Once upon a time, mother-in-law jokes were a staple for stand-ups like Les Dawson, who once cracked: "I can always tell when the mother in law's coming to stay - the mice throw themselves on the traps. "
But a survey of 2,000 women commissioned by The Baby Show suggests that they often play a valuable role in the family, as trusted sources of advice and support for new parents.
Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of new mums told researchers that they consult their mother-in-law for parenting advice, and nearly a quarter (22 per cent) ask the paternal grandmother to look after their baby within two weeks of the birth.
Grandparents are becoming an increasingly vital source of childcare, with costs of nurseries soaring and working families fast becoming the norm.
And despite the fact that mothers-in-law have often been portrayed as overprotective, domineering dragons who resent a girlfriend or wife taking their boy away, the poll reveals that many women have a close bond with their partner's mum.
One in five women told researchers that they would even choose her as a birthing partner, while 80 percent of new mums said that their mother-in-law was in the delivery room just minutes after they gave birth.
Some of the old stereotypes still hold true, however, with 10 percent of respondents complaining about their in-laws' 'unwanted advice'.
Baby expert Dr Ellie Cannon told the Express that it was vital that new mums put themselves first, even at the expense of affronted family members.
"When you are sleep deprived and recovering from labour, it is not worth wasting what vital precious energy you have on anything other than yourself or your baby, so don't worry about offending in-laws or anyone else for that matter too."
More on Parentdish: Why I love my mother-in-law
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