When preparing for the birth of a new baby, there are plenty of details to consider and account for, not least those all-important moments in the delivery room. There’s no denying that becoming a grandparent is a very exciting transition, but there are a few factors to mull over before adding your name to the birthing suite guest list.

Respect the mother’s needs

The birth of a child is one of those precious times when a mother can and should put herself and her own peace of mind above all else, and it’s worth keeping that in mind when you feel tempted to express your own deep desires. If you’re both comfortable with doing so, have a discussion about the birth plan, as well as the mother’s needs and personal boundaries. The mother and father might decide that having a few people at the birth sounds like a great idea, but even if they’re averse to the idea of a growing guest list for the occasion, there are plenty of other ways to be involved in this momentous experience. For instance, you might ask for permission to attend a doctor’s appointment and witness an ultrasound of the growing baby – thanks to 4D technology, this experience can deliver much of the same wonder and excitement of seeing your grandchild for the first time without the pain and mess of delivery.

Consider relationship dynamics

Childbirth is a daunting undertaking for any mother, and it can be made easier or more difficult by the people she chooses to have by her side. Before rushing into anything or pushing your own desires on your daughter or daughter-in-law, really think about the relationship you share with her and how she generally feels in your presence. A calming influence could be invaluable, whereas anything else may just add to her stress, so be mindful of the effect you typically have on her at when discussing plans.

Take the father into consideration

Even if you are invited into the delivery room to witness the birth of your grandchild, be mindful of the bond shared by the new mother-to-be and her partner. The birthing process is an opportunity for new parents to strengthen their bond immeasurably, especially if they should choose to navigate it alone as a couple. Of course, a woman in labour should feel justified in asking for whatever help and support she needs, and that may include her mother or even her mother-in-law, but you should avoid imposing your company without the blessing of the father as well. They may not be so keen on the idea of sharing such an intimate experience with anyone else, mothers included.

Express your views with care

Although you may have strong feelings about who should be invited into the delivery room, the parents-to-be are sure to have a few of their own. It’s only natural for new grandmothers to want to be part of their grandchild’s first moments in the world, when in reality many parents prefer the brief visit in the days after the birth. If being in the room is of serious importance to you, take the time to explain your position, but don’t push the point – you’re unlikely to get what you want, and will probably only cause damage to the relationship between you and your daughter or daughter-in-law.

Prepare for every situation

Not only is planning for childbirth helpful for managing stress as pregnancy progresses, but it’s also a necessary part of preparation for many mothers-to-be. Even so, the written birth plan may not align with the situation that eventuates, which is why it’s so important to be flexible. For example, you might have the blessing of the mother-to-be to attend the birth as a source of support, but in case things don’t quite go to plan, there’s nothing wrong with visiting or calling the next day.

The bottom line is that navigating such a touchy subject requires plenty of sensitivity towards the feelings of those involved. The birth of a new baby is a time of emotional extremes, and no one feels the strain more keenly than the mother-to-be, so put your the needs of your daughter or daughter-in-law ahead of everything else and you’ll be starting grandparenthood on the right foot.