:43

How do you feel about the prospect, OP?

notcitrus Tue 16-Aug-11 09:58:51

It varies hugely, and what is useful varies hugely depending on what your mother/MIL etc are like.
Personally I was over the moon when my mum said "I think I'll be in America when ds is born - you don't mind, do you?" PHEW!

I know several people who have had a day visit as soon as baby is born and then have mum/MIL to stay a couple weeks later, once partner goes back to work - maybe argue that that would be more useful to you?

As it turns out, my mother has been quite good as long as her efforts are channelled into something useful rather than just getting on my wick - so if I say what I really need is some nutritious meals to put in the freezer for easy reheating, and something done in the garden, she will likely turn up with homemade meals (wonderful!) and then potter in the garden, and not so much time for poking me and telling me I'm bringing up my baby wrong!

jamama Tue 16-Aug-11 10:00:11

Sunshine, this is difficult, turning down help seems mean somehow, but couldn't you say that DH will be home on PL for the first two weeks, so you'll have help, you'd like the time just together to get used to the idea of a new baby in the house, and that you'll ask afterwards if you want help?
My mother told me recently that following my birth, my GM and a great aunt turned up to 'help out' and were a royal pain, needing cups of tea and so on constantly, in quite a small house, she was so traumatised by it that she will only come if I specifically ask her smile.

MrsTittleMouse Tue 16-Aug-11 10:01:24

There is no "usual" you should do whatever is best for you and your baby. smile

Having said that, there does seem to be a big generational difference here as the experiences of women now are so different to our Mums.

My Mum: Stayed in hospital for a week after delivering me, being waited on hand foot and finger. She was even given a sleeping tablet after having my (breastfed) brother and he was taken away for the night by the midwives! But when she got home, she was completely on her own as there was no paternity leave and my Dad couldn't afford to take any time off.

Me: Booted out of the hospital ASAP after traumatic delivery, but DH had 2 weeks paternity leave.

So it's understandable that some new grandmothers get their wires crossed, having such different experiences. Your Mum probably had her 3 day blues safely secluded at the hospital away from visitors, but appreciated her own Mum coming around after because otherwise there was no other help. Nowadays we appreciate some time to bond as a new family (new Dads didn't do much when I was born), and would rather have engorged breasts and weeping episodes in private.

ellisbell Tue 16-Aug-11 10:02:58

there is no way I would have allowed my mother/MIL to do this. However if you have a good relationship with either or both or you are terribly houseproud then allow it. You will be exhausted, the baby will probably not sleep, breastfeeding does not always come readily, your health visitor will not bother you as much. If they come make it clear they are there to do the housework/ pamper you and not to get between you, your partner and the baby.

Cattleprod Tue 16-Aug-11 10:08:43

Your mum is going on old fashioned 'etiquette', where it was usual for the baby's dad to not be at the birth, and to return to work straight afterwards.

These days, most dads will be present for the birth and a couple of weeks afterwards on paternity leave, so there is not the same necessity for her to come and stay and 'help out'. Obviously she will want to see her new grandchild (not in the delivery suite unless you are a really close family), but you'll probably find her a lot more helpful when your DP has gone back to work, and you have had a chance to get used to life with your new DC.

Romilly70 Tue 16-Aug-11 10:09:04

OP, you know your mum best, and if you think she will be a hindranc emore than a help then of course let her pop down for the day to see your new baby, but then play it by ear as to when she can come to help, if at all.

My mum thought she knew best when DS was born -her first GC and it was so stressful having her to stay when DS was 5 days old; but i felt obliged as we live abroad.

(In my opinion, the best visitors come for an hour max, don't hog the baby, make their own tea and bring a nice meal for the freezer - but pigs might fly!)

Just go with your instincts and concentrate on bonding with your baby.

TeacupTempest Tue 16-Aug-11 10:10:08

To cut a long story short DH and I are moving into the cottage next door to my parents for 6 months to give birth before we move back to the other end of the country. I am now spending most of my time panicking about this and often end up in tears.......

I can see the benefits of having them close at hand but am all too aware how things could go wrong.

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Tue 16-Aug-11 10:14:05

Why not suggest that she come to stay and help once your dh's leave has finished? That gives you the first two weeks to adjust alone and then you might be more glad of her help when your dh is back at work.

Pudding2be Tue 16-Aug-11 10:15:46

My mum said the same to me, I love her but I couldn't live with her lol

I've put my foot down and said no ( in a nice way, I don't want to upset her) and if I need her I'll ask

She is the type of person to give advice whatever the situation, and would take over looking after the baby, not in a nasty way but wanting to help. Plus this is first GC and she loves babies. If she was around I feel my DP would be pushed out because he would let mum get on with it, as he has no idea how to look after a baby plus he would be to polite to ask my mum if he could feed/bathe/hold LO

My parents also live about an hour away. But you need to do what you think is best for you and your new family, even if your mum is pushed out a little

Sunshinecurl Tue 16-Aug-11 10:16:27

Thank you all so much for the excellent words of wisdom and advice. She is not that old - mid-50s - but it is the first grandchild and, as it transpired this weekend, she assumed that this is what I would need/want etc. The difficulty I have is that she plays the wounded soldier/poor me role very well and is now making this all about her and her feelings when I mildly suggested this weekend that we might want the first few weeks to ourselves to get to know the new baby etc. She is now telling the rest of the family how saddened she is that I don't need her and she is unwanted etc etc all because I said that we would play it by ear and see how things panned out given that none of us know how I will feel after the baby is here and we get home. As much as she claims not to be, she will need babysitting herself - otherwise I will be accused of not making her feel wanted - and it is the last thing I need or want. I feel like running away and hiding, it is stressing me out, I only have 4 weeks left to go and had no idea that families would get so up in your face and involved. Aargh!

Sunshinecurl Tue 16-Aug-11 10:18:08

I should also say that my DP will not have 'leave' in the traditional sense as he works freelance so we are very lucky in that he will be around a lot. Perhaps not so good for my mum as there is no clear demarcation.

Poledra Tue 16-Aug-11 10:19:18

It all depends on your relationship with your mother/MIL. My mum came to stay with us before the births of all 3 DCs (DH cannot drive) then stayed for 2 weeks (along with my dad). They left, and my PILs came for a week. HOWEVER, both my mum and my MIL are the sort of people who Do Not Interfere with a new baby. They did housework, made meals, did the laundry and were generally extremely useful people to have around. Oh, and they entertained/cared for the older DCs for the births of my second and third children. Yes, of course they wanted to cuddle their new grandchild but they didn't see that as their reason for being there - they wanted to make my life easier.

Neither mother even suggested being there for the birth, though.

I will never forget the day 17-day-old DD1 threw up a whole feed all over her pram - I was struggling with bfeeding and had been so happy to get her to take a big feed then up it all came. DH went into practical clean-things-up mode. MIL took the baby, cleaned her face then handed her to me where I was weeping on the sofa and put her arms round us both and cuddled us, saying all sorts of soothing nonsense. If DH and I ever get divorced, I'm keeping his parents in the settlement. grin

TimothyClaypoleLover Tue 16-Aug-11 10:24:35

My mum came to stay for 9 days about a week after birth of DD (DH had week's leave and she came after that). All in all it was good as she was really useful with tips about breastfeeding, was able to look after DD so I could catch up on some sleep and made dinner for us all most nights. However, 9 days was far too long and DH felt very pushed out as my mum was first on hand to deal with DD and he didn't feel like he got a look in. Mum also started to get on our nerves a bit (DH more than me) as she couldn't work our household appliances and messed up the recycling system.

So, it is definitely good to have that back up, particularly with your first born, but with hindsight I probably would have had her staying for 4-5 days rather than 9 days.

mischiefmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 10:32:51

I really think it should be entirely up to you and DP. My mum and my DP have been around four all four DCs births (they each have a role, DP rubs my back, mum does her witchy thing with aromatherapy oils and my dad looks after the other DCs)
My mum has also been around for a couple of days or weeks after the new baby arrives to do exactly what Polera's mum and MiL do. Vital time for me to help Dcs bond with new babe and I get cosseted too grin
DP also LOVES her cooking!
MiL is an entirely different kettle of fish and I keep her at arm's length from my babies until they are a bit more robust (she's useless with newborns!)

davidtennantsmistress Tue 16-Aug-11 10:34:42

my mum was 'allowed' down by XH about 10 days after DS was born - 5 days after I came out of hospital, althou he was home, I NEEDED my mum there as had had a really rough time, I needed her support, she for her part when they did come down did the house work & stopped in a local B&B even though we had a 3 bed for 2 of us there was never any question of them staying with us. XMIL however, came down when DS was 2 weeks old, & we had to make out she was the first to see him, she did a few bits & pieces & made me a cup of tea once or twice, but mostly took DS away from me to 'rest' (erm yes cos tidying up after you is really resting instead of feeding my child!)

mum & dad came back at the end of the week when PIL were there - and tbh I was so greatful for a) the support and b) the rest from doing everything else.

this time around, I live literally 5 minute car ride from mums, so she'll be fighting DP to get in the hospital for a fuss over once the baby's here lol. (not that he'll worry but I know she'll want to come & have a fuss over me for an hour then return back to DS as she's looking after him) DP has 2 weeks off, & I think mum's intending (or we are) intending for DS to stop at their house for a night or two while we get used to the baby. Have agreed with DP that MIL can come down when he's ready for her to (5 hour's away) so I think she'll be down after 2 days or so, i'm hoping it's not as bad again, but if it is DP will need the support from his mum not just mine.

His mum's staying at my mum's house though and she'll be there for about 4-5 days ish - i've no doubts that she'll come over for about 8am and go back there for about 7 ish, but likewise I know both her & my mum will help out with DS & the house & leave DP & I to figure out the baby with food/meals being supplied & the house tidied after us. MIL does have a notion of taking the baby out for the day - i'm thinking the morning with DP only as will be feeding still but we'll play it by ear.

main thing is to do what feels right for you & your family unit.

Sandra2011 Tue 16-Aug-11 10:41:11

Just fearing the moment my MIL gets the idea of helping again.

Last time I had a baby I still had to do everything + serve her.
She cannot cook. Doesn't do laundry or clean.

I hope our au-pair will arrive before our baby does wink

YouDoTheMath Tue 16-Aug-11 10:48:22

It's really up to you.

We were alone for the first week, during which DP took his first week of paternity.

My parents came over every day the following week when my DP went back to work. (They didn't stay overnight - they live an hour away but didn't want to be a nuisance!)

The third week, DP took his second week of paternity, so we spent that together, without anyone else.

ILs only popped over a couple of times, and didn't stay very long.

What you have to watch out for is people's differing idea of "help".

To some people, "help" for a new mother means letting the mother bond with her new baby whilst said visitor does a bit of washing up/laundry/makes tea etc (this is what my mum did, and I was so grateful - it meant I was on top of the housework for when we were on our own again).

Other people, though, think "help" means THEM having the baby, whilst you run around doing all the housework. For various reasons including exhausion, post-birth discomfort and a need to bond with your baby to name a few, that's probably not what you're going to want to be doing in the first few days of your child's life. So just beware of those who think helping is "having a go" with the baby whilst you entertain/pamper them.

Sunshine following on from your other thread about your mum wanting to be in the room at your CS, you've got to have a word.
She sounds like really hard work, and she can't expect you to be running round after her (either now, emotionally, at 8 months pg, or physically after the birth).
My mum can be the same, and I've effectively told her to go take a running jump when it comes to wanting to be there at the birth and stay for three weeks afterwards (mine also lives only 1.5 hours away).
When she had you, she probably stayed in hospital for a week, had 14 mw's running round after her, and got to go to sleep. Unless she's going to do the same for you, then don't let her visit until you're ready.
You're not being selfish. Wanting to get used to being a family of three rather than two, get feeding established, and let yourself heal after your CS isnot a bad thing. Especially as your DP can and is going to be around.
Do you have a sister who can talk to her for you and tell her that her whinging is making you feel bad and anxious and surely she knows that stressing you out when you should be relaxing is a bad thing?
Tip: I got caller ID so I could see when my mum's ringing me, so I only talk to her when I'm feeling strong enough smile

Blu Tue 16-Aug-11 10:53:56

Explain that your DH is a modern man, has been in training as your birth partner and along with the mw, it will be too crowded with any more. Also your DH is taking paternity leave and it's important that you have time as a new family to rest and bond. Invite them for the day as soon as you feel up to it, and invite your Mum to come and help once your DH's paternity leave has finished.

It will be very unfair on your DH if your M is breathing down his neck during paternity leave. There is plenty of time for your M to spend as a gp, it doesn't all have to happen in the first 14 days.

I didn't tell my M I was in labour - I had a long phonecall with her just before I went into transition and didn't tell her!

Just don't tell everyone evertything all the time, it only leads to trouble!

somewherewest Tue 16-Aug-11 12:22:07

Do feel free to say no. My first is due at the end of November and we are going to tactfully explain to both sides that, while a day visit is fine, we really need a few weeks by ourselves to get on top of everything, bond with our baby etc. You and your baby are the priority and your parents / PILs should be reasonable enough to accept that.

somewherewest Tue 16-Aug-11 12:25:18

PS I would also be concerned that a bossy well-intentioned mother or mother-in-law in on the birth and around 24/7 afterwards might marginalise the father.

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