Grandmother and newborn babyHaving a baby is a very big deal. The joy and excitement mount as delivery day approaches and the anticipation is felt far and wide. Many grandparents expect to be an active participant in the birth and care of a newborn, but how soon, how much, and for how long can be touchy subjects. Here are some pros and cons of having grandparents visiting at baby’s birth that were gleaned from a publicly posted online chat of the Berkeley Parents Network of California.

Pros

  • An extra set of experienced hands can be very handy.
  • Someone else can do the laundry, cooking, and house cleaning while mom heals and bonds with the baby.
  • Frees up time for dad to bond with his new baby.
  • Frees up time to bond as parents; can strengthen the union.
  • In-house sitter for older siblings.
  • Sleep can be more restful, healing easier knowing there’s someone who cares ready to tend to the baby.
  • When all goes well, it's a great way to strengthen multi-generational family bonds.

Cons

  • Too many eyes and ears in the delivery room.
  • Not enough room to accommodate long-term guests.
  • Hosting is a big challenge with a new baby in tow.
  • New mothers may prefer more privacy than house guests allow.
  • The promise of help can quickly become a demand to be entertained.
  • Miscommunications and no statement of expectation can create friction.
  • Postpartum depression can seem worse when company is in the house.
  • Hormone-fueled emotions can be extreme and unpredictable.
  • Too much company / attention can be stressful for the baby.

A very common theme in this discussion is that truly helpful grandparents - or any other visitors - are there to help you, new mom and dad. Your focus should be on the baby, their focus should be on helping you. Demand this division of duties for the most pleasant outcome.

Extended families today are often separated by great distances, making longer visits more realistic than daily drop-ins. Family and in-law relationships vary widely and will affect the experience. Customs and expectations vary across generations, cultures, and individuals so know the only rules that matter are your own.

For the best success, discuss “grandma time” well in advance of the due date and establish a clear set of expectations, responsibilities, chores, and schedules so everyone will know what is and is not expected of them should a long-term helpful visit be inevitable.

There are no rules except the rules you make for yourself. Make them and stick to them without guilt. Do, however, remain open to the possibility that even the best-laid plans may need tweaking once the realities of life with a newborn baby unfold.

Source: “Grandparents visiting at baby’s birth.” Berkeley Parents Network. n.d. Web. Jan 15, 2014.