Surprised when strangers in the supermarket have no inhibitions about feeling your bump—without even asking if you mind first? Believe it or not, feeling up your bump is just the first of many liberties that folks will take when there’s a baby around. From the moment your baby is born, and even during the hours leading up to it, it is your right as mom to take charge and let others know what you are (and aren’t) comfortable with.
The delivery room
Whether you consider yourself more or less modest than most, it’s a wise idea to determine well before your first contraction exactly who will be accompanying you in the delivery room. (Surprise visitors are no fun when stirrups are involved.) Whether you prefer just your baby’s father to join you as you welcome your bundle of joy into the world or a whole horde of parents, siblings and friends, be sure to make your wishes clear to everyone who will—or will not—be at your side.
Most of your family and friends will gladly respect your desires. However, if your mother incorrectly assumes from the get-go that she’ll be the first to see her grandchild as he makes his grand entrance, it is certainly appropriate to inform her otherwise—kindly and considerately, of course. One way to do so is to enthusiastically describe how you envision her first encounter with her grandchild: “We can’t wait for you to meet our little guy after we’re both decent and cleaned up. After all, we want to look our best the first time we meet Grandma!”
After returning from the hospital, your first days at home are likely to be speckled with visitors who can’t wait to see the baby. You may find yourself delighted to see them and eager to show off the most beautiful baby in the world, or you may be exhausted, sore and less than enthusiastic about having company. If you’re up for visitors, feel free to welcome them into your home or even call to invite them over.
However, if a nap is more appealing than an afternoon chat, it’s okay to ask for a rain check: “We’d so love to see you, Carla, but we’ll be much better company when we’re well rested. Why don’t we touch base next week to pick a time to get together when we’re settled in and adjusted to our new routine?”
While some visitors may just stop by for an hour or two, others (especially mothers and mothers-in-law) may volunteer to stay with you for a much longer stretch to help you as you heal, rest and adjust to your new mommy role. If you get along well with your mother and mother-in-law and would like their help, by all means, accept it! Just be sure to determine beforehand how long they’ll be staying so their visit doesn’t extend past its welcomed time.
If having either party in your house for more than a couple of hours leaves you frustrated and pulling your hair out, graciously decline their offers and suggest an alternate way they could help: “Thank you so much for offering to stay with us, but we don’t want to get too spoiled by having you around all the time; we need to learn to function as our new little family of three. Perhaps you’d be willing to make one of your famous lasagnas and join us for dinner a few days after we get home?”
Out and about
When you and your baby head out on your first out-of-house ventures, it’s likely that you’ll come across a few overly eager strangers. You might be flattered when the nice lady behind the cash register sweetly compliments you on your precious little one, but shocked when she then asks if she can hold her. Although the cashier is surely a lovely lady, it’s perfectly reasonable to kindly tell her no: “Oh, I’m sorry, but I have to be a little selfish—I don’t like giving up a single moment of holding my little princess!”
Keep in mind, too, that it’s not just adults that will be excited by your baby, but little kiddos as well. While a child’s fascination is generally sweet and curious, sometimes their poking, prodding and germ-filled fingers can leave you wishing that his parents were less amused by him and more concerned for your baby.
Feel free to speak up if you’re uncomfortable with Junior touching/petting /sneezing on your baby. Just remember to be gentle and friendly in your corrections—after all, your baby will be Junior’s age in just a few years and likely just as curious: “Sweetheart, the baby is very fragile. We can look at her, but let’s not touch her, okay? When she is big and strong like you are, she’ll be able to play more.”
If ever you find yourself in a sticky social situation, don’t hesitate to speak up. Just be sure to do so in a thoughtful and genial way, keeping in mind the unintentional social offender’s innocent excitement. And as you skillfully manage the circumstance, remember to take the time to enjoy the delight your baby brings to others.