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Help Ashley (38 Weeks Pregnant) Tell Her Mother-in-law She’s Not Invited To Her Home Birth

39 Comments 31 December 2011

*This is loosely based on a true story, but not entirely true, yet altogether realistic. Names have been changed.

Ashley is 38 weeks pregnant with her 4th.

They’re planning a home birth. Yay! Her and her husband can’t wait.

There is a problem – a bit of a sticky situation with mother-in-law.

She wants to attend the home birth, but her and her husband don’t want her there. And they haven’t told her that yet. (and Ashley’s at 38 weeks!)

Keep reading for the details, and hopefully by the end, you can post your comment with advice for how to handle this situation.

Mother-in-law was a labor and delivery nurse for years. She believes she knows everything about anything considered a medical issue. And she thinks birth is a medical issue.

It was tough when Ashley and her husband told Mother-in-law they were having a home birth this time around.

The first thing she did was ask her son why he wasn’t scared.

Then she proceeded to give her son a lesson on how he should/would have to pull the placenta out! Of all things. (weird, eh)

Mother-in-law knows Ashley has a midwife and doula.

There are some unresolved feeling between Mother-in-law and Ashley and her husband (son).

For starters, Ashley can’t understand why Mother-in-law doesn’t want to learn anything about how “normal birth” works.

Mother-in-law had her feelings hurt at Ashley’s last hospital birth, and wound up storming off in a fuss.

It was a weird scene. Mother-in-law actually tied up the OB’s gown and gave him a back rub right before he was to catch Ashley’s baby. They hadn’t even met one another before. Ashley’s husband attempted to gently ask his mom to back off, but she got upset. Mother-in-law defensively stated that she knew what she was doing because she had worked in Labor and Delivery for so many years.

Crazy logic, eh?!

It gets worse…

Mother-in-law has dragged Ashley’s mother into the equation.

Ashley’s mom will be attending the birth at Ashley and her husband’s request. She has been with Ashley for all of her previous three births. Ashley’s mom has had two babies at home, one unassisted.

Mother-in-law has contacted Ashley’s mom, and asked to ride with her to the birth. She has asked repeatedly without a response.

Ashley and her husband have to tell Mother-in-law that they don’t want her there, but how?

Mother-in-law is sensitive, defensive and self centered. She refuses to listen or reason, and surely doesn’t get the hints.

Ashley and her husband fear that she may not even come see the baby afterward if they handle this wrong.

Leave your comment below:

What would you suggest?

How does Ashley and her husband gently let Mother-in-law know she is not invited to the birth, but very welcome baby is born?

Your Comments

39 Comments so far

  1. Chickasmama says:

    I was in this situation. I just did not call MIL until after the birth. She was annoyed and angry but got over it and came to visit straight away.

    • dryad271 says:

      This exactly! You don’t need any more stress at the moment. Trying to “explain” yet again is unnecessary. Just don’t let her know until it’s over!

    • Kristen says:

      THIS!! [I haven't read any other comments yet. lol This is just perfect, in my eyes.]

      We had originally planned to have my sister at our home birth [to be with our older daughter should she need something that we were unable to give her at the time]… we ended up disagreeing on too much. *An important thing to consider when planning a birth is that anyone attending NEEDS to be in line with your birth philosophy*
      Anyway, we didn’t know how to go about telling her so we just didn’t call her until after the birth.
      I’m not sure if she was hurt, she never said anything. But our baby came pretty quickly so maybe she just assumed we didn’t think about it or have time, etc.
      Or if you really want to talk to her beforehand, just tell her, flat out. We love you but you just don’t view birth the way we do so we’ll call you after the baby arrives and can’t wait for you to meet our new arrival. and then just DON’T tell her when you’re in labor so there won’t be any surprises!

      Good luck mama!

    • Teddy says:

      My MIL did the same thing when I had my first son in the hospital. I made it clear to her during my pregnancy that I only wanted my mom and husband in the delivery room because I was very particular about anyone else seeing my ‘business.’ We didn’t call her until after our son was born and, despite me making my wishes very known, she didn’t exactly hide her very negative attitude about the situation. She had really hoped that I would change my mind and let her attend the birth. Everyone noticed how upset she was and I was pretty humiliated by her behavior when that was suppose to be a joyous day. However, we had a nice talk about it afterwards and she even got to attend my second son’s birth, and was one of the few people who supported my decision to give birth naturally without any medication. I also asked her to cut the cord and we’ve become pretty close since. Now, I was lucky to have a MIL who was willing to communicate and work things out. I’m not so sure about your husband’s mother, but as hard as it may be you two should communicate with her and be perfectly honest. Ask her to hear you out before interrupting because you guys want to address something very important. I strongly encourage you not to tip toes or walk on egg shells with her. If she’s mature, she’ll handle it with grace. If not, she’s not even worth the time. I hope things go smoothly for you all either way.. :)

    • Noira says:

      I was going to do this with my last birth, because my mother kept making comments that were ticking me off and making me absolutely not wanting her there, and then accidentally dropped a hint that resulted with my mom realizing I wasn’t intending to invite her.

  2. Heather says:

    I was in the same boat but with my own mother. I just knew i had to stand my ground and told her that i probably wont want anyone there except my hubby and midwife during the birth. Birth is very intimate, just like the was baby was conceived, therefore i just want it to be us. My mother was mad, but what can she do? And dont worry, she will come see baby. Who could resist seeing their grandbaby? you could even just not tell her your in labor and tell her once baby is born.

  3. Katie says:

    What about something like “MIL this is a very special, exciting time for us. We are very glad that you are just as excited. We want to be completely centered on the birth of this baby. We would like to be alone as a family unit in order to have this baby as peacefully as possible. The only people we are going to have there are people who have experience with homebirth. We would love to see you after the baby is born so you can snuggle and love this little treasure. We will let you know when to come over. We want to bond as a family of six first. Thank you for understanding our wishes and respecting them.”

    I wouldn’t leave room for her to question or argue, simply state what is wanted, since it is not MIL’s birth. :) If she is hurt by this, then I would say that is her problem. It stinks that she would throw such a fit that she wouldn’t see the baby but it would be her choice.

  4. jenny says:

    A friend of mine just went through this! The MIL was against a midwife all along. They ended up transferring because MIL was threatening to call an ambulance. Baby was breathing, just not screaming. Not an emergency! I may have to tell my MIL she cannot attend our birth because she is the same way.
    I would just tell her the last experience wasn’t ideal and you prefer just your own mother there, as she has experienced home birth. If she loves her grandchildren, she will visit them after the birth. It may take a few days for her to come around, but she will :) This is YOUR birth! There is no reason you should feel uncomfortable in any way, even if that means making someone else mad. Good luck!

  5. Naomi says:

    Well, I have a hard time answerin’ this one, cause i don’t talk to my MIL and don’t have to worry about it. I would say don’t call her. She will get glad in the same pants she got mad in. -OR- Just be honest with her and damn her feelings on the subject, because its not her baby, its not her birth, and its not the hospital she used to work in, YOU have the right to refuse her being there, and she can just live with that or not see her grandbaby.

    • Christie B says:

      I *love* the saying “she will get glad in the same pants she got mad in.” I’m so glad to have learned it today because I suspect I might be needing it in the near future myself :-)

  6. Lynda says:

    At my last birth, I just didn’t call my mo or MIL until after the birth. Too late then! And the previous comments are true… she WILL come see her grandbaby, trust that! She may be miffed for a bit, but she’ll get over it. So, again, my advice, just don’t call her.

  7. Samantha says:

    This woman does not seem to be very perceptive at taking hints. Therefore a nice sit down talking to is in order, preferably in a public area so she is less defensive.

    To the birth couple, who have been very polite, now is not the time to be passive. This birth is a once in a life time opportunity, no do overs… As you are planning this home birth and have concerns about this womans attitude and behavior, you are fully aware that her energy can influence the outcome for all. I am sure you will be more able to deal with her after a peaceful, personal birth you with both find empowering. DO NOT allow her to control your special moments! Do that hard chat now and you will respect yourselves for it later! :) Much love!

  8. Lenaya says:

    Oh my, tough situation. You definitely must say something and stand your ground. I think the best thing you can do is be gentle but honest, and don’t take responsibility for your MIL’s reaction. She may be hurt or angry or defensive, but she’s a grown woman and if you’ve been clear with her, but from a loving place, then however she responds is her choice. I hope for her sake she can be respectful and learn to let go for the sake of her relationship with your family.

    I would simply say, we understand that you love us and are concerned for us and are doing what you know how to do to protect us, but we have come to this decision as educated and thoughtful parents and it’s important to us to bring this child into the world the way that we see fit.

    An intimate part of the home birth experience is feeling completely safe and supported and all though your intentions may come from a good place, your attitudes toward birth are not in alignment with ours. This process needs full support by all those in attendance.

    I understand that this is probably disappointing for you, but our decision is firm. We so look forward to sharing our experience with you afterwards and most importantly your new grandbaby.

    ~Best of luck to you!

  9. babz covington says:

    It should have been handled weeks ago as y’all must be feeling now.both you are your husband sit down and word a letter, mention three specific behaviors that were backwards of what you were feeling about your birth. (just three. ) in the sentence,’your basic premise of birth being a situation fraught with danger affects our opposite belief…how?end letter with sentence of we understand your education on this matter gets in the way of newer protocols of birth. assure her you love her, and tell her you will call her after the birth.sign it in a loving matter. keep judgmental out of your voices as you write it. smile as you write the last sentence of love,(for the vibe to be attached to your words).often when someone isn’t listening when you talk to them in person, a letter will get through. they cannot argue with a letter and cannot warp exactly what is being said by how they feel about what is being said. sincerely, babz

  10. Liz Belden Handler says:

    I agree with Babz. A letter is a better way to do this. Your MIL is determined NOT to understand, so talking to her isn’t going to accomplish anything. She will not be able to hear what you are saying, because she already knows it all, and you do not. If you write it down, you can craft the letter to say just what you want to say, how you want to say it.
    Be strong, be calm, and stick to your guns!

  11. magreen says:

    Why, oh why, do people pitter patter around what they want and need? Best approach – POINT BLANK. No hard feelings – if there are – it’s on MIL and how selfish would that be?! “We’ll call and let you know when labor has begun, but it’s private. Part of the reason we are home birthing this time around is for the intimacy factor and we don’t want a lot of bystanders.” It doesn’t need to be an “issue” about why MIL isn’t welcomed. I’m amazed by how many women welcome their MIL into their births, hospitals, home, or whatever. MY MOM wiped my butt and raised me, but not wanting to be vulnerable to the watchful eyes of my husbands mother – seems pretty normal to me.

  12. Diana J. says:

    I would suggest two things: (1) a friendly, positive email, letting her know in a kind way that you want to keep it just hubby and self (or whatever). Begin and end positively (we appreciate you! we can’t wait for you to meet your grandbaby!) and keep it kind. Then, (2) simply DO NOT NOTIFY your MIL that baby is here until baby is here. That eliminates any unpleasant confrontations or arrivals. Definitely don’t cave on this one… things like this tend to get worse rather than better when ignored.

  13. Jaime says:

    I was in a similar situation. I had the baby at home and even though I was in labor for a good twelve hours I told my Mom and a friend that had wanted to be there that it happened lightening fast and was too intense to have time to think about calling anyone.

  14. I agree with both the letter and calling a MIL after they are settled and situated with their new baby. And I also agree that it’s time to stop, as magree said, ‘pitter pattering’ around. A part of parenting is going to bat for your children. This couple did not have a good experience with MIL there last time. She made them uncomfortable and created a stressful environment for Mom which creates a more stressful birth for the baby. They have made the choice to stay home for this birth, and they need to step up as parents and stand up to his mother. They need to be strong and matter of fact – This is what we want, this is why, and yes we love you, and understand these are not your choices or your realm of comfort, but we ask you respect our decision.

  15. L. Parsons says:

    I’m a firm believer in stating your true thoughts in a gentle tone, without pussy-footing around the subject matter. Speak to the woman straightly, and let the chips fall where they may. If the MIL doesn’t want to act like an adult, there is nothing you can do about it. Be kind, but be truthful. You are not in control of how another adult will react, so to spend much time trying to come up with the least explosive way she will react is futile. We have no control over those things in other humans, and focusing on it causes us unnecessary stress. Be kind, strong, stand your ground, its your right.

  16. Tara says:

    I had issues with my own mother not being supportive of my last home birth, but it was out of fear and lack of knowledge, not about thinking she knew everything. The difference is I really wanted her there, but didn’t want it to affect my birth. I just had to get straight with her. Either she support my decision and keep her mouth shut, or she wasn’t invited. She actually read up on it, came to one of my midwife appointments and asked all of her questions, and felt more at ease during labor and delivery time. If it had been my MIL, I admit, I probably would have been much more passive, and just not called until after baby was born. I’m not sure there’s a right way to handle this, I can see the negatives from both sides. There’s really no way of knowing how MIL will react, so it’s up to the parents and what they’re comfortable with doing. If they cannot handle a confrontation, I say wait until Ashley is pushing, then husband can call and say she’s having the baby, and hope that MIL “just misses” the birth. And if not, at least she’s already in the pushing stage and hopefully wouldn’t even notice MIL walk in. I remember being completely oblivious of everyone for the last hour of my labor, and I only pushed for 9 minutes before babe arrived. Good luck with whatever you choose.

  17. Cindy says:

    Parents raise their children to be independent – with roots and wings.
    The roots are in place when you leave, and the wings are there for you to fly to the beat of your own drummer. Fly. She should be proud that you are acting independent. She may not agree to it; however, you are being independent. Parents should just support their childrens’ decisions with UNconditional love. That means whether she is called or not. She’ll get over it, once that baby is here.
    Our energy emanates from us like perfume. If there is an essence of fear in the equation – like MIL’s due to her training, that gets in the way of the loving energy around a home birth. Stand up for baby – that’s why parents are opting for home births. They want a loving birth for their babies rather than a fear ladened birth. Good for them for holding true to their heart wishes.

  18. Cindy B says:

    I agree it’s a touchy situation… we had similar difficulty with both sets of parents because we wanted it to be just us, no parents or in-laws. I feel a lot differently this time around but still not sure who will be invited but have few more weeks to decide (only about 13 weeks right now).

    I don’t know what everyone has advised but whatever you do, IMHO, your husband should do most of the talking. He’s the authority to your MIL, just like if you were in a blended family with children from previously relationships the stepparent doesn’t have as much authority as the actual parent (unless the children are very young or years have passed). Plus, then the backlash doesn’t come on you so much… that’s always been our policy (DH and I). If it’s his parents that need to be advised to back off or chill then he tells them… and if it’s mine then I tell them. We each have a different relationship with our parents than we do with our in-laws.

    The DIL/SIL should never have to look like the “heavy” in the relationship because the MIL/FIL won’t/don’t necessarily respect/respond to that. It ultimately can even make them wonder if their child is being respected in the relationship. It may sound counter-intuitive but it has worked really well for us… so far no one has even really gotten angry over the choices we made (or if they did they kept it to themselves)! Sure they all expressed disappointment about not being invited to our first birth but they got to see our lil one afterward and any disappointment faded.

  19. Holly says:

    My DAD made my first delivery a nightmare.. along with his wife. So when I had my second we simply didn’t call them until a few hours later.. “OOPS Baby came so quick.. didn’t think I was that far along and BOOM, here’s a baby”.. After that they never asked to be at a birth. My MIL was called for me and current hubs first baby’s birth. She was told she had less than an hour (I didn’t want her around for labor).. She took a shower, did her hair, put on her makeup and then got lost on the way to the hospital!! I had warned her SEVERAL times to know the route… So she arrived about ten minutes after he was born. With baby #2 we had her watching baby#1 who was not allowed in the hospital (flu season) so that took care of her then!

  20. Kristi says:

    Ok, I’m in the SAME situation as you, “Ashley” only my hubby WANTS is mother there, and I don’t feel comfortable with her being there. We have already gotten into fights over my not wanting her there. It is our first child, and HER first grandchild, so I understand her wanting to be there. But I only want MY mom, my hubby, my midwife and one of my closest friends to be with me while I make this incredible jouney. But I have not been able to tell her. I’m scared she will be offended, and because she has the same kind of personality as your MIL I am scared she will constantly throw it in my face that I didn’t want her there. SO I will give you the advice I’m taking now.
    Ready?
    I’m not bringing it up, with/to him.(which CAN apply to you, just don’t bring it up to her) Then when I go into labor, I WON’T be calling her until my son is born(probably not until a few hours after) and then tell her that we were to occupied, if she asks why MY mom was there, I’ll just tell her that my mom was already with us…if she gets offended, or mad, and get mean/pissy I will just tell her that if she’s going to act like a 3year old, then she doesn’t have to be around me OR my baby.
    I hope this helps….even if in Only a small way…Knowing that someone else is in the same kind of situation as you find yourself.

  21. Sara says:

    Am I the only one that feels like your husband should be the one to do the talking? It is his mother after all, and I would assume she would take it better coming from him.

    My husband and I have a deal where I handle any problems with my family, and he handles any problems with his. The last thing you need to be stressing about at 38 weeks is talking to your MIL. I think this is a great thing for your husband to handle.

    If he won’t talk to her, then I agree with the people that say not to call her until the baby is here. It’s your birth, so you get to decide who is there.

    • Chara says:

      I completely agree. This isn’t Ashley’s job at all. She’s doing the birthing, so let him tell his mom that she isn’t welcome. No DIL should ever be the one to confront her MIL about anything. Ever. That’s her husband’s job.

  22. Miriam says:

    We had a similar situation with my 1st birth. My MIL worked in L&D and I was not comfortable with her being at the birth, mostly because I just wanted it to be my midwife, my husband and my mother. I had my husband sit down with and very gently, but firmly, explain that we wanted it to be a very small group of people and that we would call her when we went into labor, but she could come and see the baby AFTER she was born. She was upset, mostly because I think she was expecting to be invited, not banned from the birth. But she got over it and eventually even admitted that she planned for a big crowd at one of her births and then ended up kicking everyone out. I think that honesty is the best option here. You don’t want her to be mad at you after the birth if you didn’t call. She’s going to be hurt either way. But your husband should handle this…not you. It’s your job to rest and relax until the baby comes! You don’t need the stress of this!

  23. Annie says:

    I think a letter is kind of risky. While you can take your time and compose your words and have them for her to take her time and ponder in a calm place…you also have a permanent inked document that she *STILL* may perceive as hurtful, even if you thought you were wording it carefully. Gotta have the talk…maybe map out your points on paper ahead and practice/rehearse/decide the MAIN message she needs to hear and don’t end the conversation until you have the sense she gets it, even if you have to say it in 5 different ways. Good luck, hypothetical mama! :)

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  25. Taylor says:

    I don’t have children, but since I want a home birth I’ve often thought of how to handle this very same situation with my family. Anyone not wanted at the birth won’t be told about labor and delivery until after it’s all said and done. Furthermore, I won’t make any phone calls (or allow any phone calls to be made announcing the birth) until after I feel I’ve had adequate time to bond with my husband and our baby as a family. YOUR family (you, your husband, and your children) is what’s most important. Other people (parents, in-laws, etc) are just bystanders in this experience. There is no right and wrong, only what you and your family want. Good luck and congratulations!

  26. Nesha says:

    Now maybe I’m a little on the rude side but technically the MIL took that title when she did attend your previous birth which is when she would have been asked to leave or gotten a peice of my mind when ever I was able. I would have took that as total disrespect which should be brought up during the conversation and to me that is enough of a reason to not want her attending.

  27. Lauren says:

    This really hits home for me. I had a home birth with my daughter two years ago and my mom wanted to be there, but she and I don’t have a good/stress-free relationship and I knew early on that she would not be there…whether I gave birth at a hospital, at home, birth center, car, whatever. From the moment I told her I was planning a home birth all she could manage to say was how dangerous it was and how I didn’t have a clue what that pain would be like and that I would need the drugs…you know ‘REAL’ supportive talk…lol.

    I never really told her she wasn’t invited, she assumed she was and when I look surprised and told her that she wasn’t she stormed off and didn’t talk to me for a week. Oh well.

    She is not supportive to me and she is still mad about it. And you know what, it is sad that that only thing she could think about was how SHE felt rather than supporting me and what I needed at that time. I was the one giving birth. I had two extremely close and supportive friends with me along with my midwife and doula and I felt relaxed, calm, protected and supported. I never regretted not having her there.

    My advice, don’t even give it a second thought. I would have your husband or someone call to tell her that the baby has been born, but not before. That way she doesn’t show up, call or otherwise bother you or your husband.

    You don’t need anyone around you during birth to be a source of negativity. You don’t have to justify to anyone why they are not invited, it’s not a matinee show!

  28. Lisa says:

    I had a somewhat similar situation this past summer: I was expecting my seventh child, and it would be my third home birth. Home birth is interesting in that people seem to get weird ideas about the birthing mother WANTING an audience. I’ve had friends ask me if they could come watch me give birth just because I’m doing it at home, so I must not value privacy or anything . . . ?? I don’t know. Anyway, this last pregnancy, a very good friend of mine decided all on her own that she was going to be here for the birth. I love her, but didn’t at all feel it her place to decide this. She never even asked me how I felt about it. What really irked me, and made the whole thing awkward, was that she told my kids that she would be here to hang out with them and look out for them while Mom was having the baby (so, I guess she didn’t necessarily plan on witnessing the actual birth, but she still invited herself into the “inner circle” which I felt crossed a line – it just wasn’t her place to do so). I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want her here (like I said, I love her, but her personality, her presence, just wasn’t going to be helpful to me while laboring and birthing, of this I was sure), but I also couldn’t stomach a confrontation. So when it came right down to it, when I went into labor and it became clear that the birth was imminent, we just didn’t call her to alert her. I figured I could just tell her afterwards that it went so fast that I didn’t have a chance to call her (which ended up being true, actually – but I would not have been above lying to her about it had I needed to).

    Nobody who is giving birth wants to hurt anyone else’s feelings, but YOU are priority here. Frankly, everyone else should be looking out for YOUR feelings, and doing whatever they can to make it easier for you. Unfortunately, not everyone is that selfless or considerate or clued in. So if you have to lie and say your labor just went too quick to allow time for her to be there, so be it, I say.

  29. Angelica says:

    “For starters, Ashley can’t understand why Mother-in-law doesn’t want to learn anything about how “normal birth” works.”

    That’s b/c she thinks that she already knows everything there is to know since she “worked L&D for so many years” – don’t bother trying to explain. It won’t work.

    I’m w/the others that said “Just don’t call until after the baby is born.” Yes, she’ll be upset, but I really don’t think that she’ll not come see the baby – ever. :) She’ll get over it & AFTER the birth would be the time to discuss it if you feel necessary. We had the sticky situation of not wanting *my* mom there – we just never addressed it. There’s no way for her to know you’re in labor unless you (or someone else) tells her. Have a strictly SMALL list of people who will be told – obviously mw & doula & your mom – don’t tell anyone else that you don’t have to. Have the baby, call & tell her & invite her over. Remain happy & excited & don’t play into her negative game – my guess is that it won’t last long. If your mom feels the need to give a response next time she’s asked for a ride – she can simply say “I’m not comfortable with that.” Or even “You’ll have to ask your son.” If she does ask – then I’d put her off with “Mom, we’ll call you when we’re ready.” Repeat that as often as you need to, and don’t offer any more specifics.

    Adults in our lives who act pushy this way need to be handled the same way that we would handle our own children if they were being pushy. We’re polite, loving, but firm – standing our ground with a smile. This is part of “leaving & cleaving” – we’ve LEFT our parents & clung together, and sometimes we have to draw our boundaries rather firmly, but always with love.

  30. Jean says:

    I guess I sound a little mean, but what I want to know is, why do women always feel the need to apologize to people. We are too apologetic. Please women, stop apologizing and stop bragging on your husbands. It is really too much.
    When I was pregnant, I told my husband up front, that I was not having an audience. Only the doctors and nurses. I did not feel the need to apologize to him or his parents. There is no need for a discussion because, when it all boils down to it, I as the woman and the one giving birth, still do not want anyone to see my breasts and my va ja jay, and will not change my mind. And I don’t believe we ought to tell a woman that it’s his baby too. That is so rude and mean.
    When a woman gives birth, everything is exposed therefore, we have total rights to wanting privacy. Do you think you all’s husbands would allow their in laws to come in and watch his genitals, when he has his vasectomy done?


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