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Hospital Visitors

by Stacey Stratton • April 11th, 2016

By Cheryl Donahue, LCCE, IBCLC, Med, HBB, and Stacey Stratton, CCCE, CD(DONA)

The birth of a newborn baby is exciting, scary, surreal, and can be overwhelming at times. You are trying to learn all about this new little person and your family and friends are excited and eager to welcome the baby. The anticipation is so tempting, when pregnancy is reaching the due date, to want to share your new baby with friends and family! However, stop and consider realistically what your immediate postpartum experience in the hospital will be like.

Birth is hard and exhausting on both you and your birth partner, whether you have medication or birth naturally! You will need time as new parent(s) to adjust to this new and sometimes scary phase of life. Many people will want to visit you either at home or in the hospital. Are all these visitors a good idea? Will you want visitors at all? How do you manage the sometimes overwhelming requests of visitors?

Follow these tips, and you’ll get through the first hours, days and weeks of well-wishers just fine!

1. Make a general announcement.
Send a quick text or email with a few details of your new baby and some pictures soon after birth, so that you can take some time for your new family. Specify in the message if sharing on social networks is appropriate or not.

2. Limit hospital visitors to your immediate family or only grandparents.
Give yourselves time right after birth to make the transition to being a parent. Although you have been a parent for the past nine months, actually seeing and holding this baby, now on the outside, can really overwhelm you. It is important to have an hour or two, as long as mom and baby are doing okay, to just be with your new baby, without interruption. Most of the newborn procedures such as weighing and measuring can wait. Just cuddle, kiss, and do lots of skin-to-skin in those first hours. Remember partners can and should hold baby skin-to-skin as well!
When you are all settled in your maternity room, it will be time to learn feeding techniques, diapering, responding to baby’s crying, and much more. Most insurances only cover hospital stays for 48 hours after a vaginal birth and 72 hours after a c-section birth. That is the only time you will have in the hospital to learn your baby and have the opportunity to gain confidence before you are on your own without those wonderful nurses to guide you and answer questions! Also, as the newly delivered mom, whether by C-section or vaginally, you will be sore and tired! Close your door, snuggle with your newborn, and get some rest.
If you would like to email or print our new baby visitor message, please do!

3. Use Your Nurses as Buffers.
Labor and Delivery and Postpartum Units are all locked units, so you will never be surprised by an unexpected visitor walking into your room. Ask your nurse to help manage the flow of visitors by asking if you are receiving visitors or informing your visitors that you need to rest right now. Request that any visitors only come between particular hours that are convenient for you. If you have guests who might overstay their welcome, ask the nurse to come after 15-30 minutes to tell those visitors you need to rest – doctor’s orders! Also, many hospitals are encouraging quiet times during the day in the postpartum unit, so use this to your advantage, and ask visitors to respect that quiet time.Over the Moon

4. Schedule visitors at home
If your partner is taking time off following the birth of baby, continue to limit visitors during that time. This allows you to adjust to your new normal, and gives you time to nap and get more practice in breastfeeding and, or caring for your new baby. Schedule visitors, especially those who haven’t had a chance to meet baby yet, for when your partner goes back to work. Sometimes mothers feel isolated at home with a new baby, and having friends and family visit during those times are a great way for her to reconnect and get additional support and companionship.

5. Remember you are not required to entertain your visitors
Yes, you have people coming into your home. They are coming to hold and meet baby and see how you both are doing. They really do not care that you have not cleaned your house recently. Do not pressure yourself to provide snacks or entertainment. Welcome them in your pajamas or sweats if you haven’t accomplished a shower that day. Better yet, have them hold the baby so you can shower!

6. Accept help if offered
Speaking of that shower, if anyone offers to help, say, “YES!” It can be really difficult to accept offers of help; especially if we are trying to prove to others (or ourselves) that we can manage these new parenting roles. If people are offering to help, they genuinely want to help. It will make both of you feel really good to accept that help. Using the app Lotsahelpinghands.com, you or a friend can even create a calendar for people to care for you by dropping off meals, doing some laundry, or walking the dog.

7. Lay out some ground rules for visiting
Let your visitors know how long the visit will be or word it so they will know you might need to have them leave sooner if baby or you needs a break, a rest, or to eat. Setting expectations early on can limit any hurt feelings later.

8. Keep reasonable expectations for yourself
You grew a baby and gave birth to this baby – that is impressive, hard work. No one expects you to bounce right back and be superwoman at this early part of your parenting journey. Give yourself permission to rest, learn, and enjoy your new baby. You deserve this time. Your baby deserves this time. Take it and cherish it!

Want to learn more about those first moments with your baby? Take one of our childbirth, breastfeeding or newborn care classes. We hope to see you there!

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