Managing Other Peoples Expectations

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“I was amazed at the time, how people came and took the baby right from my arms.”

“My mother started calling our baby ‘My Baby’ right from the start, it really upset me.”

“I was surprised at how pushy people were about getting a cuddle from my newborn when I had not slept or eaten in two days.”

“It was my parents and my partner’s mother that made those first three days really difficult.”

“I couldn’t believe how much people wanted from us in those first two days, they made it all about them.”

These are the stories I am hearing from new mothers everywhere.  The horror stories people tell about giving birth are not to do with the pain, or the blood or the vomit, but the hassle and stress that extended family brings to this magical time.

At the moment, I am 33 weeks pregnant and seriously starting to plan our labor and the first couple of days.  What I am finding is that my biggest worry has to do with managing other people’s expectations during that time.  These are the worries that are keeping me up at night.  These are the things I am stressing about the most when I should be the one being taken care of.

So what can I do?  How can I stop people from coming in and taking the baby from my arms for a cuddle?  How can I stop grandparents from sitting around the hospital for 8 hours just staring at my while I shit myself, want to cry and struggle with breastfeeding?

The answer I am getting is the simplest answer but the hardest one to implement.  Communicate!

The answer is to talk as much as possible with the people around you about your wishes for the birth, explain your expectations and be clear about what you expect from them.  Here is the catch.  Easier said than done right.

This is what I did – I sent an email, the same email to everyone that would come to visit in the first few days.  So that everyone had the same information and everyone knew exactly where we stood.

EXAMPLE OF THE EMAIL I SENT TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY BEFORE THE BIRTH

Hi Everyone,

Recommended by the midwives at our parent class that we send around a little email to all the important people in our lives who will be visiting during the first few days of our babies life.

To avoid upsetting anyone, and just being clear about what our hopes and intentions are.

Maybe too many emails, but I find it much easier to be clear, even if if comes across as rude (I’m sorry)  I also wanted to make sure that everyone had the same information.

Wont be telling anybody that we are in labor – I found this hard when my sister didn’t tell us she was in labor, I felt very left out.  But now that it is our turn I completely understand.   This is because it is very important to us that we labour slowly and in privacy.  Don’t want to be reminded of the time.

If you happen to find out, due to my waters breaking in front of you, please don’t tell anyone else, and please refrain from messaging us during that period.  We know you love us and wish us well, and don’t want our music constantly interrupted with dings and pings and messages we feel the need to reply to.

No one will be welcome at the labour unless specifically invited at the time. There is a saying that every person in the birthing room adds an hour to the labor.  This includes the hospital grounds.

We’ll send you a text with a picture as soon as he is born, but probably request no visitors to come until we are settled (Tests done, washed, fed, cuddles, pictures with us taken and hopfully after a short sleep).  We’ll let you know when is a great time to come probably a few hours later…  When visiting please call ahead of time.  If we don’t answer it will be because we are asleep – so take that as a no, not a good time.

Our highest priorities will be feeding, sleeping, showering and settling our son, and everything else might need to wait … Don’t be offended if we actually say no it’s not a good time, or ask you to leave during your visit because something has come up.  It is nothing personal – Just call back later…

I guess what we are really asking is that you respect the fact that these will be the three most important / exciting / and exhausting days or our sons life and that every decision we make in that time will be about putting his needs first.

We love you all very much, but are also pretty nervous and unsure about these few days so please bare with us… We promise we’ll go back to normal in a few months.

Lots of love. M

I wanted everyone to understand where we were coming from and have as much information as possible.  It was a nice way to include people, through our own honesty, about our fears and anxieties about the birth and new baby first days.  It was easier for them to support us, and they felt positive about giving us the space and privacy we asked for.

WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE TO THE EMAIL?

Everyone loved it.  We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from this email.  Everyone was so happy to know how we were feeling and what they could do to help.  It was really positive and helped our family really feel a part of the whole thing, knowing they were supporting us in they way we needed and wanted.

Would I recommend sending around an email like this?

Yes.

 

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