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In the days and weeks after your baby is born, you’re supposed to be spending your time blissfully in the fourth trimester, getting to know your new little babe, and recovering from one of the biggest physical and psychological events you’ll ever experience. You’re not supposed to be worrying about how you’re going to be dealing with visitors after birth, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
A newborn baby is like a magnet for so many people. Some even go so crazy and act like they’ll be in physical pain if they don’t get the see the baby (I had one friend whose sister in law literally had a tantrum about not seeing the baby at the hospital – yes, she was an adult). Then there are all the people who decide that the moment you have a baby is the perfect time to catch up, even though you haven’t seen them for 2 years or ever actually socialised with them before.
Here are a few ways you can deal with visitors after birth so that both you and babe get the rest and recovery you need, while still being able to share and show off your new babe to the people who matter the most to you.
1 – Set Clear Boundaries Before Birth
When my son was born, I hadn’t really thought about the visitor’s side of things because we knew he was going to be in NICU and that was our entire focus. We quickly learned that there were loads of people who expected to be able to come and visit and that we had to get pretty strict on who we let in (after all it was an Intensive Care Unit with babies who were fighting every moment for their lives).
When we had our baby girl, it was a totally different scenario having her at home, but we realised we needed to set these boundaries before she was born so we didn’t have to think about it afterwards.
We spoke with each other about what we wanted and needed so we were both on the same page and could ensure our boundaries were going to be met.
2 – Remember You Can Say No
This amazing thing happens after you have a baby, all of a sudden these people you haven’t spoken to in months want to come and visit and meet your new little babe. While this can be a lovely thing if they are wanting to do something to help you as a new Mama, it can be completely overwhelming when your days start looking more like managing a social calendar than recovering and healing from birth.
Even after I had my baby girl (second child) and had set clear boundaries, I still found myself saying yes to more people than I wanted to because I felt like I should make the effort. I was tired, exhausted and just couldn’t keep up.
So I said no. A few times… and then a few more. And it felt good. I was able to rest, and no one was actually offended (like I feared they would be) because they knew I needed to rest. And if they were offended, then they aren’t the kind of people you want around you anyway.
3 – And You Can Also Say Yes
One of the most difficult things to say yes to is help, and hopefully, there will be a lot of it offered to you after your baby is born.
Whether it’s the friend offering to drop off a dinner dish, or a coffee and cake, or your mother in law offering to wash the dishes and mop the floor, saying yes to these things may feel a little uncomfortable but will make things so much easier for you.
Remember the whole idea of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? Well, we don’t have those villages anymore, but we do have people who offer help. You can say yes, and no one will think poorly of you for it. People actually want to help. Amazing I know.
4 – Have A Dedicated Gatekeeper
This is a great role for hubby to play, or even a firey friend or family member. They will be responsible for moving people on when they’ve overstayed their welcome (yes Aunt Maude, this means you) and can even be a great person to have around if you’re in hospital and have people wanting to come and visit.
A friend was telling me that she entrusted this role to her mum because she wanted the time she spent in hosptial to be just her, her husband and their new baby. No visits from anyone.
An obnoxious and persistent extended family member kept making ‘jokes’ and flippant comments while my friend was pregnant about how she was going to visit her in hospital because she wanted to meet the baby, despite clear instructions that no-one was to visit at hospital.
Thankfully my friends mum was able to ward off all visitors and my friend had a lovely few days bonding with her new little babe.
If you’re worried about people ignoring your rules, appoint a dedicated ‘gatekeeper’ so you don’t have to worry about other people and you can just focus on your new little babe.
5 – Let Everyone Know The Rules And Don’t Be Afraid To Stick To Them
You know those boundaries you set before your baby arrives? Share them with everyone, seriously. If you have rules like guests must be up to date with vaccinations before visiting then share that information too.
Again, if you’d rather have this information coming from someone else, then ask your mum, husband or a friend to send out a message or email, or pop it in a Facebook post. If they’re extra sassy they may even add that all visitors should bring a meal too – this can be far more appreciated than gifts, especially in the early days.
And don’t be afraid to stick to your rules. Just because someone lays a guilt trip on about not being able to visit at a certain time, it doesn’t mean you have to give in. This is YOUR time, you own it.
6 – Set Visiting Hours
With visitors coming and going and wanting to wish you well, one of the best things you can do to regulate and keep things under control is to set visiting hours.
This can be whatever you’d like – you could set certain hours during the day when people can visit, or you could even have a visitors schedule where you give visitors a specific time to come and see you.
This may sound a little regimented and over the top but I assure you, knowing when people are coming over and sticking to these times can make your days a lot easier.
I also suggest adding in a rule where if visitors are more than half an hour late for their visiting time then they need to reschedule. This worked for me because I found everything seemed to happen in half hour cycles in my home and it just helped us keep a rhythm.
Again, none of this is meant to offend anyone, it’s meant to make these weeks after your baby is born a bit easier, and if anyone does get offended then it’s not your problem, it’s theirs.
7 – Ask For What You Need
You know when you have people who say ‘if there’s anything you need let me know’ and you nod and say thanks, but never actually ask for what you need? Ask for what you need! Generally speaking, people truly want to help, they just don’t know how. So tell them.
If your friend is visiting and asks if there’s anything she can do to help, ask her to stack the dishwasher for you, or to bake your favourite cookies because breastfeeding makes you so hungry!
You can even ask friends and family to run errands. Maybe someone can take over school runs if you have older children, or can pick up groceries for you on their way over to visit (click and collect grocery shopping is amazing).
Asking for help can make us so uncomfortable but think about how you’d react if a new Mama asked you for help. I’m sure you’d jump at the chance to help, just as people want to do for you.
I know I’ve kind of made it sound like visitors are an inconvenience, they’re not, it’s just that they can be overwhelming when you’re learning this new life with your new baby. Use these tips, set boundaries, enlist help and remember, this time is all about you, your family and your new little babe. You just need to do whatever it is you need, everyone and everything else can wait.