I meet a lot of new moms in my line of work. Of the stressors that come along with having a baby, dealing with visitors during the postpartum period is a universal one. New parents are excited to introduce their little ones to friends and family but often feel reluctant, intimidated, and pressured into it at the same time.
Even visits with trusted loved ones and well-meaning friends can be unnerving for new parents as they navigate the early, unpredictable newborn days. Sleep deprivation, pain, anxiety, and postnatal hormone fluctuations can add to what is intrinsically a demanding time. That fourth trimester is no joke.
Here are three reasons to consider delaying visitors in the first few days, weeks, or months after your baby’s birth. I hope these points help empower you to make the right decision for you and your family. Remember, your needs take priority.
Reasons to Consider Delaying Visitors
1. You’re exhausted, emotional, and leaking multiple bodily fluids concurrently.
In case you’re wondering, it’s blood, breastmilk, probably tears, possibly sweat, and potentially urine. You’re sleep-deprived and your body has been through quite an ordeal. You’ve either pushed a watermelon-sized baby out of a lemon-sized orifice or you’ve had major abdominal surgery through seven layers of tissue. Either way, your body needs time to heal.
And let’s not forget about your mind. You’ve just become a mom! This is huge and life-changing and scary and amazing and maybe even traumatic. You have a whole lot to process around your birth story, whether it was pleasant or upsetting. Couple that with a lack of sleep and the baby blues and buckle up for a rollercoaster of emotions.
Delaying visitors for the sake of your physical and mental health is paramount. Lock the door, sit on your icy cold postpartum pad, and cuddle that baby in peace.
2. You and your baby are basically strangers; you have a lot to learn about each other.
Sure, you may have been housing the kid for nine months but you two haven’t actually met yet. You have no idea what his or her personality will be like and vice versa. It’s important for new parents and their babies to have uninterrupted time together to bond and get comfortable with one another. Make sure to protect it or you may feel resentful of visitors cutting in on time meant for connecting with your baby.
The early days are all about decoding behavior and developing a routine. What does this cry mean? How do I get him to latch correctly? Is her poop the right color? Your days will be spent troubleshooting everyday life with your baby and having visitors may distract you from getting to know him or her as quickly.
Delay visitors until you’ve had sufficient time to bond with and learn about your baby. It’s a sacred time.
3. Your baby’s immature immune system is vulnerable to germs.
During pregnancy, babies get some of their mother’s antibodies that help to protect them from illness once they’re born. However, babies still have underdeveloped immune systems that take two or three months to mature. Most babies are eligible for immunizations at two months old so there’s a gap from birth to two months where they’re especially susceptible to germs.
It’s smart to mitigate risk when it comes to your baby’s health, especially in the earliest days. You may consider delaying visitors as a way to protect your baby’s immune system, especially during cold, flu, and RSV season. COVID-19 adds another layer of concern too.
Keep your baby safe by doing all the things: wash your hands frequently, wear a mask when sick, stay up-to-date on your vaccinations (including Tdap for whooping cough), and don’t kiss them on the head or face. Make sure everyone he or she comes into contact with follows these guidelines as well.
What if I do have visitors early in the postpartum period?
Sometimes we want the special people in our lives to visit, even if we’re working on just two hours of sleep, feeling weepy, and dealing with cracked nipples. Social support is amazing when it IS supportive. Here are some suggestions for making visits work for you.
- Welcome only the people you love and trust — your VIPs. Accept visits from people you’re less close with — or those you anticipate being less considerate guests — when you’re a more seasoned, rested new parent.
- Establish boundaries. Make sure you’re on the same page as your partner regarding who can visit and how long they can stay. It’s especially important to set boundaries around out-of-town guests who intend to stay at your house. (You’re allowed to say no, by the way).
- Encourage visitors to call ahead to schedule their visit. Don’t accept pop-ins!
- Put your guests to work. Does the dishwasher need unloading? Does the clean laundry need folding? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Don’t play hostess. Just don’t.
- Remember: you are the queen of your castle. If the visit is not serving you, politely ask them to leave. Your health, sanity, and the safety of your baby are all more important than their hurt feelings.