It’s one of the most inmate moments for moms-to-be — and one that should never be filled with additional stress.
After a story of one mother-in-law’s plea to be part of her grandchild’s delivery went viral, it brings up an important discussion about delivery room etiquette.
In a “Dear Prudie” advice column on Slate, an unnamed mother-in-law was furious she wasn’t invited to witness the birth of her grandchild.
“I’ve felt nothing but heartache since learning I would be banned from the delivery room. [My son] Steven told me I could wait outside and I would be let in after [my daughter-in-law] Julia and the baby are cleaned up and ‘presentable.’ Meanwhile, Julia’s mother will be able to witness our grandchild coming into the world. It is so unfair,” she wrote.
The MIL, who was also a nurse, said she no longer felt valued and could not bring herself together to speak to her daughter-in-law.
“I’m being treated like a second-class grandmother even though I’ve never been anything but supportive and helpful. How can I get them to see how unfair and cruel their decision is?”
Prudie, on the other hand, had very blunt advice.
“[Julia] has every right to plan ahead for just how many people she wants to be in the room for that. This is not about you,” the columnist wrote. “Your daughter-in-law and your son are drawing a totally appropriate boundary, and you need to stop trying to argue with them about it. Frankly, I can see why they don’t want you in the room.”
Social media users react
After seeing Prudie’s response, and the original question, some social media users were outraged by the grandmother’s behaviour.
"I have never been anything but supportive and helpful" ma'am I believe I can think of several things you may also have been
— Cat Manning (@catacalypto) February 6, 2018
I was thinking about this all night and I’m still furious at this mean nurse m-i-l.
— Claire Jarvis (@cejarvis) February 6, 2018
i just… i want to know how she thought that would go.
— clara in 2018 (@clarabellum) February 6, 2018
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I didn't even ask MY OWN MOTHER to be in the room (my husband tried to weasel out of the room for a break by asking if I wanted her to come in, but I'd known him too long for him to get away with it). If anyone had a problem with that, they sure as hell didn't dare tell me.
— Donna Asher (@dasher2581) February 6, 2018
My fiancé has always said he won’t be offended if I say HE can’t be in the delivery room. The woman in labor gets to call the shots. Always.
— Portia Smith (@extra__innings) February 6, 2018
Others shared their own experiences of having their MIL in the room.
My mother in law was in the delivery room with me & my partner, I wanted her there to support my partner more than myself & in the end my partner was that flustered & stressed she cut the cord. I wasn’t too well after so needed her there to be honest.
— Claire Prothero (@ClaireProthero) February 8, 2018
Parenting expert and child psychologist Jillian Roberts of Family Sparks, says this mother-in-law (or anyone else for that matter), shouldn’t feel entitled to attend the delivery.
“The grandmother here is coming from a position of thinking about her wants and needs, and not those of her daughter-in-law,” she tells Global News.
“Giving birth is a time when a woman is at her most vulnerable, and it is imperative that the birth plan be developed with her needs front and foremost. The needs of everyone else are secondary.”
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Roberts adds the situation is an important reminder to establish healthy boundaries and to not be afraid to assert them. “Doing so can create an unhealthy relationship dynamic going forward.”
She adds if you and your partner encounter a similar situation, use the “hamburger strategy” to smooth over the difficult conversation.
“[It’s the]two positives sandwiching the message. Something like, ‘I am truly touched and honoured that you would want to help me during the delivery,'” she continues. “‘This experience, though, will be easiest for me with just my mother and husband in the room. I know that you want the best for me and so will understand and honour my wishes.'”
Roberts adds if there is pushback, let the person know how much you love them, and remind them this birth plan will make the delivery itself easier for you.
“After the baby is born and all is OK and when the medical staff say it is okay, that is when any kind of visitation can be navigated with the mother and partner.”