There are a few things in life that makes everyone just flock to your door, and a brand new baby is one of them. They’re cute and small and have a special smell. A new baby perfectly represents life and it’s endless possibilities put into one small package and it is such a wonderful thing.
When you bring your new baby home (or even before you leave the hospital) you will start getting calls and texts declaring “OMG WHEN CAN I SEE THE BABY?”. Having a village to support you and your new baby is such a key thing for new parents, but having visitors show up anytime they want and expect you to host can be both physically and mentally exhausting for a new mom. So here are some suggestions for both your visitors and for you to make sure that boundaries are clear before visiting hours start.
For your Visitors – friends, family random neighbours.
Don’t show up unannounced.
Call or text and get permission to visit first. Between feedings and changings and appointments and older siblings, being home with a newborn can be very busy. So make sure mama is home and ready for visitors. And always check if it’s okay to bring your own kids or anyone else along to see the baby.
Do ask about mom.
How she is feeling physically and emotionally, and really listen to the response. Momming is hard, as most moms know, especially when your just starting out. Be someone who listens, supports, and validates. Maternal Mental Health is such an important thing and can get forgotten when everything becomes about the baby.
Don’t just be a visitor.
Try to be helpful when you come to visit baby and mama. Bring food, wash dishes, fold laundry, sweep the floors. When your healing from a birth and caring for a baby, things like housekeeping can fall behind, so having someone do a quick tidy or fold socks while visiting can be an amazing gift.
Do cuddle the baby.
Baby cuddles are such a lovely thing, to have a little person just snuggled up under your chin. But when you do cuddle the new arrival, offer mom a chance to nap or take an uninterrupted shower. A brief brake while knowing her baby is cared for can be a huge relief to mom. Sometimes we just need a few minutes to ourselves.
Don’t show up sick.
I know, I know, those baby cheeks are just so kissable! But babies are susceptible to many illnesses, especially things like RSV (a potentially serious lung infection). So please don’t show up sick, even if you only have the ‘sniffles’. Send your love and regrets via text and plan your visit for when you are well again.
Do offer help (and mean it)
If you offer to help, please follow through. Things that can be helpful to new moms are bringing food when you visit, running errands, or minding the older siblings for a few hours. We all know that life happens, but try and be true to your promise.
For Yourself Mama
Do not feel guilty saying no to visitors.
One more time for the mamas in the back – Do not feel guilty for saying no visitors.
You’re tired, you’re sore, your breasts are leaking, and you can’t remember when you showered last. You might not be up for visitors and that’s totally ok. Set your boundaries of when your visitors come and how long they can stay. Yes they might not be happy about it, but you know what’s best for you and your baby, and sometimes that’s some peace and quiet and time to yourselves.
Do ask your visitors to wash their hands before holding baby.
It’s pretty self explanatory, but a very important thing especially in the fall and winter months. No one wants a sick newborn, so feel free to be diligent.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you need someone to watch your other kids so you can take your baby to an appointment, or someone to come and just bring you coffee, ask for help. You might just be surprised how many people in your little village are willing to lend a hand.
Do say YES to help!
If a visitor offers to bring coffee, food, or take your older kids to a park, say yes. We mamas can’t be heroes and do everything, that’s how moms burn out.
Don’t be the hostess.
As women it seems drilled into our brains that when someone comes to visit, the house must be spotless, coffee must be hot and ready to go, and snacks must be available and Instagram-worthy. Time to get over that mama! Ask your visitor to put on the coffee, or bring some. Leave the house as is. Don’t feel like you need to run around and put out a full spread as your visitor snuggles your wee one, only to need you to care for her as soon as you sit down again.
A Couple of Quick Words About Visitors in The Hospital
Some hospitals have strict visiting hours, so always check the hospitals visitor policy before you call your family in. Be respectful to yourself and to your roommates if you’re sharing a room in the hospital.
And remember the Golden Hour – baby needs to be skin to skin with mom with minimal interruptions for at least 1-2 hours after birth to allow baby to transition and to facilitate bonding and breastfeeding. It is recommended to ask visitors to wait until after this time has passed before coming to visit.
Again, it’s okay to say no to visitors. They can see baby at home when you’re comfortable in your own space.