The first two weeks after bringing home baby are sweet and special, but they can also be a little nerve-racking. Are they eating enough? Pooping enough? Is this stream of visitors bringing in cold and flu germs?
As a parent, you have the right and prerogative to determine who will visit during this time, and for how long. And yet you don’t want to cause any hurt feelings or strife within your family relationships. What’s an exhausted and leaky new mom to do?
As experienced postpartum doulas in the Denver/Colorado Springs areas, Colorado Mountain Doulas has had the privilege of helping many families navigate their unique dynamics to have a less stressful recovery period after birth, and we’ve picked up quite a bit of helpful experience along the way. Here are some of our best suggestions on how to handle friends and family visiting your new baby.
It’s Okay to Take a Break from Everything
“Cocooning” is becoming a popular term with new parents, and it’s no surprise why. This term refers to the practice of spending the first couple weeks with your new baby just resting and bonding at home – and especially keeping away from other people’s germs. No parties, no shopping, no church, no visitors hanging out – just staying warm and cozy and enjoying getting to know your new family member while your body takes the time it needs to heal. Maybe this sounds like a dream come true to you. If so, protect this time! Know that it is okay to prioritize your needs and wait to leave the house or let in visitors for a bit.
Or maybe this sounds like less of a dream and more of a nightmare. If you’re more of a “the more the merrier” type, that’s okay too. The important thing is that you put your needs first so that you can be the best possible parent for your new baby.
Institute House Rules
If you didn’t have your own set of “house rules” already, what better time than now that you’re parents with a kid of your own? You’re a grown-up now and you make the rules according to what you think is best for your family. Some of the rules our clients have instituted to help them feel better about all the well-wishers to include:
- Shoes off in the house to decrease dirt and germs around the little ones
- Wash hands before touching the baby
- No kissing the baby
- All visitors must be 24 hours symptom-free from any illness
- Visitors should be prepared to bring a casserole, sweep a floor, load the dishwasher, etc.
- Visitors must call in advance to schedule their visit
Protect Your Baby from Sickness
A baby is a pretty delicate little thing, and it’s your job to protect them from all the dangers of the outside world. If you’re breastfeeding, that will provide a lot of antibodies against illnesses, but it’s still important to be careful – especially if your baby was born early or has any medical conditions.
We’ve already mentioned staying inside during those early weeks, but that doesn’t help if a visitor brings an illness into your home. You might be surprised at how many people don’t think twice about popping a Tylenol and then going to visit a new baby even though they have had a cold, fever, or worse. It’s your job to insist upon friends and family members waiting until they are well before they come to your home. A kiss from a family member with a cold sore can turn disastrous quickly for a new baby. You can use our list of “house rule” suggestions above, or come up with your own.
When You’re Anxious About Confrontation
So you’re eager to stay inside, maximize your rest and recovery, and protect your baby from germs. But how can you meet those needs and also preserve some of those more volatile family relationships? If you have a parent, sibling, friend, or other loved one who tends to get hurt feelings or attempt to railroad your boundaries, we have some suggestions for that too.
- Utilize a sign or a social media post. Placing your “house rules” in an easily visible spot can help communicate your wishes to visitors without you having to specifically single anyone out.
- Babywear. This is a wonderful tactic for baby sprinkles, family Thanksgivings, and especially going out in public. With your baby worn snugly on your chest, most people will realize that they can’t be easily unwrapped and won’t bother trying to touch them, kiss them, or take them out of your arms.
- Blame it on your doctor. Believe it or not, this works in a huge variety of situations, especially with the older generations. A family member may scoff at your attempts at feeding, sleeping, car seat safety, or other hot topics, but is much more likely to respect the fact that this is the baby’s pediatrician’s recommendation. You can even ask for a handout or a note from the doctor regarding illness prevention or the importance of rest.
Your postpartum recovery is bound to come with some hormonal shifts, worries, and a few tears here and there. But you at least deserve to feel somewhat in control of who comes to visit your new baby – and how, and when. Try some of these suggestions for dealing with friends and family visiting after birth – and if you have any more tips that work great for you, be sure to leave a comment and share with us!