Given a chance, your in-laws would monitor your entire pregnancy if they could. In their eyes, you're cooking up their future grandchild, and this grants them automatic access to your life. As endearing as this can be, however, it can also become suffocating, making you feel like you have to consider your in-laws' reaction to every move you make throughout your pregnancy.
It shouldn't be this way—and it doesn't have to be. You and your partner should be cherishing the time before your baby comes together, doing things you might not have the opportunity to do for a while once the babies born. At the same time, you should also be allowed to prepare for your little one with excitement that isn't squashed by your in-laws need to be involved at every step of the process.
Here are some things you can do to remain in control of your pregnancy, despite what your pesky in-laws may want to happen.
1. Keep Things Private Until The First Trimester Ends
A lot of parents keep things private until the first twelve weeks have elapsed. This is because miscarriages are more likely within this time, and if one does occur, it gives the couple time to grieve without having to answer sympathetic calls from their closest friends and family.
It's also the period where morning sickness is usually at its worst, so dispelling as much stress as possible is essential. You should be as relaxed as possible throughout this time, so if your in-laws are going to threaten that with their judgemental comments, you might want to consider keeping things between yourself and your partner until the first trimester ends.
2. Set Boundaries From The Beginning
It's important to set boundaries for anyone in your life when it comes to your pregnancy, but with in-laws, the need to do so is even more critical. They might think they're being helpful by buying you a cot or a pram even though you might have already planned these items yourself. If you haven't told them, how are they supposed to know?
This works with advice, too. Tell them that you appreciate how things were when their significant other was born, but that things have changed since then. Keep reiterating this message until they seem to understand it, getting firmer about the boundaries if needed.
3. Tell Them You’ll Think About Their Advice
At the end of the day, in-laws often offer advice throughout pregnancy because they want to be helpful. Your mother in law might share information she's read on the internet or heard from her own experiences with pregnancy because she wants you to have the best experience as is possible.
The best way to deal with unsolicited advice, if you’re able to, is to let it go over your head. If you smile and thank them for their advice, there’s no reason why you cannot go on to continue your pregnancy without taking their advice on board. That way, you're showing your in-laws that you appreciate their input and are avoiding an argument at the same time. The last thing you need when pregnant is to get involved in a family argument that isn't easily solved, so something like this could definitely work.
4. Ask Your Spouse To Talk To Them
If your in-laws are starting to suffocate you with unsolicited advice and insistence on being around you always, ask your significant other—their child—to talk to them. They might not even realize they're overbearing, and it might sound better coming from their son, who has a unique relationship with them. They will be less likely to react angrily, and you may find that the rest of your pregnancy progresses perfectly, without further obsessive interactions with your in-laws.
5. Ask For Space
The easiest way to get your in-laws to understand where you're coming from is, to be honest with them. If you tell them you're becoming overwhelmed with their interference, they're likely to understand that you need space. This might convince them to go away or distance themselves from you for a couple of weeks so that you can spend quality time with your husband in the weeks leading up to your birth.
This doesn't have to be poorly worded, either, as long as the message comes across. You could only say you and your partner wish to spend some time together before the baby comes along, where getting time alone will be impossible.
6. Discuss Your Plans For After The Birth Beforehand
If you don't talk to your in-laws about what your plans will be after your baby is born in advance, they might automatically assume that they'll be notified the moment it enters the world.
It’s becoming a lot more common in recent years to keep things private for the first twenty-four hours after the baby has been born. This gives people the opportunity to get to know the baby in front of them and spend time as a small family unit before introducing them to extended family members.
If you tell your in-laws about your plans to do this in advance, they're likely to be a lot more accepting, or will at least come around to the idea over time. This means that you can spend time with your new baby without having their overbearing nature in the first twenty-four hours, at least. After that, some of our other articles, such as this one about how to deal with critical in-laws, might be beneficial for you to read.