Born into a big family, I was always comfortable and looked forward to family gatherings. Therefore naturally, I didn’t put much thought into how early I wanted company around after giving birth. I completely disregarded how uncomfortable, how tired, how “ugly” I might be and how exhausting it is to be present for others when really you just want your own space.
Giving birth is without a doubt a joyous occasion. Every pregnancy has a story of its own and by right, some would have friends and family just waiting to celebrate you and baby the moment you pop! I remember having my entire extended family visiting me on the first day. I had just gotten married a little over a year so everyone was so excited to meet my little bundle of joy.
Now, as exciting it to have this show of love and support, you might want to set some ground rules. Remember that is your journey. You and your baby’s wellbeing must become top priority and ensuring a safe, comfortable environment will help you immensely during the first few weeks of postpartum. This is the time where you are just trying to adapt to your new role and that can be messy. Understanding your baby’s cues, figuring out breastfeeding positions, deciding which confinement tradition you want to forego or stick to, listening to baby’s cry day in and day out, adjusting to the pump life if that’s what your baby has decided for you and on top of that, you’re sleep deprived.
Need I say more?
Read on to learn the etiquettes of visiting a newborn and how setting boundaries can result into respectful visitors and a happier you.
Etiquettes of Visiting Baby and You
Seeing as this may be your first time facing this situation (maybe even your second or third) but we’ve definitely found ourselves on the other side of childbirth where we might’ve not considered the family’s feelings before scheduling a visit. Before we know it, we’re at the hospital smothering the baby with little cuddles, teeny kisses and taking precious resting moments from new momma.
So here is a list of simple “do’s and don’ts” that you can take into account to prepare yourself and even perhaps share with your loved ones to help them ease your postpartum journey.
1. DO Make Visits Short and Sweet
A lot of us/our visitors assume popping by to visit is doing us a favor. When, well, it’s debatable. Some may find it as a breath of fresh air holding adult convo again rather than their daily baby talk at home, but a lot of new moms find it very overwhelming because being around others can tire them out even more.
Be mindful that others are most likely visiting too hence why it’s important to keep your visits short and sweet. While you’re there, try to minimize the new parents from accommodating to you but instead offer a helping hand however way you can.
2. DO Come Bearing Gifts
When celebrating a newborn, it’s common courtesy to not come empty handed. New parents are often swamped with gifts for their little bubba, therefore, there is no harm in asking parents what they would like for their new baby. Requesting for specifics does not make you lazy, in fact, it lightens the load off of you from wondering what to buy and also reducing the number of same gifts the little newborn may receive from other visitors too.
Gifts do not need to be expensive as it’s the thought that counts. Flowers, a home-cooked meal or even a treat for either mom or dad would be great. And if the new baby has siblings, keep them in mind and surprise them with a little gift so that they too, can bask in the love that’s going around.
Work around your budget and get creative.
3. DO Sanitize
If there’s something that Covid has taught us, it’s that proper hygiene matters and goes a long way. So upon arriving for your visit, make an attempt to wash your hands. This sets a good tone with who you are visiting and they may also feel more at ease knowing you are hygiene-conscious.
Infants are very susceptible to infections or colds so please be vigilant about sanitizing, washing your hands and keeping your face mask on at all times.
4. DO Help Out
For those who live on their own, having visitors over can be a little daunting as your home may not be in its usual tip top shape. So when you do pop over for a visit, it doesn’t hurt to extend help as acts of kindness like this can really do wonders for both parents sanity.
Cleaning may not be the first thing both parents prioritize at that point of time so spare the judgements when you pay a visit okay? Besides, new parents are exhausted. Washing dishes, sweeping, vacuuming, tidying up anything that seems out of place are just some of the things you can do and will definitely go appreciated.
5. DO Offer to Babysit
To be honest, when new parents hear visitors are coming, our first thoughts are usually selfish which is – “okay, I hope they play with my baby long enough so I can sleep”.
Yes, true story from me and a lot of moms. Being sleep deprived, we probably won’t be the best host during the first few weeks of postpartum. Sleep deprivation is real and just like everything else, we are still trying to manage it with the best we’ve got. If you are able to spare some time and babysit, trust me when I say that the parents will appreciate this above and beyond anything else.
Allowing them to catch up on a some zzz’s, gives both mom and dad better energy to parent. Moms are able to produce breast milk on better sleep while Dads can care for mom and baby with greater ease too. Moreover, more sleep and rest time helps moms keep baby blues at bay.
1. DON’T Show Up Unannounced
The first few weeks post childbirth is the most intense. Sleep deprivation and hormonal imbalance are two major factors why visitors should respectfully give new parents some space to adjust to their new roles. We are emotionally, physically, and mentally drained but also continuously recovering.
This process alone can require parents some time to properly function before entertaining others so its only appropriate that you ask permission to visit.
2. DON’T Bail Last Minute or Change Plans Often
If there’s one thing that I remember clearly after giving birth, was feeling relieved after a relative or friend cancelled their visit. No offence and we know you mean well, but so do we. A cancellation may not seem that big of deal to a visitor but do keep in mind that allocating time for guests to visit is not an easy matter for all new parents.
It's important to try and stick to your arranged visit. If you must reschedule, give heads up way in advance. New parents have limited time and energy, it’s on visitors to respect that.
3. DON’T Gesture or Ask to Touch the Baby
This is a sensitive question for many parents. There could be those who are comfortable with others cuddling their baby but there are also some who aren’t. Parents who do appear to be comfortable may not entirely be so as some may just not want to make their guests uncomfortable or offend them. Whatever their reason is, respect it and understand that it is in the baby’s best interest.
Germs are hazardous to babies and especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, any parent would be more wary to accept visitors what more have them hold and kiss their newborn.
4. DON’T Visit if You Are Not Well
Even if it’s a flu or an overnight fever that’s gone away, it’s best to stay at home and reschedule. Don’t rush the visit as it will only leave the parents on their toes wondering about their visitor’s wellbeing. New parents already have a lot on their plate to think about.
Visiting when you’re unwell will only expose others to your germs. The last thing you would want to do is threaten the family’s wellbeing who’s health is already compromised from lack of sleep and a building immune system.
5. DON’T Show Up with Extra Guests
New parents have limited time and energy, hence if you intend on bringing extra guests along with you, ask permission first before the visit. This applies too for children. If you’re given the green light, talk your chid through the do’s and don’ts of being in a home with a new baby:
- Do not touch the baby
- Do not speak or play too loudly
- Do not touch things or leave a mess
6. DON’T Offer Unsolicited Advice
Okay, I’m going to be rather blunt but my, my, my, this is one pet peeve that I believe all new parents find rather annoying. We understand that behind every advice there’s intentions of good-will. Entering parenthood is new grounds for new parents so any advice offered may be perceived as judgmental.
As new parents, trust that we are trying our best. We might even go into panic mode when guests are around causing us to feel pressured observing how we parent our way through baby cries and diaper changes. Hence, only offer advice or share your thoughts when asked.
Bottom line, when visiting a new baby, these are some simple do’s and don’ts to keep yourself/your visitors in check before anyone oversteps common-sense boundaries. Remember, the visit is about the newborn and its family, not you. New parents should not be made to feel guilty about how they host during this tiring, testing phase.
So take these tips into consideration and you will create a more pleasant postpartum experience for the new family proving that they have support from respectful, understanding family and friends. Share this article with expecting parents, new parents and your inner circle to keep them well informed on the sort of postpartum you would like.
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