Birth and Family/ Visitors

Updated on April 06, 2015
K.W. asks from Santa Monica, CA
14 answers

I'm due with my third next month. We want some one to watch the kids while I'm in labor and the days following. All of our family lives about a day's drive away. My parents have offered to come stay with us around the due date. They're great with my kids and super helpful all around. I'm pretty confident we can count on friends and neighbors in a pinch if the baby arrives early, but it would be nice to know that my kids are in good hands for as long as needed with my parents there caring for them.
The issue is my inlaws. I would be willing to let them stay with us up to the birth to watch our kids instead of my parents, but they are still working (mine are retired) and can't come for an extended amount of time, so we're going to stick with my parents. But my husband feels strongly that his parents should also be invited out to see the baby the day it's born.
There's a few problems with this.
First of all, they have no boundaries. They came to the hospital and into the room when I was in labor with my first, which surprised me because I hadn't even thought to tell people I didn't want people in the room with me besides my husband. With my second I tried to prevent this by specifically telling them not to come to the hospital until after the baby was born, but they did anyway! And my husband just can't say no to them. He told them I was in labor thinking they would come the next day, but they just showed up. My father in law came in and saw me naked- I'm still upset about this. They also assumed that they could stay with us. (At the time we were living in a 2 bedroom apartment, so when I came home from the hospital to adjust to our new family it was the 4 of us, my parents, and his parents with a total of 2 beds. It was a disaster). Asking them to get a hotel is just not fitting with their family culture. It's just how they are.
Secondly, they are really unhelpful. Whenever they come to visit it's more work. I know this happens with guests. But whereas others might notice that you're in a difficult period of your life and offer to help cook or something, his parents will literally ask me what's for dinner and then ask me to modify it for their dietary needs. I just don't want to deal with it in the days after I give birth. They're more focused on themselves- they give my husband a hard time about not hanging out with them enough. I'd rather us be able to focus on our new family and not entertaining his parents.
Thirdly, my parents specifically told me when they offered to come that they wouldn't come if my inlaws would be there. I realize that this is a bit unreasonable, but I do get where they're coming from because they are private people (that's how I got this way!) and really uncomfortable around his family. They are also still remembering the last birth and want to prevent a similar situation. The last thing I want to come home to is family drama. And since I need my parents for kid coverage....
My husband and I are in a bit of a dispute. On the one hand we both think we need a set of grandparents here and know we can't depend on his. I also think that, not to be a princess but, birth is a big day for the mother and -for once in my life!- it's okay for me to dictate how those first few days go. I said why don't we just ask them when they want to come and just schedule them, then my parents know and we can work around it. He agrees to that but thinks they will ALSO want to come the day it's born. He feels that his family would be really offended if we made them stick to the calendar and of course they can come whenever they want and stay with us.
So, I'm sure there's tons of you who have family members that don't get along with each other. How did you handle it?
Am I unreasonable for wanting to control who comes to the hospital who can stay at our house and when?
Should I tell my parents that his are coming too and just deal with it?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Okay, thanks for the perspectives! I think I handled it. I just called both my know as and (delicately) explained my dilemma ( left out some things of course). They get it. Turns out my husband is wrong, they claim they don't mind waiting and coming a week or 2 later.

More Answers



answers from Springfield on

It's super easy to keep them out of your hospital room. Tell the nurse!!! Those nurses in labor and delivery know it is their, job to make sure the mom-to-be does not have unwanted visitors. They are ready and willing to do this for you, so let them know the second you walk in the door that visitors are not allowed! If you want your own parents in the room, you can let the nurse know who is and who is not allowed in the room. But please do let the nurses do this for you.

For what it's work, I know that the paternal grandparents have as much love for the new baby as maternal grand parents, but you are a patient, too. While you are in labor, this is about you and what you are comfortable with. So if you are ok with your own mom coming in for a visit, that's ok. If your husband's mom wants to see her own son, that can be arranged. But it doesn't have to be at your expense!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Wow. Your FIL walked in while you were naked. PLEASE tell me he walked right out! I would have been so upset that it would have affected my ability to birth my child. That is beyond the pale. They didn't even knock? The woman didn't walk in first to make sure you were decent?

I have to wonder what on earth is wrong with your husband that he doesn't "get it". He's not the one having the baby. I don't care if it IS cultural. You get to decide who walks in your labor/delivery room. NOT HIM.

I'm glad that you have talked to them now and they are in agreement to wait. I'll just bet that this has something to do with their work schedule being made easier and the fact that it's your 3rd baby and the excitement has worn off some. Problem solved? No, not really. Your husband STILL doesn't get the boundary issue.

You had better put your foot down and tell your husband that you will NOT wait hand and foot on his parents when they come. You will NOT cook for them. It will be his job to deal with them about this issue. They should be cooking for you - you just gave birth!! Just tell them flat out that you have to rest and you cannot cook for them. And turn around and go lay back down. Don't clean up after them. DON'T CLEAN! If they leave a mess, tell your husband to clean it up.

Honestly, I'm just astonished that you put up with this with 2 other kids. What were you thinking? You are supposed to rest and heal after childbirth, not take care of people who are really only there to look at the new baby and take your husband away from you so that you're alone with a newborn and a toddler.

It doesn't matter if they are offended, KW. Your husband should be caring about offending YOU, for heaven's sake! If all he cares about is offending his family, then he is short-shrifting the mother of his children and his wife. He doesn't get to do that - you come BEFORE his parents. NO COOKING FOR THEM. NO CLEANING UP AFTER THEM. NO LEAVING YOU ALONE WITH 3 CHILDREN to "hang out" with them.

Good grief. I'm sorry, but your husband is nuts and it must just have been baby hormones that let you think that you had to allow this.

Take the bull by the horns. You tell the doctor and nurse who can and can not come to the hospital. NOW you know that you cannot make assumptions about your parents-in-law. No matter what they say in advance about coming a few weeks later, you tell the hospital personnel what you want - they do NOT mind being "the bad guys". Tell your husband point blank when you go into labor that you will not have his parents in your hospital room. Be a bear if you have to. Don't back down. Say to your husband "I WILL NOT HAVE YOUR FATHER SEEING ME NAKED AGAIN!" That way when they tell him "Oh, we've decided that we want to come", he won't say "It's okay" because he knows you'll be a laboring monster to him if he tries this stunt.

Don't be a pushover. And don't apologize for feeling the way you do. YOU have a culture too. Your culture matters. And since you're having this baby, your culture and feelings and wishes trump your husband's and his family's.

(Wanting you to cook after giving birth - I'm seething for you...)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

You're brave for wanting any over night guests at all after the birth of your child! While I had no qualms about having the entire world there during labor and delivery there was no way I could handle anyone staying at my house during the recovery period after going home. We were fine with during the day visits to help with the kids, help with the house and generally visit but we sent everyone home or to hotel rooms no later than a little after dinner. Everyone called before coming over, no showing up at our door unless you had food in hand or something for baby and you were prepared to be told you couldn't stay. We are fortunate in that all sides of the family all get along and are great friends so we didn't have to worry about that. They did however respect each other's space and one on one time with the new baby and older kids.
If you do not want your in laws there during labor and delivery then make it clear that you don't want them called until immediately after baby is born since they can not respect your boundaries. You need to be clear with your husband about how much it bothers you. The nurses are also there to run interference for anyone that is not welcome.
Both sets of parents need to put their dislike for each other aside. This is not about them. This is about you, the new baby and your family.
You are not being unreasonable. Your husband deserves to be excited and wanting to share the experience. But in the end you are the one who is experiencing the physical toll of childbirth and the post-partum period so you have a bigger say in how things go in your own home.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Don't call your inlaws until after the baby is born. Seriously there's no reason for them to be there during labor so have your hubby call them after to let them know all the details. If they want to come to visit then they should be allowed. Its not up to your parents to decide that. Have your parents come and stay before the baby is born and watch the kids while you are in the hospital and then leave it to them to decide if they want to stay a little longer knowing that your inlaws may be there.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I totally understand. While I don't have in-laws who have a different culture per se, my MIL is much more the type to expect to be waited on, and not to step in to help. She's a burden during that sort of situation, not any help. OR, she only would want to help "with the baby" and not with anything else--like the other kids, or dinner, or sweeping the floor... nothing.

MY mother, on the other hand, (not to take sides, if it were reversed I'd be happy to have MIL instead of my own mom at my house) waited on ME. She cooked dinners, she changed diapers (the dirty work), she ran laundry, she swept the floor, she would disappear to the guest room to be out of the way so husband and I could have time alone without having to hide out in our bedroom. She came to HELP.

There is a vast difference in these two guests. One isn't so much a guest as a helper. The other is a flat out guest. Having guests when you just gave birth is a nightmare in my book.

I'm sorry, but walking into my room during delivery without ASKING FIRST? ! Oh H3LL no!!

I wouldn't tell them until the birth is done. Call after to announce the baby's arrival and tell them they can come visit on X day (2 or 3 days out if you want). If they want to visit earlier, then by all means they may, but you can't provide them accommodations at that time. They'll have to get a hotel. If they wait until X date, they can stay with you.

Husband needs to bend on this, not you. YOU are the one who will be vulnerable and physically wiped out and recovering. Enlist the help of your doctor and his staff to assist you in bringing him around if you need to.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

The more stories I hear about this the more I absolutely love my Mom.
When I was born (I was her first) she went through a hard labor - we both almost died.
She went into labor Dec 24, went to the hospital, they tied her to a gurney and basically put her in a closet and forgot about her till after Christmas.
I was born 8am Dec 26th.
So her father and brother come to visit and they and my Dad expect to be waited on hand and foot.
She would just take me, go into the bedroom and lock the door to get some peace.
And then my grandfather has his first heart attack and she ends up back in the hospital visiting him dragging a newborn along with her.
In short - it was pure misery and visiting family didn't help at all.

So when I had our son, we called her the day after he was born and she came to visit 2 months later.
She never wanted to put me through anything like what she went through.
It was perfect!

Your husband needs to figure out who he's married to.
Then he needs to worry more about pleasing you than his parents.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would limit everyone's visits. Make sure they all have a hotel to go home to. Tell him that you need these boundaries because his parents have trampled on your family in the past. Tell the nurses that you do NOT WANT them in your room. Let them be bouncers for you. Tell them to go away.

If your parents refuse to be there at the same time as the ILs, you need to talk to them, too. You can't always keep all parties apart. They need to be grown ups about it.

You are not unreasonable. I think he's just upset because the "nos" are toward his family, but I cannot blame you.

SO WHAT if they also want to come the day the baby is born? You're the parents. If you need space in the hospital, you need space. They can wait.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

When I was pregnant with my first my mom came and stayed for the first 2 weeks. It was aweful. She didn't help at ALL. I still had to cook and take care of the baby and everything. I had some complications and was ordered by the doc to STAY in bed for the first week, no exceptions, and was to be waited on and only get up to go to the bathroom and shower. There is a pic of me and my husband sitting at the counter trying to make bottles RIGHT when we got home from the hospital. It was horrible. This was 15 years ago and it still pisses me off. So when I got pregnant with my second my mom was all, oh I'll come stay with you. I said, no, I can handle it. And I did. So it sounds like you took care of it but I was going to suggest your parents stay for 2 weeks after the birth then the inlaws can come and stay for a couple days. Good luck and congrats!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

you're the one pushing a human out of your body.
you get to set the parameters for this.
i'm all about compromise, but in this case your dh needs to suck it up and handle his family.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I am a private person and I did NOT want anyone besides my husband in the room while I was giving birth. I hardly wanted him there. But I was very clear with my husband from the beginning that no family members were welcome during labor/birth and that I wanted the first day to recuperate and bond with our baby before having family members arrive. I ended up going into labor 2 months early so a lot of those plans got shot (he called his parents when we found out I was dialated and going to give birth that day). His grandma arrived first and luckily, our hospital did not bring guests in without coming to consult me. I told them I'd like guests to wait in the waiting room and my husband came to thank her for coming and visited with her. Then his parents arrived and it was the same thing. His sister came later that night. I tried very hard to be accommodating to my husband's need for family during that time (my family all lives out of state) and reminded myself that they cared about him and were there for support. But like it is with a lot of people, they were given an inch and took a mile. They all stayed forever and on top of having my son wisked away before I barely got a look at him (and it was 4 hours before I got to see him again, And then I wasn't allowed to touch him), my husband left to go with the NICU to take care of our son (we agreed on that). Then when he had to leave the NICU team while they did some medical interventions, my husband didn't come back to check on me. He visited with his family and comforted them for an hour! I was left alone for an hour after a scary and emotional early birth so that everyone else's feelings could be attended to.

The point of my long rant is this - Although I don't know how I would have done it differently if given the chance, I do know that it's YOUR special moment, not anyone else's. Women go through a lot to give birth, and a lot after, and their husbands should be attending to THEM and their baby, NOT anyone else. I don't at all feel that you have to "make things even" by inviting both sets of parents. Invite those that are there to be supports to you and your husband, period. Everyone else can be invited to visit in a few days/week/whenever it works for you and your husband. They will get over any hurt feelings and if they don't? Too bad. Be grown ups.

Because they ignored your wishes for privacy last time? Make it very clear to your husband that he may not inform them when you go into labor. You can call them a few days/week/whenever when you are ready for them to visit. Period. When they complain, remind them that they disrespected your wishes last time and unfortunately showed that you can't trust them to come at the appropriate time. So therefore, they made the choice for you to inform them only when you were ready for a visit.

My family is all kinds of drama and I didn't tell my parents I had my son until 2 weeks after because of all the chaos surrounding the birth. I needed time to deal with my own stuff before taking on their feelings. And I knew my mother would hop on a plane and come out here even though I explicitly told her I did not want guests right after a baby. She was and is still mad about it. But I don't regret waiting to tell her AT ALL.

Best of luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Youre giving birth, its your day. Be a diva. Its the only time you can make any demand/rule you want. Good luck and hopefully a short labor :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Oh you bring back the memories.

My father in law kept telling me he was going in to see "HIS" granddaughter be born and he was going to video. He didn't, but had he done it, I would have told the nurses I want him out.

Who showed husband, adult daughter, her boyfriend, and my brother in law, with the video camera. I flipped off his camera and never saw the video. My husband fell asleep, as he had worked all day. The 3 others set up and played yahtzee and watched movies until I said it was time for everyone to go.

My mother in law, father in law, and step-mother-in-law, brother in law, and nephew all showed up when I came home. I swear they tossed my baby around like she was a football. I finally got mad, got up, and took her back. They were play fighting over who got to hold her and were stealing her back and forth. When I went in the room to nurse her, my father in law sent my nephew upstairs to spy on my because I had my boob out. SMH!

My sister was the most polite. She and my niece and nephew came over to see the baby. She knocked lightly and when I answered, she promised they would not touch her, but the kids wanted to see her. She recognized my stress and stayed for about 15 minutes and they left.

I say, tell them what you expect. If any moment is yours, it is this one!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

The thing you have to remember is that your husband loves his parents just as deeply as you love yours, and this is as much his day as it is yours. That said, you are the one giving birth and you get to dictate who gets to be in that room, period. But I have to agree with your husband, I would not hurt my parents by not inviting them to see the baby when it was born when my spouses parents were staying with us long term. I don't think it is fair of you to ask your husband to treat his parents in a way you know you would never treat your own. So if they are okay with the schedule you all talked about but he also wants to invite them down when the baby is actually born, then let him, just make it clear that no one is allowed in the birthing room except husband and hospital staff. Make it clear to both sets of parents as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi, I have a very similar dynamic.

We tried different things, but the best situation I had was this one:

- in-laws were assigned task of watching older children, came a day or so before I was due, and stayed while I was in hospital. Given list of things to do - take kids to school, bathe, feed, etc. so it was very clear what was expected. They were busy - far too busy to expect to be waited on hand and foot. They had kids at home while I was in labour. They came in later that day with kids, to meet baby. I got home from hospital, they continued to watch kids that day and night, and then went home (you can have them stay longer in your case if that's what you want).

My family came afterwards. If you don't want houseguests at that point, they could stay in a hotel nearby. They again looked after older kids, made meals, let me rest and nurse baby.

That way, both families get to see baby, see older kids, and help your husband out.

Decide on the plan and then stick to it. Have your husband enforce it. The last thing you want is to be stressed out - so figure out the best compromise that means the least amount of stress for you. Then let your husband handle his end.

Good luck :)

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