Pregnancy and in-laws: how to cope if they drive you crazy

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If I had to make a list of the complaints that my pregnant patients report, mother-in-law issues would most definitely be in the top ten. If you are one of the blessed lucky souls who likes her mother-in-law, feel free to go read something else. But if you have a mother-in-law who seems to know how to push your button, read on…

Many women realize that their mother-in-law’s true colors don’t seem to come out until they get pregnant. There may have been a few issues about the wedding, but pregnancy seems to bring out the inner demons. I do understand why that is- you are in fact gestating her grandchild. She is likely to feel some ownership issues, as intrusive as that seems. In addition, many pregnant women tend to confide in their own mother far more than to their mother-in-law, and most men don’t tell their mothers all the information that may be sought, or the dad-to-be simply doesn’t know. So it makes sense that many mothers-in-law are feeling left out and frustrated. However, understanding your mother-in-law’s point of view may not completely explain her behavior.

I think I have seen it all. I have had patients complain about their mother-in-law asking about their weight gain, or making pointed comments about how round they are getting. I have heard that mothers-in-law voice extreme preferences for the gender of the baby, demand that a baby be named for one of her relatives, insist on coming to doctor’s appointments, promise to pay for baby furniture and then refuse to write the check because the chosen furniture was not to her taste, reveal information about the daughter-in-law’s pregnancy to her friends and family that she was specifically asked not to share, and finally, assume that of course she would be in the delivery room.

How to keep your feelings in check: 

1. Don’t assume she is the enemy. She probably loves her son, anticipates loving her grandchild, and may be envious that your mother is more involved than she is. Especially if she only has sons.

2. Do give her as much information about the pregnancy and baby as you can.

3. Don’t shut her out to be vindictive.

4. Do encourage your partner to communicate with her if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.

5. Don’t automatically assume that things have to be done your family’s way. The baby is half your partner’s, so his input and his family’s input may be legitimate.

6. Do ask her opinion on things you can tolerate.

7. Don’t complain about her to your family and friends.

8. Do keep her out of the delivery room if that is your wish!

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