Setting boundaries for visitors
A lot of new mums I meet through my work and personal life express their concern for unwanted visitors either at the hospital, at home or both. How can we manage visitors?
I remember this myself after I had my first child. My husband and I were so pre-occupied with keeping everyone else happy and looking after their needs that we forgot to consider what would be best for our family. I can recall one day we had so many visitors in the hospital room that I began to feel my heart racing and anxiety levels rising. I grabbed my husband and snapped at him quietly in his ear that he needed to clear the room now. A nurse appeared and took my blood pressure and it was through the roof.
It is funny because I definitely wanted all these special people in my life to meet my new baby but I think I underestimated the impact that having so many people visit at once would have on me. I was sore, exhausted, overwhelmed and barely able to hold a decent conversation. In hindsight, having so many visitors there adding to the noise and overwhelm to the situation was not a great choice for me.
What to Say and Do When Arriving Home
I remember telling myself before I went into labour that having people visit in the hospital was a great idea as there was restricted visiting hours. Better everyone come to the hospital rather than home I told myself. Well as it turns out that theory wasn’t very accurate! When we returned home and most our inner circle had all been to the hospital then came the requests from other friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. My husband brought a list of people who wanted to visit that was 20 people long. He had returned to work very quickly after the birth of our first child as we had a new business. I couldn’t get my head around being alone and holding a pleasant conversation and entertaining guests, on top of that I was still in the early stages of feeding which I was finding awkward and exposing. Again I snapped (I seem to be doing that more since I had given birth) “you need to get rid of that list, I don’t want to see it and I don’t care who is on it”.
Thank goodness I set that boundary and thank goodness he listened. Having time at home just with the baby helped us begin to bond. Sometimes I was even able to get some sleep while he napped.
New mums talk about strategies they employ when having their babies. One mother told me she dealt with her family and friends and her husband dealt with his family and friends. The message was no visiting at the hospital without the okay first and no children or people who are unwell are to visit the hospital. She later shared with me that this was very effective and, although a few people got their noses slightly out of joint, it reduced stress for her as a new mother. And let’s face it – that should always be the end game: Reducing outside stress and worry for a new mother so she can focus on herself and her baby.
Another mother told me they were having no visitors except immediate family to the hospital then when the baby was 6 weeks old they planned to have a gathering of very close friends and extended family to meet the baby. After we caught up when her new baby girl was 3 months old, she shared that they did only have immediate family to the hospital but when her baby was 2 weeks old she started seeing some friends and extended family every couple of days. The message here is to be flexible. You never know how you are going to feel! You might want to show your baby to the world, Simba from the Lion King style, or you may prefer to retreat just you, your partner and your baby.
Have The Conversation
There is no wrong or right here, it is about having a conversation as a couple before giving birth about what is going to work for your new family. Whilst always keeping top of mind that mum and baby’s wellbeing are of the first and foremost importance.Lear More