Photo by: iStock

Tips for Managing Visitors After Birth

by Pam Martin of "Mamapedia"
Photo by: iStock

You want to share your new baby with excited family and friends, but you’re exhausted, and you really want to spend time alone to bond with your infant. So, how do you manage to do both without hurting anyone’s feelings or starting a family feud? These tips should make things a bit easier.

Have a Plan
Decide before your expected delivery date when and where you want visitors: do you want family at the hospital immediately after your baby is born? Would you prefer a few days or even weeks at home before anyone stops by? What does your doctor recommend? These decisions should be based totally on Mom’s comfort level. This is a special time, and she should be able to set the rules!

Once you’ve figured out your plan, communicate it with family and friends. Sharon Schweitzer, international etiquette expert and founder of Protocol & Etiquette, advises you to be firm but polite. She says to have an email and social media posts ready, saying something like, “Mom and baby are resting comfortably. The family will be receiving visitors in several weeks. Thanks for your understanding of our need for quiet time with our new little blessing.”

Dr. Jackie Romanies, DC pediatric, pregnancy and family chiropractor, suggests something like a “baby meet and greet” event that gives your new family time to process everything while mom and baby recover physically, but still lets friends feel included and special.

Leigh Anne O’Connor, private practice lactation counselor, advises new families to set visiting hours, like hospitals do. This helps friends and family understand both when it is okay to visit and that visiting time will be limited.

Communicate Honestly
Dr. Jackie Romanies also advises providing a united front from the new parents. She says, “Let people know the best way to help, nurture, support and love you, your family and your little one. Have the confidence to do what is right for you.”

Ms. O’Connor also suggests an outgoing email and voice mail message that says, “Hello; thank you for calling/emailing. I am unavailable right now, as I am getting acquainted with my new baby. I will let you know when I am open to visitors.”

Another way of communicating your needs is to be specific, according to Lesley Yadon, MA, life coach specializing in first-time mothers. She suggests wording like, “I love you, and I really want you to meet our new baby, but I need some time to rest. You’re welcome to visit _______,” giving a day and time.

Use the Available Help
Samantha Ferguson, owner of Victoria Doulas, points out, " Even though you are no longer one and the same with your baby, you are still as important as your baby is to the family. You deserve time to shower, eat a nourishing meal, or even take a brief rest while knowing your baby is cared for by people who love them as well."

So, she and Carrie Willard, retired La Leche League leader and mother of seven, both emphasize the importance of accepting any help that is offered. Ms. Willard even suggests that you specify exactly what you want the guest to do, like loading the dishwasher or preparing a meal. For out-of-town family staying in your home, Ms. O’Connor suggests delegating tasks to them to give mom and baby some alone time. Send them out on errands that will take an hour or more, taking care of two needs at once.

Both Dr. Faisal Abdul Karim Malim, of IClinic, and Stephanie Larson, birth doula and recipient of USA’s National Birth Hero honor by One World Birth, advocate a “look but don’t touch” approach to visitors, too. Dr. Malim holds that only mom and dad should hold or touch baby for the first six weeks. This can be difficult to enforce; if you find that you can’t make it stick, insist on thorough hand-washing first.

Make use of your partner or best friend’s presence; let them be your gatekeeper and “bad guy” with those people who refuses to hear your requests. Let them coordinate visits, keeping it to a single visitor or family per day, for not more than an hour. In fact, ask them to “encourage” guests to limit their visit to no more than 15 minutes.

Finally, Ms. Yadon reminds new moms, “Mama, please know you are not responsible for other people’s feelings. Your job right now is not to take care of other adults, but o care for yourself and your baby.”

Pam Martin has been writing professionally since the early 1980s, on a wide variety of topics. She brings 20 years of classroom teaching and tutoring experience to the party, including early elementary classes and courses in writing, reading and literature, history, geography and government at middle and high schools. She is also accomplished in crafting and in writing about projects, including her blogs, Roots and Wings From the Village, The Corner Classroom, and Sassy Scribbler, which encompass crafting, cooking, lesson plans, and professional writing advice.

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