March 13, 2023

Ask Amy: We Have a Newborn - and Houseguests

What happens when the "help" from family right after a baby is born means constant houseguests (and more work?) Here's how to ask for the postpartum help you actually need.

Is the postpartum support you're getting actually more harmful than helpful? Here's how to ask for what you really need in the days and weeks after birth.

A listener wrote in to ask:

Has anyone found that 'more is not more' when it comes to help/house guests with a newborn? My in-laws have been here for a week (my newborn is two weeks old) and I'm finding it all more annoying and inconvenient than helpful to have "extra sets of hands."

I also feel like I'm exiled to the bedroom for all breastfeeding and just in general, because I can't handle the constant interaction and endless questions about what I'm doing, where I'm going, what I'm looking for in my own kitchen every time I wander into a common area.

I know my in-laws have the best of intentions and I feel in some ways I should be grateful for the extra help and grateful my son has such loving grandparents who want to spend time with him - but I'm just overwhelmed with resentment at the moment and taking it out on my husband for indirectly facilitating this scenario. Am I just being crazy and ungrateful?

As a new mom, YOU get to decide who's living with you and when! If at all! The first weeks of a newborn's life are for brief visits that don't interfere with routines or make things harder for the new parents. If your in-laws or family are smothering you, you are perfectly within your rights to ask them to leave (if they are staying) or to give you and your partner a little breathing room. Once your baby is older, you'll most likely welcome the help and social interaction from relatives, but for now, it's perfectly ok to just focus on recovering from birth and bonding with your nuclear family.

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