'Fresh trauma': My mother-in-law ruined the birth of my baby

Photo: istock
Photo: istock 

A new mum has opened up about the trauma she experienced following the birth of her son, saying that she blames her mother-in-law for ruining the delivery.

In a furious post to Reddit, the mum shared that she is "shocked" by what happened and by her partner's actions, too. 

"I've never got on with my mother-in-law and have probably met her about ten times since I've been with my partner," the woman wrote adding that she only started being nicer when she discovered she was going to be a grandmother. "She was very excited for her first grandchild and we finally had something she would talk to me about," the mum explained.

But despite the improvement in their relationship, it wasn't all smooth sailing.

Several times during the pregnancy, the woman's mother-in-law asked if she could be in the room while she gave birth.

"That was a firm no," she writes. "And I didn't think about it again really until she stormed into the delivery room."

Yep, you read that right.

"I was in active labour by then with the gas and air and she suddenly appeared out of nowhere," the mum continued. "I'm an incredibly shy and anxious person and I could not bring myself to ask her to leave myself."

The mum went on to say that she presumed her partner would ask her to go.

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He didn't.

Instead, the woman's mother-in-law stayed for hours until the mum felt she needed to push. "I desperately did not want to push with her in the room," she noted. "Eventually I just told my partner it was time to ask her to leave."

Thankfully, she left.

"Fast forward to an hour later, the baby was not coming out no matter how hard I pushed and things had started to get panicky in the delivery room," the mum recalls. But, as she ended up on her hands and knees "in the least dignified position," the mother-in-law came back in. 

"I was mortified," she said, adding that she had to get her partner to take him out again.

"The pushing wasn't working and we ended up in theatre," she notes, "which was extremely traumatic. And I've had more stitches than I even feel comfortable with saying."

But the nightmare continued.

"In theatre, people kept coming in and saying that my mother-in-law was trying to get in. When we came out of theatre, more people came and said she was trying to get in to see the baby."

Despite being horrified, she says her partner didn't think it was as bad as she was making out.

"I allowed visits the next day and my mum came first (I made sure of that) and mother in law came slightly later because I told her the wrong visiting times so my mum could meet the baby first," the new mum wrote. "Mother-in-law wasn't happy she wasn't the first to meet the baby," she continues. "Four days on and mother-in -law asks every day to come and see the baby but I'm absolutely furious at what she did. I'm also trying to establish breastfeeding and I'm anxious and vulnerable and I don't want her around. She keeps telling my partner I'm mean and horrible keeping her away from the baby. I don't know what to do."

The mum shared that while she's spoken to her partner about it, she hasn't pushed it because she's trying to enjoy time with her baby.

"I feel really let down by him for not sticking up for me more and keeping her out properly," she admits.  "I feel confused about medical staff not keeping her away when I said I didn't want her in there."

The mum also shared that after the birth, one of the midwives told her that the reason the labour went so badly was probably because she was so stressed.

"Honestly, I feel like that's true."

Redditors overwhelmingly took the mum's side, slamming both her mother-in-law and her partner.

"I was utterly horrified reading this post," said one woman. " The birth of a child should be a beautiful experience for a couple to share. She is just lucky that none of them have ended up in special care.This young mum needs to be nurtured and supported."

"As I write this, my daughter is in the hospital giving birth to my first grandchild," wrote another. "She does not want visitors and only wants her husband there. That is her absolute right. I am waiting at home."

"Your MIL was monstrous for treating your labor as a spectator sport," said another. 

Sadly, a browse through the reams of mother-in-law literature on the internet reveals that this mum's experience isn't alone. 

Dr Nicole Highet Founder and Executive Director of Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) says that while giving birth is a big event, often filled with hope and expectations for a wonderful event and outcome, it is also a time where we can be pushed to the limit physically, mentally and emotionally

"On top of this," Dr Highet says, "it is also an extremely vulnerable time. Vulnerable as you don't know what to expect, may not be in control and fully exposed - on so many levels."

According to Dr Highet, "it is within this context that it is paramount that we consider and respect the needs and wishes of parents at this vulnerable time. We need to be mindful of their wishes, vulnerabilities and give them the privacy and respect that they so deserve."

Dr Highet notes that while birth can be an incredibly positive experience, it can also result in trauma, particularly if things do not go to plan. "Things may happen that are beyond our control, but managing the behaviour and actions of family and friends, should not be one of them."

For more information about preparing for birth, managing expectations around birth, and coping when things don't go to plan, visit cope.org.au