Visitors After Birth: How Soon Is Too Soon for Mom and Baby?
Are you comfortable with welcoming visitors to your hospital room right after you give birth? If not, consider this advice.
If she could do it all again, Kerry Rossow said she wouldn’t have allowed any friends to visit her at the hospital after the birth of her first child.
Before she gave birth, Rossow, a mother of four and blogger at House TalkN, said she “envisioned a big party of friends…with me looking all glow-y and lovely.” Instead, she said, when visitors popped in an hour after her labor had ended, they got something entirely different.
“They saw me rocking my mesh undies only while unsuccessfully offering my breast the size of Texas to a screaming infant,” she remembered. “They got more than they bargained for.”
For new moms and babies, how soon is too soon for visitors? The answer will vary depending on the mom.
“It’s totally different for everyone. There are people for whom it’s easier to have other people around and then there are those who say, ‘I need quiet and I need some privacy. This is a huge moment in my life and I want to absorb it before I can share it,’” said Lizzie Post, the co-author of the 18th edition of “Emily Post’s Etiquette” and the great-granddaughter of the famous manners maven.
If you would like to limit hospital visitors, Post says it’s OK to say so—just in a polite fashion.
“For people who are involved, it’s important for them to understand that sometimes sending good wishes over the phone is a lot easier and more welcome and that (they) will get a chance to see the baby at some point.”
Feeling too overwhelmed to notify everyone? Ask close relatives—i.e. your parents, your in-laws—to help spread the word about when you’re ready for visitors or that you’d love to see them, but at a later date.
Some visits, however, can’t be put off, especially with those who’ve already booked plane tickets or have arrived from far away. In those cases, Post said, try to schedule a time with them “so you have a minute to do what you need to do, like put on some make-up or have your husband run home to get you a change of clothes.”
It gets especially tricky when the visits you’re trying to delay are from your in-laws themselves.
In a recent advice column, Judith Martin (a.k.a. “Miss Manners”) suggested strategically “managing” the timing of the in-laws’ visit. For instance, after calling his parents with the good news, the baby’s father can say he’ll call back with the results of the newborn’s routine examination. Assuming the results are fine, he can call his parents back then and also ask that they notify other relatives with the news.
He can also ask that, before they come, they bring champagne or a snack “that takes time to go buy.”
In other words, stall.
Post said that’s not a bad plan, but she still recommends being more direct by having the new dad say something like “Hey, Mom and Dad can you give us a few hours to get some test results and time to catch our breath?”
“It’s really important to respect the in-laws as you welcome this member of the family,” she added.
Amy Bozza, the author of the blog My Real Life, said her brother-in-law had particularly bad timing after each of her four children were born.
He “always wanted to come over right when my dinner was being served or just after they took the baby back to the nursery and I was about to have a moment of rest,” she said. “He never got the hint!”
Looking back, Bozza said, she should have just asked that no one visit after 5:30 in the evening because, especially after the birth of her second, third and fourth kids, “it was the only time I would ever have alone again.”
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