Surviving Your Mom's First Postpartum Visit

Managing the Visit

Childbirth can be a time of miracles, and often a grandma will rise to the occasion in ways you never dreamed. However, you have to start with the assumption that she'll be her usual self and arrange the visit to play to her strengths.

The more clearly you make your needs known, the smoother the visit is likely to go. So what is Grandma's job description? One way to approach the visit is to lay out the jobs and match them up to the person. Assume that you will need help with the four basic household tasks: shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry.

Deanna says that when her mother arrived for a one-day visit after the birth of her second son, she knew what her priorities were: "You've got to vacuum this house." But if you know your visitor is just not the type to roll up her sleeves for cleaning or KP duty, maybe Grandma's primary role will be babysitting so you can get some fresh air or go to the bank. More youthful grandmas may love taking the baby for walks and giving you some time at home for some much-needed sleep.

Curiously, experts offer up the same advice for the overbearing mother, like my husband's, and the passive one like mine. Even though they're acting in opposite ways, both women are failing to read your cues, and at heart they may both be struggling with similar conflicts about their usefulness. "Each side needs the same thing, which is direction," says Erica Stoller, a social worker and supervisor in the parent-education program at St. Vincent's Hospital, in New York City.

Lyon concurs. "If Mom is overbearing and involved, I would ask her to do very specific things. Say, 'I really need you to give the baby a bath.'" If you're dealing with a hesitant mother who needs help being drawn in, the same strategy tends to apply. "It's almost like working with children," says Stoller. "You say, 'It would be particularly helpful if you'd hold the baby while I shower,' and then you show her you appreciate it."

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