Your baby has arrived, and so has the family! So you’re expecting a new baby, and relatives from out of town! To some that may sound like bliss to others chaos. Whether you are closer than peas in a pod to your family or not, having them come for an extended visit coinciding with the arrival of your newborn can be trying. As a Midwife to many expat and urban couples I’ve helped them find the right balance between keeping family happy and focusing on their own needs as a new family as well.
So how do you handle this delicately so everyone ends up happy?
Living abroad or a distance from your family changes the dynamic of visits. Instead of coming for a few hours to help out, visits tend to last at least a week. So before you extend an invitation to have relatives present for the birth or visiting right after, think about the logistics. While it would be great to have an extra hand or two helping out when you get back from hospital it also means a few extra bodies around the house. And during the first few weeks of nighttime feedings, sporadic schedules and the stress of having a new baby, for many it may not be an ideal time. It very much depends on how you feel about it and how comfortable you are with setting boundaries. Weigh the pros and cons, talk things through as a couple and then decide what you think is best for you and your family.
The idea of not having your Mother or other close relative present for the birth of your baby or shortly after may seem inconceivable, especially if you are close. And the idea may be even more ridiculous to your relative. Feelings can get hurt if not handled delicately and thought out beforehand. But there are many legitimate reasons for not wanting family around too soon that have nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. They may include:
If you decide to take a few weeks before opening your doors, make this clear to relatives well before the birth. Best not to spring it on them at the last second leading them to believe they were going to be visiting for the birth all along.
Like I said the right time may be before the birth for some and well after for others. It’s a very individual decision based on individual personalities and situations. However the needs of the new Mama and baby should be put at the forefront. A relative’s demands, or convenient travel times should not trump a Mama’s wishes and needs. She needs time to recover physically and the couple needs to get in a good place mentally. If you feel that having family stay over could help, then go for it. But if the thought makes you feel stressed then I would advise waiting 2-3 weeks. A middle of the road solution, although it can get costly, would be to arrange alternative accommodation. This way you’ll benefit from having the extra help while maintaining your own space.
“I couldn’t bare the idea of not having my Mum around for the birth of my firstborn, but living in Hong Kong in a one bedroom flat didn’t exactly work. Luckily friends were going out of town and offered their flat to my Mum for 2 weeks. It was the best of both worlds really” Nicole Mama to 3-Casey, Erin and Tara.
When the time is right and you do welcome overnight family remember it comes with its benefits as well as its challenges. But there are ways to make it all work for everyone involved. Here are a few tips to make the most of your visitors:
At the end of the day, having family that’s eager to visit and help out is a blessing. Plan ahead, be honest with your needs and open your doors only when you feel ready. Then and only then will you truly enjoy the love and support that family can bring.
I have lots of articles here to help pass on experience and knowledge from my midwifery career. And if there’s something you’d like me to cover then please contact me .
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