Right around my expected due date, my mom texted to ask how dilated I was. I nearly choked. For most of my pregnancy, my parents were pretty good about not asking me intrusive questions. I had no idea how dilated I was, and no plans to discuss my cervix with anyone but my midwives (and said so when I texted back). She apologized, and I felt better. Though odd, this question was nothing compared to what I’d heard from other moms I talk to online and elsewhere. Clearly, there are some things every pregnant woman needs her parents to know.
It's understandable that our own parents get excited when they find out they're getting grandchildren. Babies are exciting to everyone, so it only makes sense that they're extra exciting when they're your baby’s babies. However, and sometimes, a few folks can let their grand excitement lead them to some grand social faux pas, often despite their best intentions. I know moms whose parents insist on calling their children “my babies!” despite how it makes them feel, or who insist on being in the room while they give birth, or who persist in telling them what to eat or scolding them for gaining weight. So much nope to go around.
Grandparents, like everyone else, occasionally need to be reminded that a woman’s pregnancy is not a license to comment on her body, or demand to know things about it, or to tell her what to do. A pregnant woman is still in charge of her own body, and she still gets to set her own boundaries around it. To the loving grandparents out there: it may be really hard to contain your excitement or concern, or even to accept that your baby is having a baby. However, this is her thing now, and she needs you to be supportive, not to take charge or butt in where she's not welcomed you.
She Is Pregnant With Your Grandchild…
While holding my son, my mother-in-law once said, “Having a grandbaby is like getting your own baby back for a little bit.” Babies are such a special addition to a family, and it's only natural to be excited to welcome your baby’s baby to the world.
...But This Is Not Your Child Or Your Pregnancy
But it's important to keep the boundaries straight: this is her baby and her pregnancy. She and her chosen care providers are the ones who get to decide how she should take care of herself during the pregnancy, and during labor and birth. She's also the one who gets decide how to raise her child.
Being Supportive Is So Important…
It really does take a village to have and raise a child. Every mom needs the support and help of everyone who cares about her and her baby, because making and raising the next generation is way too big a job to do alone.
...But There's A Difference Between Being Supportive And Being Intrusive
Supporting another person means listening to them and letting them decide what they need from you, not butting in and doing things for and about them without their permission or approval. It also doesn't mean asking overly personal questions, offering unsolicited advice, or sharing horror stories or overly personal anecdotes of your own.
Things Have Changed Since She Was A Baby
We're learning new things about pregnancy, birth, child safety, nutrition, and more every day. So the advice that may have been relevant when she was being born, may not be at all relevant now. Stay up-to-date with what's relevant now, instead of relying solely on what made sense a generation ago.
Unless You're Her Care Provider, Keep Armchair Diagnoses To Yourself
The last thing a pregnant lady needs is yet another person commenting on when they think she'll “pop” (ugh) or scaring her by commenting about what may or may not be wrong with her or her baby based on something they read or heard somewhere. Stuff like that is for her to learn from the actual experts she pays to help take care of her pregnancy, no one else.
Same Goes For Unflattering Opinions About Her Weight Or Any Other Part Of Her Appearance
During pregnancy and any other time, there is so much to talk to a woman about besides what she looks like. There is no reason for anyone to say anything except compliments when it comes to her appearance. Remember the old rule: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Again, she has professionals to help her with any health concerns. No one’s idle comments about her body’s appearance are vital for her health. At best, they're a waste of time. At worst, they're hurtful.
Her Birth Plan Is Her Business…
She can figure out for herself where, with whom, and how she wants to give birth. If she asks for your advice or thoughts, share as much (or as little) as you're comfortable with, without judgment. But otherwise, just be happy for her, and let her know you're there to help however you can.
...And Don't Take It Personally If You're Not Part Of It
Sometimes people want all their friends and family around them while they birth. But most people don't want a crowd; they want some time to bond without other people around. If she decides she doesn't want anyone there until after she's given birth, that's OK. Her birth is about her and her baby, not anyone else. Meet the baby when you're invited, don't stress her out by insisting on being somewhere when you're not wanted.
Let Her Be The One To Make Important Announcements To Your Family, Unless She Says Otherwise
Pregnancy and birth are big events for grandparents, but it's a bigger event for the parents. Let them be the ones to announce the birth (or any difficulties or surprises along the way, unless they specifically ask for your help sharing certain news). Mom’s doing the hard part, so it only makes sense that she should get the joy of spreading good news. No one else should take that from her.