Managing visitors and out-of-town guests
As you prepare for the birth of your baby, it’s also helpful to think now how you want to handle visits from those who love you and want to meet your baby in the days immediately following his or her birth.
For some, having visitors is a welcome part of their day while others find it overwhelming and disrupting. How you will feel in this situation is personal to you and may also depend on the nature of your birth and your baby’s delivery, and how you and the baby are settling into your new roles. For some this may be straight-forward, but for others challenges with breast-feeding, settling the baby and contending to other children can take time (and space) to master.
It’s worthwhile to start thinking about this now so that you are able to be proactive and feel in control of what happens in that time after your baby arrives.
Family and friends are known to stop by the hospital after the baby is born, despite not receiving an invitation to do so. If this is something that you think will be a disruption or a source of stress for you, you can avoid it from happening by simply communicating clearly in advance that the hospital will be a private time for you to be with your baby.
Another thing to think about is whether you may prefer a group of people to visit together (such as a group of friends or a side of your family) or spaced out individual visits. If you have a preference, you can proactively and strategically shape the number of people per visit by how you engage with them over email, SMS or the phone.
Before they visit, many of your guests will ask you what they can bring, and it is 100% okay for you to take them up on the offer! From takeaway food to a hot coffee or a trashy magazine, your visitors can be extra helpful by bringing you something that will make your day brighter (as opposed to just a gift for the baby). You won’t always be reliant on others to bring you things, but for now it is much easier for them to make a quick stop into the shops than it is for you, and they’ll also be happy to have made a difference in your day.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that despite the best-laid plans, your schedule may be subject to change rapidly based on how you or your baby are faring. Don’t be afraid to have to reschedule at the last minute. Your family and friends will understand, and you need to put the needs of you and your baby first.
In today’s modern world, it is not uncommon to live far away from family and, therefore, many new mums have to contend with the question of when and how they want their faraway family to meet the new baby after birth. Every family dynamic is different, and you will need to keep in mind all of the different logistics and desires as you determine how to handle this situation.
However, it is important not to underestimate your need for physical and emotional recovery post-birth. This is one of the first opportunities you may where you have to manage your priorities differently by putting you and your baby’s needs first.
Many new parents report that having out-of-town guests immediately after birth negatively impacted their ability to have the time and space they felt they needed during that important time. Some felt a burden to entertain or cater for their house guests and, therefore, felt an unnecessary extra source of added pressure and stress. For others, the family dynamics were intense and the presence of a new baby heightened already existing tensions. Parents who had wanted to say no to out-of-town guests visiting right after the birth but did not do so for whatever reason felt particularly resentful if the time was overshadowed by negative feelings.
Remember, the true focus of your energy during this time should be on you and your family. If you believe that having out-of-town guests will be helpful, it can be a wonderful time to have them there. However, if you believe that they will feel like more of a burden than a help, you may want to strongly consider making this clear to your family and inviting them to come once your baby is a bit older.
If you do ask your family to delay their visit, you can do so in a sensitive way that acknowledges their desires and expectations. Remind them that they will have a lifetime to get to know your child. And, remind yourself that self-care is critical for new parents and that you are making a difficult or unpopular decision in order to put you and your baby first. It can also be comforting to all to know that many new mums find that the help that family can provide with the baby is pretty minimal initially. So by pushing off the trip a bit, your family will be able to meet their baby and provide you with help in caring for him or her.
Finally, you may find that visitors are all too generous in their advice and opinions on what you should be doing with your baby and find it helpful to read more about managing the advice that will be flowing your way.