Managing Visitors After Baby

DSCN2516I learned after having my first daughter that people will offer to help and to “help” once you and your newborn arrive home.  Those who offer to help will show up with food and ready to do a chore or two while visiting.  Those who offer to “help” will show up ready to hold the baby so you can catch up on chores.  The following tips I learned while dealing with both helpers and “helpers” after the births of my daughters.

  1. Get on the same page as your husband or partner.  He will be your biggest ally in enforcing the boundaries you and he come up with.
  2. Set an amount of time for no overnight visitors (or even visitors period) once you arrive home.  I am a crying, milk leaking mess for the first week or so once we return from the hospital.  I prefer my privacy during this time.  Both my mom and mother in law offered to stay with us as soon as we got home.  I told them no for this very reason.  Decide how long you want your privacy without overnight guests and let family and friends know well in advance of the birth.  Enlist the help of your husband or partner to enforce this boundary.  Don’t let anyone make you feel pressured or guilty about this boundary.
  3. Create a to-do list in advance of chores that people can help with.  I am not comfortable with anyone doing our laundry or cleaning our bathrooms.  However, if you do a load of dishes, swifter my floor, or make a pot of coffee, I will love you forever!  Create a list of chores that need to be done that you are not too picky about and are comfortable with others doing so you’re prepared for when visitors ask what they can do to help.  Don’t be afraid to ask a “helper” to do a chore or two from the list if they fail to offer before they hold the baby, as well.
  4. Set ground rules for visitors before they come over.  Do you want visitors to have certain vaccines, wash and sanitize their hands, not bring their children, or stay a limited amount of time? Inform people of your rules before the birth in such a way that there is no conversation or negotiations.  Have your husband or partner help enforce these rules when the visitors come over.  The baby is your newborn.  You get to decide what is best for your baby and family, no matter what others think or feel.
  5. Set aside private areas of your home.  My upstairs, purple bathroom was mine and mine only for the weeks after both of my births.  I didn’t want to have to worry about having it company clean when I was bleeding (a lot).  My bedroom was also my sanctuary to take the baby when I needed a few quiet moments, to cry, or to work on breastfeeding without an audience.  Again, have your husband or partner help enforce that these areas are private.

Do not be afraid to set strict boundaries and speak up about them.  This is your recovery and bonding time.  You are in charge of this precious time.  You want to be able to look back fondly on it, not have memories of people hogging your baby, disrespecting your wishes, and otherwise stomping on your postpartum time.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom from Denver, CO to two girls, 3 years and 11 months old, who enjoys cooking, running, and hiking.

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