How grandparents can help their daughter-in Law-during during pregnancy

The bond between a woman and her husband’s parents can be a tenuous one. Add an impending stork arrival to the mix and things can get even more complicated.For the expectant mother, there may be boundaries she needs to have respected as she prepares for the birth of her child. For the expectant grandparents, there is undoubtedly excitement and an eagerness to be involved in the process.

Finding the proper balance is tricky and will certainly depend on your particular relationship with your daughter-in-law, but by laying a few ground rules it is possible for the whole family to enjoy the pregnancy and celebrate the new addition together.

Don’t comment on your daughter-in-law’s weight gain

When you are pregnant, you may be slow to put on weight during the early part of the pregnancy. Instead of telling your daughter-in-law how big she’s getting, just tell her she looks beautiful and healthy. You’ll make her day.

Do ask, sincerely, how your daughter-in-law is feeling

Pregnant women are inundated with questions-about the baby, about the nursery, about her doctor, about her husband, about her other kids. A genuine, heartfelt concern about how she’s doing will go a long way.

Don’t buy maternity clothes

Clothing is a personal choice; maternity clothing even more so. There are lots of options out there these days for expectant mothers, and maternity styles have drastically changed since you were carrying your children. If your daughter-in-law is seven months along and proud of showing her “baby bump,” you may inadvertently offend her if you give her a tent dress in size XL thinking it will make her more comfortable. Instead of buying clothes for her, offer to take her shopping or give gift cards to her favorite maternity wear store.

Do throw a baby shower for your side of the family and your friends

If this is your daughter-in-law’s first child (or her first with your son), a baby shower is a wonderful way to welcome the new little bundle to your family. Not only will your daughter-in-law appreciate your thoughtfulness, but you’ll be helping her prepare for the arrival of your grandchild by building up supplies of baby essentials.

Don’t touch the belly

It’s a temptation we all feel, that adorable baby belly sticking out from a woman’s waistline, just begging to be patted and rubbed. Resist the temptation. Ask yourself if you would touch your daughter-in-law’s stomach if she wasn’t pregnant. If the answer is no, you shouldn’t do it just because she is. A pregnant woman’s body is no longer her own, but belongs to the tiny life she’s carrying. However, this doesn’t mean that it belongs to everyone else, too. Instead, first ask her if she minds and only indulge that urge to pat the belly if she gives the green light.

Do offer to help

If your son and daughter-in-law have other children, offer to babysit so mom and dad can have a night out before the new baby comes, or so your daughter-in-law can take a nice, long nap or a hot shower without having to worry about the kids. Offer to run errands, cook a meal or two or do the grocery shopping to give the mom-to-be a much needed rest.

Don’t share horror stories about your son as a baby

First-time mothers are apprehensive enough about the inevitable trials and tribulations of motherhood. Your daughter-in-law doesn’t need to feel like she’s carrying the spawn of Satan. Instead of talking about your son’s night terrors or his penchant for shaving the dog, tell your daughter-in-law about that sweet Valentine he made for you in the second grade or the time he scored his first home run in Little League and was so proud that he wore his uniform everywhere for a week.

Ask if there’s anything the baby needs and shop accordingly

Grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandchildren, but wait until after the baby is born to start buying toys and games and that adorable little outfit you saw at the store the other day. Before the birth, help your son and daughter-in-law stock up on useful items like diapers, wipes, layette pieces like bodysuits and pajamas, nursery furniture or bedding. If your daughter-in-law is a savvy shopper, you could even clip coupons for her for things like over-the-counter infant medicines, baby food, laundry detergent and bath items.

Don’t be anywhere near the labor and delivery department when the big day arrives

Obviously, this one depends a lot on your particular relationship with your daughter-in-law and her wishes for the birth of her child. Labor and delivery is a very individual experience. Some women want a true community atmosphere, with lots of family and friends in the room for support. Other women, want the birth of a child to be an intimate event between husband and wife. Unless you have been specifically invited by both your son and his wife, you should set up camp in the hospital waiting room or wait at home for a phone call announcing the happy news.

Do share in the excitement of your new grandchild. The birth of a baby is no time for sour grapes or jealousy. No matter what your relationship with your daughter-in-law is, the child she’s carrying is a part of the son you raised and love. You may not have as big a role during the pregnancy as you’d like, but nine months is barely the blink of an eye compared to the years of joy and delight your grandchildren will bring. Take your cues from your daughter-in-law, respect her boundaries and find little ways to express your excitement for the arrival of the newest member of your family.