How to Handle… Hospital Visitors After You Deliver
Three takes on managing well-wishers right after you give birth
After umpteen hours of labor and delivery, you and your new bundle of joy have finally met face-to-face. (Congrats!) Now everyone you know (and their cousin) wants to meet Baby, too. Managing that first wave of visitors can be tricky. We asked an etiquette expert, a childbirth educator, and a real mom for tips on how to handle the in-hospital meet n’ greet.
Peggy Post, great granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post and co-author of the 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette:
“New parents can just be honest if someone asks to visit them in the hospital, but they’d rather wait until they’re home—thank the friend for their interest, but beg off by suggesting a later visit due to exhaustion (or whatever). If you would like to see your friends and family right away, let them know when the hospital’s visiting hours are, and thank them for coming to see you and the baby. Likewise, be as enthusiastic as possible about any gifts—even if you already have 20 other baby blankets. It’s important to be appreciative.
“Think about what will make you and your visitor comfortable. Details of the delivery? Know your audience. Time to breastfeed? Decide if this particular visitor—and you—would prefer that you nurse privately. Finally, if you’re getting tired and want the visit to end, say so diplomatically, ‘I have to admit I’m about to nod off. I hope you don’t mind that I have to say goodbye now.’ Your visitors will understand!”
Sarah Clark, certified childbirth educator, BirthBootCamp.com:
“Most of us are trained our whole lives to be nice and just go with the flow. One of the hardest things about being a new parent, though, is learning to sometimes stand up for yourself and your baby—albeit tactfully. For a lot of parents this lesson starts in the hospital. If you want a lot of visits in the hospital, by all means call everybody and invite them to come—a baby is a cause for celebration, after all! If, however, you’d prefer minimal visitors, there are a few things you can do: For one, you can limit the number of people you tell about the birth. This is your special family time and you don’t HAVE to share it with everybody right away. You can also post a piece of paper on the door to your hospital room with some rules for guests: hand-washing, preferences around the presence of small children, a time limit on visits—include whatever’s important to you and will help you feel comfortable. On that note, since you’ll be busy recovering and nursing, I encourage dads and partners to serve as the rule enforcers.”
Kelle Hampton, author of Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, mom, and blogger at Enjoying the Small Things
“When I published the story of our second daughter’s birth, people noted two things. First, of course, was the sensitive issue of accepting a child with special needs, and the beautiful journey that followed. The next was “Holy Visitors! How many people were in that room?” Yes, our room was filled with a constant stream of family and friends, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. In those first moments of welcoming the unexpected, I needed support and I needed to be reminded that my daughter’s birth was worthy of celebration, and all the balloons and flowers that come with that. Fortunately, the hospital staff was completely understanding of that need. My best friend was in charge of all visitor communication, though; she was with me at all times and monitored the visitor situation, sending texts and emails, alerting friends of good times to visit as well as appropriate times to allow us some rest and quiet family moments. Having one friend in charge of visitors made things so much easier for my husband and me; it took a lot of the pressure off of us so we could focus on our new family.”
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