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HELP! MIL (former OB nurse!) will FLIP about home birth

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

For my first baby I planned to have a natural birth in a hospital with a midwife group. Won't go into details, but I ended up being pressured into a lot of interventions, and the birth was traumatic (DD was fine, brilliant and beautiful in fact, but mom was not for quite a while). For our second baby, DH and I have decided on a home birth.  DH, btw, is an ER physician who believes that home birth is a healthy and safe option for low-risk births (he is a little hung up on transfer time, but lucky for us there's a hospital right down the street).


So, my MIL is a retired OB nurse from a VERY traditional practice (section rate through the roof). She has talked in a derogatory manner about home birth before, and I know she will freak out when we tell her that's our plan. I don't want to be patronizing toward her, or make her feel that I'm belittling her OB knowledge. But I do want to assure her that we've carefully thought through the 'what ifs' (in a very exacting manner, I must add, due to DH's awareness of EVERY freakin' crash section scenario), and feel confident that we will be giving birth in a safe, healthy, loving environment. I also want to gently communicate that it's not a decision that is up for debate.


Sometimes I have a hard time communicating in a respectful, diplomatic way about something like this that I am passionate about. But I understand that this will be hard for her, and I don't want to be unnecessarily insulting or dismissive of her fears. I also have seen on other boards the 'just don't tell her!' advice - but I don't want to be secretive or dishonest about something that means this much to me. So, if you've got a knack for navigating difficult conversations - HELP ME!!

post #2 of 19

I don't know if I have a particular skill at difficult conversations, but I have gotten better over the years at telling people to butt-out. When or if she finds out (you could consider not telling her until afterwards), you could say something like, "I understand that you are concerned for our safety, but we are making the best choice we can for our family, and it's really not up for discussion anymore." Then, change the subject.  If she keeps talking about it, just be firm with her. You can tell her, "I'm not interested in convincing you about the safety of homebirth or explaining why it's the right thing for our family. It's our decision to make and we have already made it. Now, we'll either have to change the subject, or I'll have to leave/hang up/etc until you can respect my wish to stop discussing this topic."  Just refuse to talk to her about it.


I know it's so much easier said than done, but I think it's great that your DH is also on board. Talk to him before-hand and get on the same page. That way, you both get to be "the bad guys" instead of it resting only on your shoulders. Good luck and congrats on your pregnancy!

post #3 of 19

I'm curious how your husband plans to handle his mother.  The son ER MD/mom OB RN sounds like a very curious combination (who trumps who?).  I would think that he would be the first person to inform and then handle the fallout from his mom. 


I'm afraid that you'll have to deal with a certain amount of dismissiveness from MIL no matter what;  I work in the medical field and there is a deeply entrenched disrespect of any kind of alternative approach to medicine, especially in the older generation.  Maybe you could invite her to share (if you can stomach it!) what her concerns are and just let her speak without interrupting or explaining.  Confirm that you 've heard her.  Ask if she'd like to hear your POV.  If she does keep revisiting the situation, ask what it would take for her to feel comfortable around it. 


Not knowing your MIL, I can't guess how entrenched she'll be in her position but if you can find peer reviewed studies to support the safety of homebirth, she may respond well to that.  (put your dh to work on that one!)  Good luck- if she continues to be unsupportive or to undermine you, do what you need to do to protect yourself and your family from negativity. 

post #4 of 19

Do you have to tell her? Much of our family did not know about our home birth until after. Most people just assume a hospital delivery and I just let them. I told those who I knew would be supportive, but that was about it.


People would ask what hospital we were delivering at and I would tell them the name of the hospital we have to go to for our insurance but never actually said we were having the baby there! So i was not exactly lying!


We also did not really inform too many people of any events until after the baby was born and then told them we were home (including the in-laws). Some asked questions and some did not.


I am not saying lie to her, but maybe you just don't have to tell her the whole truth and just let it be until after the fact. There are some people who will never understand or even try to and you don't need to spend your energy on them during this time.

post #5 of 19
Why would you even tell her?
post #6 of 19

I had almost the same issue with my DS2.. OB nurse MIL who had made comments about homebirth before... BUT, when we told her she didn't say much. Once she saw how much research we put into the subject, and learned about our MW (30+ years experience, backup OB she has worked with for 20+ years, etc etc) she eventually came to support our decision. 1

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks, it's really helpful to vent my apprehension about this and get some encouraging advice. I think we will wait until late in the pregnancy to tell her, unless she directly asks. At which point we'll keep our explanation short and sweet, offer literature if she's interested, and hope that she'll be more open minded than I expect. If she's really negative, I'm prepared to shut down the discussion without much fanfare...something like, "'It's our decision. If you don't feel you can be supportive, let's agree to disagree." 

post #8 of 19
Originally Posted by frannysmom View Post

Thanks, it's really helpful to vent my apprehension about this and get some encouraging advice. I think we will wait until late in the pregnancy to tell her, unless she directly asks. At which point we'll keep our explanation short and sweet, offer literature if she's interested, and hope that she'll be more open minded than I expect. If she's really negative, I'm prepared to shut down the discussion without much fanfare...something like, "'It's our decision. If you don't feel you can be supportive, let's agree to disagree." 

That sounds like a great way to go about it!


post #9 of 19

This was very helpful seeing as I am in a very similar situation. My MIL has been an OB L&D RN for about 15 years and we had to tell her about planning a home birth because she was repeatedly asking questions and making comments about "when we go to the hospital" ask for so and so, etc. She doesn't seem thrilled at all about the home birth and actually has tried discrediting the MW numerous times. It's not easy living in a family with lots of medical field workers (including myself) especially when my holistic approach is so unaccepted.

post #10 of 19

My MIL isn't in any medical profession, but I am still not looking forward to her finding out we are planning a homebirth. She made a comment about wanting to be here when we have the baby (I am not even pg yet, just hope to be soon) and so I don't think we can avoid telling her. She is gonna freak out and I don't want her causing problems being here. She thinks you should take a pill for everything and/or go to the doctor. I can't wait to hear her reaction to us not even going to a hospital. nut.gif


OP~ I hope things go well for you telling your MIL. Maybe she will surprise you and be supportive. I hope my MIL does.

post #11 of 19
I'm another one who is not mentioning our planned homebirth at all to my ILs. I honestly love them to pieces, but they will not understand and will worry themselves silly, send me homebirth scare articles, and well, it's not worth it.

We will let them know after our baby is safely here, and hopefully at that point they will keep their opinions to themselves.

My MIL and SIL did ask what hospital we will deliver at this time, and I simply said that our midwives attend births at ABC hospital (not a lie- they do have privileges there and if I risk out of a homebirth or need to transfer, that's where we will go).
post #12 of 19

OP and all others worried about MIL, I truly think this is DH's issue. He needs to step-up to the plate and protect his wife and family from HIS mother.  If I were in this situation,  I'd rely on DH to tell her, have DH also explain that this was our decision and citicism or abuse won't be tolerated.  If she has concerns then she should respectfully address them, but also respectfully listen to our answers.  While we haven't had this issue, DH does handle his family, and I handle mine, even though we are all quite close. 


Even if you are close with MIL or feel that there's no way around telling her, DH should be telling her and offering cover to you. This also sets important boundries for when the kids are around, since it does get worse and if she can bully and abuse you about this decision she WILL do it again.  Even if DH hasn't stood up to her before it's about time.



post #13 of 19

"Speak your truth without doing damage"


I don't recall where I first hear this, but it's so true.  In this case I would not use the "pass the dip" technique as it can come across as belittling or that you feel you need to hide something (by changing the subject). 


Since your MIL is in the field, I wouldn't give statistics.  I wouldn't say things like "statistically in low risk situations, home birth is safer".  She already thinks she knows all about the OB field and is obviously comfortable with that information.  But what she can't pretend to know is what the best choice for you is.  I would use phrases like "we feel this is the best choice for our situation."  "we're very confident in our midwife's abilities, and that's a relief after everything that we went through last time."  And if she continues after that and you get to the point where you're going in circles, I would either let her win without really winning or end the conversation.  To let her win, just say "We'll take that into consideration" or some other non-committal phrase.  Don't go so far to say "you are right", but a simple we'll look into it, or I'll ask the midwife about that might give her some satisfaction.  And as a last resort "We appreciate your concern, but this is ultimately our decision and the decision has been made.  We realize you may not agree and that's ok, but we hope you can still respect our decision."


If still, she cannot be respectful, I would tell her "MIL, we've given you our explanation and you cannot change our minds.  We have asked that you be respectful of our decision and if not then we'll have to ________".   Fill in the blank with limit our time with you, distance ourselves, not talk about it at all anymore, whatever you feel would fit.


Holy quote marks, batman!



post #14 of 19

You are a responsible adult.  


You are already a parent.


This is your baby.


This is your healthcare.


It is none of anyone's business, especially your MIL.  


You really do not have to tell her.  A woman I know who had her babies at home said that when she was asked what hospital she was delivering at, she just gave the name of her backup doctor and hospital.  That was it. You can tell MIL that and leave it at that.  


BUT, if you insist on having her know, it is time for your DH to step up and tell his mom to MYOB.  I do not care about how many babies she saved in her career, this is your baby and she needs to butt out and stay out.


My DH stood up to his family when we had our first child at home.  They never said a peep to me about it.  By the time we had #3 at home, she bought me a sexy nighty as a gift and told us to go make some more. She was elated.  

post #15 of 19

Great advice, Lisa!


I'm subscribing to this thread, because I am planning on TTC soon, decided on a HB* YEARS ago, and your situation is closer to mine than any other.  DH is totally on board, my MD mom (most of whose clinical experience was in the ER) is 90%+ on board (and will be there)... but I am dreading having to tell my former OB/GYN nurse grandmother (my dad's mom).  I've actually had DREAMS about trying to keep my cool when I explain-- and I'm not even pregnant yet!


It's just that on top of being a former OB/GYN nurse, she's a huge worrywart Jewish bubbe who can nag and fret to break the sound barrier.  And when my BFF had a baby a few months ago, my grandmother was just so so so relieved to hear that the MW practice she was working with has been forced to work out of a hospital (they couldn't afford to keep their FSBC).  "Because anything can go wrong blahbitty blah."  I just kind of let it go, but that was my confirmation that I'm going to have to sell this and/or close it to discussion.  And in any event, stay calm and be firm.  Ugh.  I'm such a huge loudmouth and so convicted, but I can't stand much straight-up confrontation...  And yet I'm sure that there will be no keeping this a secret.  I'm just a terrible secret-keeper and there would be way too many ridiculously detailed lies I'd have to tell... or ludicrous excuses or misdirections I'd have to use to change the subject-- because she's going to ask it ALL, like every little possible detail. 





*Assuming low risk blah blah.

post #16 of 19
OP here (lost my pw and apparently account was linked to an email I no longer have...so presto-chango, new username :-). Thanks, Lisa, for your thoughtful response -- lots of good nuggets there. Mmaramba -- I totally get the 'oh boy - this could suck' feeling, even so far in advance. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not pregnant yet either. Just starting to try for #2. What got me thinking so intensely about birth was that my SIL just had an UNplanned HB...so beautiful, it was her first baby and she was handling labor so well at home w/ her doula and DH that she passed through transition w/o quite realizing it. Then things happened fast w/ the urge to push, and there wasn't time to get to the hospital. Baby was born at a healthy weight w/ good coloring, good strong cry...clearly fine. Well, they'd of course called an ambulance during pushing, and from the moment the paramedics arrived panic ensued. Instead of realizing that a really lovely uncomplicated healthy birth had just occurred, they responded as though a life or death emergency was underway. They were rushed to the nearest hospital, baby separated from mom for hours, given all sorts of tests, iv antibiotics, a bottle of formula. They ended up in the hospital for 3 days! For no reason. It made me so angry and sad. It's what got my husband and I talking about birth, and how we were both just done with hospital birth.
post #17 of 19

Don't tell her. She doesn't need to know. It isn't even her place to be where you're at while you are laboring. She can be around after baby comes, but this is it. That is......if you choose to have that boundary to use. I strongly believe in not telling many people about my homebirth plans, and I am definitely not talking to my family very much about it, because it's none of their business how I choose to bring MY child into this world. They can support me(which I know they wouldn't do) or they do not need to know about it.

post #18 of 19

My mom is an OR nurse and my sister is a trauma nurse.  I don't talk to either of them about my plans to birth at home because it has been a contentious topic in the past and I don't need the stress.  My suggestion is to find people who are supportive and talk to them about it... leave the MIL in the dark.

post #19 of 19

OP, you mentioned that it's important to you to be honest and just tell your MIL.  And I can respect that.  However, when the conversation is broached, I wouldn't give room for discussion.  You and your partner have weighed the risks/benefits, and it's the decision that you have made for your family, period.


When you bring it up, be honest, but be firm:


"You are very important and valuable person in our lives.  We wanted to let you know that after very careful consideration, we'll be having a homebirth.  We thought you might be upset about this decision, but we also feel that honesty with those we love is very important, and we know that you are capable of supporting us even if you don't necessarily agree with us.  You are special to us, and we didn't want to leave someone so special in the dark.  However, this decision is not up for debate or discussion."


If letting her know your plans is really the course of action you want to take, that would be how I would approach it.  Best of luck to ya mama!!  My MIL was a peds nurse for 20 years, and I got a LOT of shit from her before I finally put my food down and told her that it wasn't up for discussion.  I think, sadly, allowing discussion just leads to hurt feelings.  And it isn't her decision, so she doesn't need to be discussing it, period.

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