This is a topic I discuss with all of my new clients before baby arrives. Many new parents don’t know what to expect the first several weeks after the birth of their baby and make commitments to have in-laws or family members travel and live with them. The thought is that the guests will be extra hands to help out: with the baby, older siblings, pets and the house. However, sometimes this plan doesn’t work out quite as imagined. Below you’ll find my expert tips and rules for allowing guests to come visit your new bundle of joy. If you’re a friend or family member reading this, please use these tips to help support the new family.
Observe a 2-week rule
This rule is so important! As a Newborn Care Specialist, I am continually acting as an advocate for my Clients. One of the ways I do this is by having an upfront conversation with them and laying out expectations for the first few weeks after the birth of their baby. What I tell them is that for the first two weeks they are home with their newborn, they should plan to have as few visitors and commitments as possible. During this time their new family is learning how to coexist, mom and baby are likely learning to breastfeed, sibling are being introduced and the family needs time, alone, to be able to do this. There is sometimes also unexpected changes in the birth plan that may affect the outcome during the first few weeks postpartum. If you are planning to have in-laws stay with you, know their personalities. Will they be helpful or expect to hold your baby and be entertained?? Guard this time. It is precious.
Guests should be helpful
The second rule is a biggie. If you want to support the new family, one of the best things you can do is to help relieve them of everyday tasks. The following suggestions may not seem like much, but trust me, newborns require a lot of time, and for a mom that has just delivered, she will be exhausted. If you want to help your friend or family member out, offer to do these things, with no pressure to see or hold the baby. If you are a new mom or dad and someone asks what they can do to help, absolutely take them up on it and provide a few of these suggestions:
- Have a meal delivered. Ask for dietary restrictions and preferences first.
- Make a meal and drop it off on the front porch.
- Give them a gift card to a restaurant that delivers so they can choose what they want to eat and the best day to have it delivered.
- Offer to pick up groceries or other household necessities.
- If you are a guest staying in their home, do any household tasks you can. Wash laundry, vacuum, take out the garbage, make dinner, clean and sanitize bottle and breast pump parts. Anything you can do that will allow the family more time with their baby. If they ask you to take charge of the baby a few hours so they can rest, do that if you’re comfortable. Helping hands are always appreciated.
- Offer to set up a meal train so other friends and family members can make meals for them.
- Schedule and pay for a cleaner to clean their home. Or, buy them a gift certificate for cleaning services. Make sure to check with the family first. Same with yard care. Pay for a lawn service.
- Offer to take the older children for an outing or plan a play date with their friends. Older children need to get out and have regular activities after the birth of their new sibling. Like fur-babies, they have energy that needs to get burned.
- Pay for a Postpartum Doula, Newborn Care Specialist or Baby Nurse and offer to find the provider for them. I have had many friends and family members contribute for my services.
- Offer to walk their dog(s). When a new baby enters the home our fur-babies are often put on the back burner. Offering to walk their four legged babies will help considerably to burn pent up energy and allow the new family more time to rest and bond together.
Be cautious of siblings
During the first few weeks and months a new baby is home from the hospital, it is best to be cautious about extra little ones coming into your home. This is especially important during the cold and flu season. Toddlers and preschool aged children often to go daycares where they are around and playing with other children, that may be sick or have a sibling that is sick. Daycares and pre-schools are like cesspools of germs, they truly are. Babies have much weaker immune systems and are more susceptible to getting sick. Don’t be afraid to limit visits with toddlers and school aged children or ask their parents if they are well. I always tell my clients to use me a their cop-out. Blame me! “The Baby Nurse said it wasn’t a good idea”. I once got bronchitis from a 4-week old that had RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). He got sick from his 3-year old sister, who got sick from the large daycare she attended. He ended up having to be hospitalized for 2 days and I took 3 months to fully heal from my bronchitis.
Have guests wash hands
Most well intentioned friends and family members will wash their hands without being asked, but don’t be afraid to ask them to do it as soon as they come into your home. Anyone that is going to hold or care for you baby should wash their hands first thing when entering your home.
Don’t wear scented lotion or perfume
Visiting a new baby is not the time to wear anything with a strong scent. This goes for new moms and dads as well as any guests. Strongly scented things can rub off on babies and cause allergic reactions, or irritate their immature lungs. They are also a source of chemicals and toxins new babies don’t need. Please refrain from these things: hair spray, toxic nail polishes, lotions, perfumes, cologne etc.
There you have it! Our 5 tips for visiting a new baby.
The content contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of any medical professional. It is based on our opinions and experience working with newborns and their families. Other’s opinions may vary. It does not represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The reader understands that term “Babynurse” is often a word used to describe a newborn caregiver. However, unless otherwise disclosed, we are not licensed nurses in any state. By reading and/or utilizing any information or suggestions contained in this blog, the reader acknowledges that we are not medical professionals and agrees to and waives any claim, known or unknown, past, present or future.
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