A letter to expecting grandmothers

Dear grandmothers to be,

What an honour to be asked to be present at your daughter’s birth. You are excited; you have booties and hats in an assortment of colours, and you’ve pulled out all her old baby toys to reuse. You have been waiting with great anticipation for this great day, on tenterhooks with the phone parked by your ear when you go to bed.

But please remember, your labour experience will not be the same as hers. We are all different and labour experiences are different, even for the same person when having baby number 1, 2 or 3.

She phones you. “It’s started, Mum!” If she can carry on a normal conversation and doesn’t put the phone down when she has a contraction, don’t feel the need to rush her to hospital. She is in early labour – perhaps you remember how long you had niggling pains before the real labour began?

If her waters have broken it could be up to 24 hours before she labours.

Let the couple having the baby decide when they should go to hospital, and wait patiently or impatiently at home till you are invited to be with them.

Your job is support and it is very hard to watch someone you love in pain. That ‘Fix it, Mum!’ look that only she can give you makes your heart ache because you know you can’t fix it.

Don’t exclude her partner from the process, no matter how much you might want to, regardless of what you think of them.

When you are in the delivery room, stand still or remain seated when staff are in the room. We will walk around you and it saves the inevitable side-step dance. If things start to go wrong, please step outside. You won’t want to, and we’re not actively trying to exclude you, but we need the space to do what needs to be done. We are very, very good at dealing with hiccups during the birthing process and having the space we need helps up deal with them faster.

If she changes her mind about who she would like present, give your daughter permission to tell you that she would like you to leave. Some women do, and they find it very difficult to say something for fear of offending you. Have the discussion first.

Congratulations; you will be able to cuddle your grandchild soon.

Baby Brain

The Midwife Poem