You’ve made the big announcement: you’re pregnant! And you’ve told everyone, your friends, family, employer and anyone else you care about or believe will be affected by the big news.
But that also means you told your in-laws.
For some, that is not a problem because they get along great with their partner’s mother and father. They would likely be of great help during the next several months, and could even throw amazing baby showers!
But for others, telling your in-laws you are pregnant could easily mean an already strained relationship with your partner’s family, a family that will be the grandparents, aunts, and uncles to your soon-to-be-born baby. For example, your in-laws may end up not just giving advice but insisting you do what they did with their babies, one of them being your partner.
So what to do? You already are going to have a lot on your mind for a long while. How can you maintain peace and calm between yourself and your in-laws during this time? Let’s take a look:
As in any relationship, it is best to set boundaries with those around you and communicate firmly that those boundaries be respected. In this case, you need to make it clear that the final decisions regarding the baby are between you and your partner. If your sister-in-law insists that you breastfeed your child, make it clear you and your husband (her brother) have decided to use formula instead. If your mother-in-law argues that she would like to be in the delivery room, again, make it clear you and your partner would prefer no one but each other because of how vulnerable and medically shaky giving birth is. When making your stance clear, be firm and don’t wait until frustration builds up or communication will lead to emotional discussion, in a negative sense.
However, maintaining boundaries can be tricky in this case because you do not want to strain the relationship between not only yourself and your in-laws, but your partner and his family. Don’t make him have to choose between you and his mother.
Your best bet is weighing in on what decisions and discussions are between you and your spouse, and what you’d like to include your in-laws in. If your in-laws overdo it in giving unsolicited advice, don’t argue with them. Simply say, “thank you, we’ll think about that”. Chances are, the overbearing in-law is not trying to be pushy or controlling; they might want to be helpful and give advice that helped them when they were expecting a baby. But even if that helpfulness seems like it is too much, speak up sooner rather than later and with kindness. Don’t take it all personally.
DON’T EXPECT THINGS TO CHANGE
Now that you are pregnant, do not think your relationships with your in-laws will get better or not. In other words, if all is well between you and your sister-in-law, they will most likely stay that way; if by chance her behavior changes, that means something else is going on or has been going on for a long time. If you have a poor relationship between you and your father-in-law, it will stay that way after making your big announcement.
None of this has anything to do with you and being pregnant. With your baby growing inside of you, chances are you will bond more with your in-laws or draw more tighter boundaries with them. There’s a baby coming into the world and there are some people you would want in your life during this time or not.
Becoming pregnant is a big deal and is probably something you and your partner have always wanted. But announcing the pregnancy is a huge deal because that means there’s going to be a new member of not just one, but two families. A new grandchild, a new niece or nephew! It is exciting for everyone and the eagerness that comes with your pregnancy will have someone biting their nails with excitement.
But that excitement can lead to overbearing and intrusive behavior that can add to whatever you are already facing, not to mention intense annoyance at a time you cannot afford to face. Even if that in-law is giving unsolicited behavior and acting like a control freak with your pregnancy has good intentions and means well, you need to put your foot down and make it clear that the pregnancy is yours and many of the decisions to make are between you and your partner. Gently, of course. Let’s not rupture any family ties or add to personal stress.
A pregnancy is between you and your partner. The in-laws are on the sidelines. But they are to be on the sidelines, cheering you both on and being there whenever you need them.