Family and “help” after a birth

3 November 2009 at 12:23 pm 1 comment

So, this afternoon I’m off to visit a colleague from school who is home with her four-week-old baby. I think I’ve got all my bases covered: I’m bringing soup and a roast chicken with me, I made sure my baby doesn’t have the sniffles, I plan on washing my hands before asking to touch her baby, and I don’t plan on staying long. But I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend lately, and it’s been making me wonder more about the nature of family visits to “help” after a birth.

In her case, my friend had a long labor that ended with a vacuum extraction and a very tough recovery period for her. Never fear, though, right? “Help” arrived in the form of her mother, mother-in-law, and aunt-in-law, all staying with her in overlapping intervals for the first three weeks post-partum. By, oh, perhaps day three of this, I think my friend wanted to tie all three family visitors together and suspend them out the window.

She got lots of “Is the baby eating again?” comments, which also really bugged me when I got them in the beginning too, and lots of “Well, I never nursed my children, and they turned out fine” comments as well. Even when she retreated into her bedroom to nurse the baby on her bed and rest a little, apparently her mother-in-law would follow her, sit on the edge of the bed, and just talk randomly about her friends and neighbors back home–who, by the way, my friend doesn’t even know. My friend did get a lot of home-cooked meals (fresh and now in her freezer), housework, and chores out of the deal, but I don’t think she feels like she came out ahead.

She’s okay now, though–the last of the family has been gone for a week, and she’s starting to feel much better physically as well as emotionally–but I wondered if anyone has any advice for someone in a similar situation in the future. 



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Reflecting on my son’s birth, a year later. More Joss Whedon (tangentially)–Alyson Hannigan’s home birth

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. mfomcontributor  |  4 November 2009 at 11:01 am

    Ugh!!! I totally had the mother-in-law with the, “I didn’t nurse” insecurities. It does oddly make you want to hide from them.

    In the early weeks, what is really actually helpful is someone who can help you with nursing and reinforcing that you’ve got a good latch or whatever. Or maybe bring some good, sore nipple remedies!

    The best help just offers an extra set of hands around the house and/or cooks a meal or two.


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