Surviving Your Mom's First Postpartum Visit

Should You Invite Them?

The first thing to remember: You are allowed, even encouraged, to be selfish during the first postpartum weeks. You're recovering from the hard work of childbirth, tending to a tyrannically needy little person, and trying to keep a household running, all while under the influence of powerful hormones.

Erica Lyon, an independent maternity educator in New York City, offers this litmus test: "If you have a decent relationship with your mom, it's incredibly valuable to have her there. But if there's any doubt about whether your mom can make it totally about you and the baby, or if you feel she'll boss you around and not give you space to develop your relationship with the baby, don't invite her." You may also want to say no if you don't have a guest room, or any of your parenting plans (i.e., the family bed) are likely to horrify her.

Deanna, of Novi, Michigan, learned the hard way that it was much better for her family to be alone the first week. Her visiting mother-in-law greeted her with a pat on the stomach and the immortal words "you didn't lose much weight," and the visit went downhill from there to the moment when the lentil soup that Grandma insisted on making in the pressure cooker exploded all over the house. "Looking back, I wish I had suggested she come when my son was a few months old, rather than a few days old," says Deanna. "People say you need help right away, but I was on a high and wanted to figure things out for myself. I felt I couldn't with her there."

If the grandmas are far more ready for the visit than you are, you can stall by saying (gently) that you want a little time to get to know the baby and get a rhythm going first. You can say you have an opportunity to hire a great baby nurse or doula. If Grandma lives far away and assumes she will be welcome, suggest a long weekend rather than a full week.

Or consider easing the burden on your household by finding a neighbor that she can stay with, or a bed-and-breakfast. Such a setup may feel alien or insulting to some, but you can point out the very real advantages it offers to her: She can have all the baby time she wants during the day, but still get a good night's sleep.

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