Birthing classes, breastfeeding classes, baby showers, etc. Everyone wants to be prepared for the arrival of a new baby, especially when it is your first. But, there is one IMPORTANT point, one DETRIMENTAL point, which most of your class instructors and friends with kids will neglect to tell you.
Limit the number of visitors you are willing to see each day!
“Why would I do that?” you may ask. “Don’t I want to have everyone share in the joy of having a new baby?” “Won’t my family members get upset if they can’t spend every minute with the new baby?”
Let me describe my postpartum scenario for you. If it not unlike most of my friends’ experiences after the births of their babies as well….that is, until I shared this advice with them.
When my son, Benjamin, was born, he was the first grandchild born on both sides of the family. He was literally like Simba up on the mountain top being revered in all of his glory. Family and friends from around the country flocked to our little home in San Diego to meet the first child of the new generation. I, too, was mesmerized by this little being that I had just birthed a few days before.
Everyone who came to visit in the hospital and then at our home wanted to hold Ben…. To smell his sweet scent and listen to his sighs as he slept. As my visitors sat on my couch and relaxed with my sleeping son, what do you think I was doing? Resting after my 20-hour labor? Napping after breastfeeding all night, with painful bleeding nipples?
I don’t think so!
I was sitting on my doughnut (so that my episiotomy stitches wouldn’t rip out), chatting it up with the crowd. I was making sure everyone had something to eat or drink. Now, to be clear, this wasn’t expected of me by my guests. This was self-imposed hostess torture. I felt it was something I had to do. Everyone held my sleeping, gorgeous child, until he woke up and started to cry. Then, it was my turn to hold him, soothe him, and breastfeed him.
After everyone finally went home (a week later), I had an infection from my stiches, a nipple shield I was trying to wean from, and an exhaustion like I had never felt before. I made a promise to myself then and there that this was NOT going to happen the next time around.
As I learn from my mistakes (oh, and there are so many since I became a mom), I try to share a few gems so that others won’t succumb to the same mistakes I made. So, here you go…
5 Ways to Get Rid of Postpartum Visitors without Offending Anyone
- Decide how many visitors you are comfortable with per day: Have this discussion with your partner prenatally. That way you won’t be persuaded after the baby is born (when hormones are topsy-turvy). You might have to make an exception for family members, but that is up to you.
- Assign your partner or husband to be the bouncer: After the baby is born, it is the bouncer’s job to answer the phone, not you! His/her phone response should be, “We have already had a few visitors today. Would you like to come tomorrow instead?”
- Ask visitors to bring dinner: You may laugh at this….my husband did. But, whenever he asked someone to come another day, the visitor always replied, “Sure. What can I bring?” Have the bouncer always reply, “Dinner would be great!” My fridge/freezer was filled for 2 weeks! It rocked!
- Have an exit strategy: Sometimes visitors stay a little bit too long and you may feel weird asking them to leave. Remember, you need to take care of yourself! Your body and your baby are depending on it. As soon as I felt like I wanted my visitor to leave, I said I was feeling a little dizzy and needed to go lay down. They usually got the hint and headed for the door.
Don’t play hostess: Don’t feel the need to cook or clean your house before someone comes over. Would they expect this if you had back surgery? No. So, sit down, snuggle that sweet little baby, and chat for as long as you want to. Then, use your exit strategy and rest.