I have a special guest on the blog this week . My good friend, Lisa Zielke from GatherLoveLLC, writes about that wonderful transition from having a full nest to an empty one and all things mid-life. Today, she is giving us some advice about attending the birth of a grandchild. Have you ever been in the delivery room with your daughter or daughter-in-law? This can be a special bonding experience for all of you.
The Birth of a Grandchild: A Grandma’s Point of View
The birth of a grandchild brings pure joy into the lives of grandparents! Unexpectedly though, many other emotions will surface during this blessed event. Some feelings can cause sadness and even pain. On top of that, confusion may arise due to the uncertainty of grandma’s role during the birthing process.
A grandma’s point of view during the birth of her grandbaby can vary depending on the situation. Every story is different and requires some forethought and planning before you actually get to the day of delivery.
This article will provide advice and suggestions on how to determine your role in the birth of a grandchild. It will also give insight into some of the emotions you may experience and how to handle them.
The Birth of a Grandchild: My Experience
My first granddaughter was born when I was just 37 years old. Since my daughter was only 20 at the time, my role was more hands-on. Although her boyfriend was present, he was not very supportive.
I attended every doctor’s visit and I was also in the labor and delivery room for the entire event along with my other daughter.
Caring for her during labor was my main concern. She was essentially a woman but yet she was still my little girl. Once I was sure she was okay, I allowed myself to focus on the baby. It felt as if I had been torn into two directions and did not know which way to go or who to care for first.
A few years down the road, she married a wonderful and supportive husband. They decided to build on their little family of three and became pregnant. At that time, my little girl had grown into a strong woman. She did not need me to hold her hand every step of the way. She and her husband were a good team and she did not need the guidance she once did. Yet, she still chose for both my other daughter and me to be in the labor and delivery room with them.
Things had changed drastically from the birth of her first child. Her husband was attentive and participated in every aspect of caring for his wife. My daughter did not need me in the room to care for her, she just wanted the security of my presence.
This was an unfamiliar, new version of a grandchild’s birth.
The ability to process the miracle that I was experiencing was heartwarming! I was able to capture intimate moments on camera for them. These pictures were from a grandma’s point of view; my point of view. Mom and dad were shocked by the intensity of emotions that each photo portrayed. Moments that only a mom or grandma could identify through the intense love of her family. These photos will be treasured forever.
My oldest daughter went on to have one more child and I participated in her birth the same way as I did for her second delivery.
The Birth of a Grandchild from a Grandma’s Point of View: Take 4 & 5.
Soon after, my younger daughter married a great guy. She too is a very strong woman and they now have two sons. The fact that she asked me to participate in her labors and deliveries for her boys was such an honor.
My job remained to be a sense of calm and security during all of their labors and deliveries. Assisting when needed but otherwise, I was a grateful observer and personal photographer.
Waiting on Number 6
Having participated in 5 of my grandchildren’s births, I am now getting ready for the birth of my 6th grandlittle. However, this time I am starting from scratch. My new granddaughter will be my son’s first baby. I am close to my daughter-in-law but, I will not be present in the delivery room. They have chosen to travel this path by themselves. Number 6 is a whole new ball game.
This time, a grandma’s point of view will be from the waiting room. Although I will not be in the birthing suite, I will still be a steady presence just a few steps away. Waiting anxiously for the birth of a granddaughter with my camera in-hand and willing to provide support wherever needed.
So, you just found out that you will be a grandma, what should you do now?
- As the pregnancy progresses, keep open communication with your children.
- Speak to them about their wishes and respect their answers.
- It is okay to gently ask them what their birthing preferences are.
- If you are chosen to be in the room during labor and delivery, it is important to determine what they expect of you. Do they want you to actively participate or just wait to be asked to help?
- Should they want you to take pictures, discuss which shots are desired and which are to be avoided. Perhaps they would also like a video. Knowing these details prior to the big event will be beneficial for all involved.
- A grandma’s point of view from the waiting room is also important. Discuss what duties you will be responsible for in that environment.
- Other family members may need your calmness and security too. Are there siblings that need you? Maybe other grandparents will look to you for guidance during this exciting time.
Advice and Suggestions to Help Guide Your Way Through the Birth of a Grandchild in the Delivery Room.
During our childbearing years, most of us had natural births and took Lamaze classes so that our husbands could be present during delivery.
Things have changed big time!
- Moms can experience labor without intense pain if they want. Many women now choose to have an epidural during labor. This allows mom to relax and gives them a positive birthing story. Epidurals are not the spinals from the past. They allow mom to stay alert so she can actively participate in delivery; including pushing. This procedure does have some risks and side effects, but most moms are pleased with the result. Read more about the procedure here so that you can have an educated conversation with mom about this matter.
- Couples often choose to skip birth classes even though dad will participate in each moment of delivery. Teaching the soon-to-be parents about breathing techniques and using focal points could be helpful. Brush up on techniques and learn about some new things to help in a natural birth should mom decide against any medication. Even if mom ends up with an epidural, these steps could help ease her pain before then.
- If it is your daughter in labor, remember, you have spent a lifetime soothing her. You know if she likes her back rubbed or maybe she likes to be sung to. The things you did for your little girl, will still make her feel secure and loved now. You can even share these tidbits with dad and let him be her security blanket too.
YouTube is a great source of information on labor and delivery.
- Learn how to read the monitor during contractions. This is helpful for both mom and dad. You will be able to prepare mom during each contraction; how strong it will be and when it will be lessening. Contractions look like mountains. They begin by climbing upwards, hit a peak and then decline. Coaching mom through them is beneficial and helps her mentally deal with the pain because she will know when it will be ending. Check out this dad on YouTube; he explains his wife’s contractions in a simple manner. You can also ask the nurse to teach you about the monitor too.
- Documenting the story through pictures. Take photos of the monitor and include the time so that mom and dad can look back on the progression of labor. Also, a grandma’s point of view will see moments that other people miss. Dad’s teary eyes as he watches mom. Mom looking lovingly at dad. You get the idea.
- In preparation for the big day, pack your own hospital bag. This includes socks, a warm hoodie, ibuprofen, dollar bills and quarters for the vending machines, etc. Don’t forget a toothbrush/paste, make-up, a hairbrush, and hairspray. You will be in front of that camera soon too while holding your new little bundle of joy.
- Pack a large bag with snacks and drinks for everyone to share. Although mom cannot eat during labor, dad still needs to keep his strength up as do you. Include healthy snacks and those that are high in protein to boost energy. Add in some favorite junk food and chocolate to provide a bit of comfort. Mom will love this once she delivers too.
- It seems to take forever for the cafeteria food to be delivered and she will be starving!
- Mom and dad will have developed a birth plan. Be prepared! Things may not always go as planned. Mom may have wanted an epidural and labor progressed too quickly, and she cannot get one. The baby may not be in the correct position and maneuvers may be done to change this. Labor may not progress and may need to be induced. The possibility of a cesarean section may be apparent. Whatever happens, hold strong and be their rock. There is always time for you to break down after the birth of a grandchild.
A Tip for Grandma
- Emotional preparedness is one of the most important aspects of this journey. Being in the delivery room was the hardest thing that I have ever done. No one ever told me that I would be crushed watching my daughters in so much pain. The pain is temporary and that is what gets us through. However, not being able to fix it for my own babies was hard to handle. I did pack my hospital bag and freshened up before pictures were taken of me holding my grandlittles, but I looked like I delivered them myself! Like I said, photos that are treasured forever!
This is an experience that you will never forget and it is a blessed event to be a part of. You can form a special bond with your children and grandchildren too! Enjoy every moment of the birth of a grandchild from the best way; a grandma’s point of view!
Now Let’s Get this Labor Started!
Lisa has so many great tips for you lucky grandmas who get the privilege of being there in the delivery room. Whether it’s with your daughter or daughter-in-law, being there at the birth of a grandchild is something special! After the baby arrives. . .are you prepared to babysit??😉!
Make sure you visit Lisa’s site, GatherLoveLLC.com for more ideas on how to navigate this fabulous mid-life part of growing older! Lisa’s site will make you feel right at home, and it’s beautiful! Thanks, Lisa!!
Cookies & Milk for Everyone!
P.S. Now that your precious grandbaby is here, check out the 10 Commandments for Grandparents. It’s kind of like Grandparenting 101.