My Grandbaby – How new grandparents can support the new mother
Whether it’s your daughter or your daughter-in-law–having their first baby—is a really big deal for her. She will need lots of support, but be careful not to over-step.
According to Hilda Hutcherson, M.D. an OB-GYN, “There is a fine between being eager to help and overbearing. Before doling out advice on everything from breast-feeding to baby strollers, take a step back.”
Dr. Hutcherson suggests you can be supportive from a distance. Prevent fights and bad feelings by making yourself available to pitch in — and then follow your daughter’s lead. When you make suggestions, couch them in terms of what worked for you as a new mom, not what your daughter/daughter-in-law “should” or “shouldn’t” do.
Got a great tip for getting the baby to sleep? Say something like, “I found this really helpful when you were a child.”
Offer to baby-sit
Buying cute baby clothes and expensive toys are obvious ways to give your grandchildren attention, but one of the best things you can do is give the new parents a gift money can’t buy: time off.
Remember, when baby-sitting your grandchild, follow your daughter’s preferred child-rearing techniques, rather than providing the care you think is best. We know there is a lot of fun stuff and humor about the relationship between parents and grandparents, but this is serious business. There are hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of grandparents who are kept from seeing their grandchildren because of fractured families. Don’t let this happen to you. If you see signs of this happening, please visit page 26 with advice from Dr. Pat Hanson, author of Invisible Grandparenting.
Learn the signs of postpartum depression
Rapidly decreasing post-baby hormones may make your daughter weepy, so a joyful event could leave her teary-eyed instead. Fortunately, these feelings typically resolve themselves within a few weeks of giving birth. If they last longer, she may have postpartum depression (PPD). This manifests as feelings of sadness, doubt, guilt or helplessness that get worse over time. If these symptoms interfere with normal functioning, she might want to check with her doctor. This postpartum guide can also help.
Adjusting to parenthood is tough for new fathers too. Although there’s not much research on the subject, PPD may affect 25%-50% of new fathers, particularly stay-at-home dads and those whose partners are also experiencing it.
Let the new mother know she can come to you with concerns. But realize you may need to broach the topic first. You can do that by gently acknowledging her emotions, saying, “It’s the hormones – really. Great moms have these feelings.”