How to Manage Visitors After Birth
You’re nearing the end of your pregnancy and you are finalising plans for life with your new addition which includes seeing visitors after birth. Taking your baby home is one of the most exciting days in this new chapter. Settling your baby into their new home, getting into some kind of routine and taking care of your newborn are all part of the joys. In the first few days, you will likely have visitors after birth who can’t wait to see the baby.
As much as it’s nice to have visitors who care and and want to meet your baby, those first few days and weeks can sometimes feel like a blur. Giving birth is exhausting, emotionally and physically and those first few days take some adjusting to. Having a lack of sleep, hormones that are all over the place and adapting to the needs of a newborn can leave you with little time to think about anyone else. The first few weeks are an important time to bond as a family. This is even more true if you have older children. Bonding as a family is not so easy if your house is always full.
So how can you enjoy seeing visitors after birth without feeling overwhelmed?
How to Successfully See Visitors After Birth
Set Your Rules!
It may sound harsh but it’s difficult for well meaning friends and family to stick to your rules if there aren’t any. It’s easy to assume that a visitor should know not to stay for long, should know not to kiss the baby or not to visit if they are sick. The truth is though, a lot of people won’t think in the same way that you do when it comes to your baby. They won’t know what you think is acceptable or not, unless you have told them. Have a good think about what you would like the first days or weeks to be like. Talk it through with your partner and come to an agreement. He will also need to be in agreement with the rules if he is to ask his family and friends to stick to them.
Have Time Limits
Kindly explain that you haven’t had much sleep and you like to rest when the baby is sleeping. Yes, your guests will already know that you haven’t had much sleep but now is perfect time to remind them. Other options are to say that you like to cook, catch up on chores or spend time with older children when the baby is sleeping. Newborns sleep a lot, so it’s the perfect excuse to limit the amount of time visitors spend.
Outside of setting time limits, you may feel it’s easier to have specific visiting hours. This will allow you to be prepared mentally before they arrive and gauge an idea of how long they will be visiting.
Choose Your Visitors
Have a list of family and friends that are priorities to meet the baby and anyone else can wait. It’s OK if some friends or family wait a little longer. Your time is going to be busy with feeding, sleeping, not sleeping and adjusting. Trying to see everyone straight away just isn’t possible without feeling overwhelmed.
Encourage Group Visits
It can save you a lot of time if your loved ones coordinate their visits with other family members or with those within the same friendship circles. This could mean for example, that 20 people could become 5 or 6 visits rather than 15 – 20 visits!
No Sick Visitors After Birth
It is your duty to keep your baby safe and it really doesn’t matter how this one makes your guests feel. If they or someone they live with is sick, it’s best they come to see you at a later date. Your baby’s immune system won’t be developed much and they will pick up all sorts if exposed. Even a runny nose and a mild cold to an adult could be so much worse for a baby. It can interfere with their feeding and sleep which in turn makes for an unhappy baby, which in turn, makes these early days more challenging for parents. Having a newborn is a lot without dealing with a newborn with a cold.
No Children Please!
On the subject of colds, it’s best to keep children that are not your own away in these early days and weeks. Children’s hygiene isn’t always the best and they pick up so many bugs at school and nursery. They will have plenty of time to get to know your baby and play with them when they are a little older. For now, if possible, stick with adult visitors after birth.
Now is Not the Time to Entertain
Any other time that you have visitors you’re going to make sure they are comfortable in your home. You’ll provide food and drinks so they have a good time. After having a baby, it’s you that needs to be comfortable. Guests won’t expect you to entertain them and if you’re lucky, they’ll bring something for you to eat or drink instead! Those visitors after birth are likely very close to you and won’t be offended if you ask them to grab their own drinks!
I cannot stress this enough but there are so many germs that we pick up while out and about. The best thing any guest can do when they arrive at your home is to wash their hands. Keeping a bottle of hand sanitiser near by will remind not only you but also your guests. If you have any younger children, put them in charge of making sure everyone has washed their hands or used hand sanitiser before touching their baby sibling. Having children in charge of this will help to keep the subject light.
No Kissing the Baby
Believe it or not, so many people think it’s OK to kiss babies. It’s really not. There is simply no need. Unless they are someone that you don’t mind kissing your baby, then it’s a no go! This also goes with no touching the face. It’s so easy to spread germs this way.
No smoking before Visiting
Second hand smoke is no good for babies. This means being able to smell smoke in someone’s clothes and not just if they are smoking around the baby. If they can’t stick to this, it’s best to bypass this visit for now.
Have Your Husband Enforce the Rules
It might feel difficult to enforce your rules. After all, friends and family who want to see your baby are only keen because they love you and love the idea of meeting your newborn. However, in order to focus on what matters the most to you in those early days, might mean upsetting a few people along the way who don’t understand your reasons. It might be easier for your husband to let visitors know that “Mum’s a a bit tired today, we had a rough night and she likes to nap when the baby sleeps” or “With the baby being only 3 days old, we’re keen not to have anyone with a cold around the baby.”
Change your profile photos!
I’ve recently seen a friend change their profile photo to state something a long the lines of “please don’t message unless it’s urgent, small talk can wait”. I thought it was genius! You are getting used to your new life and while a family member or friend might not physically be there with you, you feel the need to message back and it can take up a lot of time, especially if there are lots of people messaging. The messages can be so overwhelming. Everyone wants to ask how the baby is, how you are, if you’ve slept, if the baby has slept, is the baby feeding well, how are you all adjusting, how the birth was. The list goes on.
While you could spend all day talking about your baby, you don’t really have the time. With messaging these days, you almost feel rude if you don’t get back in a timely manner, which is pretty much instantly these days. Which takes me to my next point.
It’s OK to Respond to Messages and Phone Calls LATER
Unless they are urgent, take your time and message or call back at a time that’s convenient for you. This might be hours or even days later. That’s OK. Most people will accept that you are busier now. In time, life will settle down but for now, focus on the baby, yourself, your partner and other kids.
It’s OK to Change Your Mind
You might find that the rules you had set just aren’t working for you. It’s your baby. If you don’t feel comfortable with your rules once you’ve had the baby, that’s OK. You might feel you don’t want visitors anymore or you might want to see more people sooner. That’s OK! They are your rules!
Although some might not like your rules, any issues will likely be soon forgotten. Remind anyone that doesn’t appreciate your rules, that soon enough, they will be able to spend plenty of time with your baby without all of the limitations.
All in all, this is about managing your days in what can be overwhelming time. Take everything in your stride and focus on your recovery and the needs of your baby.