Some tips for managing visitors after your baby is born
The first weeks after your baby is born are a time of contradictory emotions, for some very good reasons:
- You just had a BABY! How cool is that? How amazing are her little hands and feet and her smell and her teeny face? This is definitely the best thing that has ever happened to you.
- On the other hand, you are more tired than you have ever been in your life. Not only did you endure all of the exertion and pain of birth, but now you need to feed your little cutie every 2-3 hours, and sleep deprivation is not very conducive to happiness.
- On the other hand, you’re taking a million billion pictures of every single expression on her tiny face and making sure the entire world sees how incredibly CUTE your baby is. You need to show off!
- On the other hand, you’re not necessarily feeling up to showing her off in person, because your hormones are going absolutely bonkers: in the first few days after birth, your estrogen drops 100 to 1000 fold. This affects everyone differently (just as not every woman has PMS), but it’s very common to zoom back and forth between euphoria and tears.
So it’s no wonder that when Laura Grace Weldon got an unexpected visit from her husband’s grandmother three days after her first child was born, she found herself in feral mama-bear mode, especially when the proud great-grandmother ignored the new baby’s displeasure at being held by a stranger. Visitors are going to happen when a new baby is born – everyone wants to meet them! – but in order to preserve your sanity (and avoid offending relatives), it’s important to lay down some ground rules.
Sylvia Brown, author of The Post Pregnancy Handbook, recommends using your husband or partner as a “watchdog.” Keep in mind that your partner may be feeling a little left out of all of the post-baby hubbub – this is his time to shine! As Amy Morrison of Pregnant Chicken points out, everyone finds it cute when dads are protective, so put that to good use.
Morrison also recommends an “out of office reply” approach: change your voicemail and your email to reflect that you’re simply not available. Try something like this:
“Thanks for your email (call). We’re just getting the hang of parenthood so forgive us if it takes a little longer than usual to get back to you. Don’t worry, we’re just fine and loving every minute of it.”
At all times, be gentle… but firm. It’s a good idea to decide on visiting hours, and enforce them tightly. Also, you make the rules: it’s ok to get annoyed if someone makes a grab for the baby! If someone asks you to wake the baby (no, seriously, people ask that!), for heaven’s sake, say no! And even if you don’t care if anyone sees you nursing, it’s a good excuse to simply leave the room when you feel that it’s time for a visitor to leave.
When you do allow visitors, don’t be shy about putting them to work! When someone who is desperately excited to meet your baby comes by, have them cook dinner, do the dishes, or simply hold the baby while you take a shower or a nap. They’ll be happy to do it, and you deserve it.
Finally: every family is different, every mom is different, and you may find that you WANT visitors! Blogger Alphamom writes:
“I wanted them there on day one. I really did. With Noah, my parents were still several hours away when I arrived in my room post-c-section and I SHOCKED myself by bursting into tears because I just wanted my mom. With Ezra, my parents couldn’t come visit at all because my dad was too sick, and I was so sad that they missed the sight of my new baby on his birthday. With Ike, my dad was gone but my mom and my in-laws were waiting patiently at our house and I again surprised myself by how badly I wanted to see them all — and for them to bring my other boys, just to fill the room with crazy, awesome chaos when Ike was just hours old. I was texting my room number to them and a slew of friends while I was being wheeled in the hallway and ordering them to get over already, I JUST HAD A BABY OMG YOU’VE GOTTA COME SEE THIS BABY!…
“Your desire to protect your privacy in those early hours may get thoroughly trumped by a delirious postpartum desire to have people see and witness and fuss over the little miracle you delivered. Or maybe not! You may find that you still have zero desire to see anyone a full 24, 36 hours later, just like you suspect. And that’s completely not selfish and totally your right.”
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