Having a baby generally means there will be lots of visitors around in the first few weeks. And this starts the moment the child arrives. With all your friends and loved ones gathering around your little one, it is important to find balance and time alone for your own family. Don’t be afraid to put some ground rules in place and communicate what’s best for you and your newborn.
The first thing to remember is that it’s your baby and it’s your body. The few first days after having a baby can be a whirlwind of emotions as you and your child both learn to feed, and you and your partner learn to deal with a newborn. And that doesn’t even take into account the exhaustion that is overwhelming at times.
For many women, visitors at the hospital are kept to a minimum. For some, it’s just family. For others, it’s just family and some close friends. There are a multitude of reasons for this and it’s something you should never, ever feel guilty about.
You need to rest. Whether your baby came into the world via a natural birth or a caesarean, you’ll need time to recover and regain strength. And if there are complications with the pregnancy or the birth, there’s even more prodding and poking over the next couple of days as they try to manage the aftercare.
Also, your baby needs you and you wholly. When visitors are streaming in and out of your hospital room, you can’t give your baby the attention they need. And don’t be fooled, for newborns, the attention is needed immediately. In addition to this, it’s highly unlikely that you will understand their cues so quickly. Often, the first few days are filled with questions as you and your partner figure out which cry means your child is tired, which means they’re hungry and which means they just want a little cuddle. With visitors coming and going, you may miss that precious time.
And don’t forget about the hormones that are racing through your body. It’s usually during the first week that the change in hormones is so extreme. You can often swing from feeling very high to feeling very low. You need time to process these changes and you need time to process them without anyone else in your space.
Finally, it’s perfectly acceptable to just want time to yourselves with your new baby. Many parents want to meet their new little addition on their own and many parents want a few hours just to themselves. This is perfectly understandable.
For many mothers, it’s much easier to welcome visitors into the home. Not only are you in your own comfortable environment, but it’s also highly likely that you will have somewhere to put the baby if she is sleeping so she doesn’t get disturbed by the steady stream of guests.
While sleep is at a minimum over the first few weeks, it’s also highly likely that you will sleep better in your own bed than in a hospital bed, so it’s likely that you will be a little bit more rested.
But remember, things can be stressful at home as well. You’re adjusting to a new person. You’re adjusting to a new routine. You’re adjusting to limited sleep. And often, many people want their home to be immaculate when visitors come. It’s also common that people want to play host when visitors arrive. Remember, you’re the one who has just had a baby. You’re the one who is sleep-deprived with another little human fully dependent on you. If anything, visitors should be making tea for you.
The most important thing to consider when you have visitors around is your baby’s immunity – or lack of it. If your child hasn’t had their vaccines and isn’t old enough to have developed an immunity even to the common cold you could be putting them at risk. So, when visitors are coming around, if they have even a hint of a cold, a sore stomach or an infection, you have every right to say no.
Also, even if visitors are well and healthy, don’t be afraid to tell them to wash their hands before they touch the baby, especially if they want a cuddle.
And don’t let your baby get overstimulated and tired. This means try to avoid passing the parcel. It’s understandable that your family and friends want to meet your little bundle of joy, but that doesn’t mean that their sleep and wellbeing should be at the mercy of other people’s cuddles.
Remember, this is only for a limited time. Once your baby is a few months old, it’s not that necessary to be so vigilant. But in the early days, they can catch anything and everything so be cautious.
First things first, this is your baby and your rules, and people should respect that. If you only want family to visit then that’s your prerogative. And if you only want visitors after the first 24 hours, well then, that’s fine too.
Be open and honest with people. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy conversation; a simple “thank you for your thoughts but we’d prefer to only see visitors at home” is very polite. People may get offended but that’s their problem, not yours. And when visitors are around, again be direct with your wishes, especially when it comes to touching and cuddling the baby.
Remember, your focus needs to be on your baby, your baby’s health and your relationship.