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Including Your In-Laws in Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a confusing time for most, especially for new mothers. It can become hectic when deciding the name of the child, how you’re going to raise the child, the complications of pregnancy, and of course the outside voices and opinions of the dreaded “In-laws.”

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7 1. Telling Your In-Laws the RIGHT Way

Although the news of a new baby is exciting, it’s wise to take caution when and how you tell family and friends. Complications can happen throughout the first trimester that can prevent the fetus from growing; because of this you don’t want to tell family or friends until at least 20 weeks or after the first trimester.

This is to ensure there’s no awkwardness or hard feelings that could occur if the pregnancy didn’t go as planned. That being said, after the first trimester most women and men start to tell their family and friends about their great news!

Now deciding when to tell your loved ones the news is definitely important; however, how you tell them is eminent as well. It’s important to explain to them why you took the time and waited to tell your family the important news; especially breaking the news to In-Laws, who can get offended if they think they were the last to find out. 

Some partners choose a comedic way to tell their loved ones, such as making a surprise video, putting it on a cake, or giving a gift with baby shoes or clothing to a relative on their birthday or on the holidays.

6 2. Taking Family Members on Doctor Visits; Keep Them in the Loop

Pregnancy takes a lot of time; many don’t realize how many doctors appointments and parenting classes are required for new parents. These appointments and classes can be daunting, and it’s typical for spouses, family members, or friends to accompany the mother. 

According to WebMD a mother should be visiting her doctor once a month for the first trimester, then from 28 weeks to 36 weeks a doctor appointment is required every two weeks, and during the last trimester between 36-40 weeks pregnant, a doctor visit is required every week up until the due date.

As for parental classes; there are a variety to choose from. Some focus on information about labour as well as the changes going on in a woman’s body when pregnant. Along with this the classes also teach the basics of parenting and certain restrictions babies have (such as not using a pillow, always cradle the head etc). 

It’s important not only for the mother to attend these classes, but also for the father or anyone who is taking care of the child in the near future. Experts suggest to retake classes if you’ve had a lull between pregnancies or for family members who want to get a taste of what it’s like. This creates a support system for the parents and most families will agree it’s better to be included.  

5 3. Prepping the House and Nursery

In the first few months of the baby’s life, she or he won’t be extremely active other than the generic eat, sleep, poop. This means baby proofing the house can be postponed until the child begins to crawl. However, designing and setting up the nursery can be loads of fun for the whole family to enjoy! 

There are many aspects to consider when designing your nursery such as the style of crib, does it meet the US/Canadian safety standards, where to put a nursery, what to include etc. Having another opinion or “second voice” when constructing the room for your child can be influential and beneficial.

The same goes for baby proofing your house when the time comes. A second opinion can be helpful in case a spot of the house or a danger is missed. Most new mothers will want a second opinion from their own parents or In-laws, as time will tell, experience is the master parent. Including your family in these decisions will make them feel more apart of the child’s life.

4 4. Baby Shower it Up!

Baby showers are a great time, full of fun games, practical gifts, and a chance to connect with family. Of course, planning a baby shower isn’t on top of a mother’s “to do list,” so it’s common for family members to intervene and plan the party themselves. 

Whether it be siblings, parents, In-laws, or even the old Aunt and Uncle that come around too often- planning a baby shower can really bring everyone together.

Then, of course, the actually party itself is a great bonding experience for families and mothers/fathers. Since baby showers usually occur during the last trimester, a lot more can be known about the infant such as the sex of the child; this makes gift buying a lot easier. Baby showers not only provide a nice atmosphere for both families, but also eases the financial burden that comes along with newborns.  

3 5. Naming of the Child

Depending on cultural and religious views, the naming of a newborn child can be quite tedious. Some choose to keep family names alive and will name their child after one of their precedents. This is especially true in eastern cultures, and although it’s a tradition that is commonly skipped nowadays, the naming of a child after a family member creates an element of belonging.

In Canada specifically, many children are named in different languages that mean different words. Such as the name Kelly, which is Gaelic for “warrior.” In other cultures it’s common for children to receive multiple names, although one remains dominate. 

“JR.” is another way to represent children who have been named after a family member who is still alive. This style of naming gives the original patron warmth, pride, and the sense that their legacy will live on. 

2 6. Picking Religions and Cultural Practices

Religion is a personal decision, it's something that you can choose to do or not do if you prefer. Culture is something that is set due to ethnicity and participation. Some cultures are associated with religion, but the two function independently from one another.

In modern times, it’s common for cultures to collide, however, that doesn’t mean opposites can’t work well together. Including both families in decisions such as baptisms, ear piercings, and rituals avoids any future awkwardness between families. 

Ultimately it’s up to the parent’s discretion on such issues, but it can make In-laws feel more apart of the decision even if they weren’t. Never overestimate the power of including family, I mean it’s better than a future fight, right?  

1 7. After The Baby is Born

This is the moment you’re going to thank your lucky stars you did everything above to include your In-laws, in your pregnancy, as you’re going to need all the help you can get. There’s a popular saying derived from an ancient African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” and it’s stayed true even till today. 

Parenthood can be exhausting and at times confusing; any parent past or present will admit they needed advice from a relative many times. This can come in forms of babysitting, tips and advice, reassurance, and that oh so needed bottle of wine after you finally got the young ones to sleep.

During the first few months of your baby’s life, the people around them become the most familiar beings they will recognize for the next few years, this is close to imprinting that happens in the wild. For this reason, it’s always good to include immediate family- on both sides. Despite any awkwardness that may happen between you and your In-laws, it’s still an important part of life for both the parents and the grandparents to familiarize themselves with the new baby. 

This is called ’secondary attachment’ and in 2007 a study was conducted by Attached Parenting: The Journal of Attachment Parenting International which showed the vital importance in the connection of the child and it’s secondary parents (grandparents).

On the reverse side of this spectrum, to parents who get along very well with their In-laws, other challenges can be presented to you. Now of course, you’re going to include your mother and father in-law in every decision making about your newborn- but it is advised to take caution in not letting the ‘grandparent’ become the ‘parent.’ This is for a number of reasons; the most important being the confusion it brings to the child. 

Although it’s important to familiarize the child with immediate family it can also become confusing for the infant especially if the child is seeing more of the grandparent that he/she is of the parent. This confuses the child and ultimately creates attachment issues as a result of this confusion. Secondly, disagreements with grandparent’s can lead to awkward tension and fighting. 

This just causes extra unneeded stress that neither parties want, the best way to avoid such situations is to listen to the secondary party’s concerns, but still remember you’re the parent and the decisions are ultimately up to you.  

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