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Ask Dr. Dana: Your M-I-L in the House

Q: My mother-in-law has offered to come and stay with us for two weeks after our new baby comes. She’s a nice woman, and an excellent cook, but shouldn’t my husband and I bond with our baby alone for the first few weeks?

A: This is one of my favorite questions. You see, you’re a lucky new mom and just don’t know it yet. I’m not sure who started the myth that new parents need weeks alone at home to bond with their baby, but it’s a bad one. I’m always so grateful to the extended family when they come to the first office visit with the new parents.

When you’re discharged from the hospital, you likely haven’t slept well in three of four days; you’re recovering from delivery; and nursing and caring for your baby is still so new. Your partner can be a huge help- but it takes many hands. He’s thrown into the role of caring for this entire new little family while you recuperate and focus on the baby. Why not let your mother-in-law be there to lend a hand? She can be an extra set of arms to hold your child so you can finally sleep; cook you healthy, nourishing meals; and tidy up so you don’t get distracted by what a mess the house is.

We’re meant to have babies with aunts, mothers, and sisters within walking distance, but because of how our world is today, we’re often on the other side of the country from those special people. Accept your mother-in-law’s help, especially since you seem to like her, and let her come during the first few weeks. You’ll need her, and you’ll be sad to see her go- I promise.

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