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Navigating Visitors with a Newborn: How to decide what’s best for you and your baby, and how to communicate with your loved ones

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When our first baby was born in August 2019, we had fourteen different visitors over the first two days of Dawson’s life, some people visiting more than once! I have some really special memories attached to those first days. My dad, who had been pretty reserved throughout my pregnancy, cried tears of joy and as he was leaving said ‘thank you for giving me one of the best moments of my life’ to me and my partner Kiel, and family, friends, my uncle and cousins who happened to be visiting from Seattle, got to meet Dawson on the day he was born.

When our second baby was born in September 2021, we were allowed one visitor. Kiel suggested my mom be the visitor, and she was honored to meet Deacon on his first day earthside. The first two days of Deacon’s life felt markedly different. Latching felt more intuitive and easeful as I could nurse my baby uninterrupted and not feeling like I needed to cover up whenever someone came in, and I was able to sleep more during the day to recover, and have a lot of special moments with our new baby.

This is to say, having visitors right away, or being empowered to set boundaries, are both wonderful. It is your decision what is best for you, your recovery and your babies’ health. And, how you feel when you’re pregnant could be different from how you feel after your baby arrives. Here are strategies and ideas on how to welcome, or ask loved ones to wait to visit, after your baby is born.

Consider when you tell loved ones you’re in labor, and once baby is born: After waiting months to meet your baby, it can be so exciting to feel the beginning of labor. And your loved ones will be excited too! This can mean people checking in and wanting updates when you are in your physical body laboring and birthing, and that isn’t the time to be responding to texts. Waiting to let loved ones know your baby has arrived until after the Golden Hour (the first hour after baby is born for bonding) and even the first day, can create really special moments of time together, soaking up your new baby and your new identity as a parent, either for the first or fifth time, and give you time to breast/chestfeed uninterrupted, and get rest after all of your hard work.

Phrases to use when navigating visitors with your newborn:

  • When pregnant: “We’re not sure how we’re going to feel once baby arrives. We are so looking forward to you meeting our baby (your grandchild / niece) and will let you know as soon as we’re ready for visitors.”

  • If you’d like to wait for visitors: “For our baby’s health and our new family’s time to bond and recover, we are not having visitors for the first two weeks. This helps protect our newborn’s immune system, allows mom time to heal, and gives our family precious  bonding time together. We understand you’re disappointed, and thank you for respecting our wishes. “

  • For out of town visitors: You can use the same language of, “we’re not sure how we’re going to feel when baby arrives. Let’s make a plan for you to visit a couple weeks after baby is here.” Or “we’d love to have you visit when baby is about <insert time like two months> old, when baby is in a more predictable sleep and feeding routine, so we can best enjoy our time together.”

  • What to say to visitors:

    • “We’re so happy you get to meet our baby! As our feeding / sleep schedule is still being developed, we ask that you keep visits to one hour so everyone in our family can get the rest and food they need.”

    • “Thank you so much for visiting! I know you offered to help, in addition to holding baby, a home cooked meal / loading the dishwasher / bringing a latte / starting the laundry, would be so appreciated.”

    • Baby’s health:

      • “We ask that you visit when you’re healthy, and if you’re not feeling well we can find another time for you to visit soon.”

      • “If you’d like to meet our baby, we ask that you are up to date on vaccines (can include flu, Covid, whooping cough), or mask when you meet our baby.”

      • “Please make sure to wash your hands before holding our baby, and avoid touching our baby’s mouth.”

Set a time for friends to meet your baby: After Deacon, our second baby, was born, one of my closest friends planned a ‘sip and see’ at my request (in lieu of a baby shower / sprinkle) to meet the baby two weeks after he was born with brunch, quality time together, sharing the birth story and a lot of laughs.

No matter the response, remember that you and your baby’s wellbeing, and your comfort level, is what’s most important. 

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