When Should Family Visit Newborn Baby?

When Should Family Visit Newborn Baby?


Considerations – When Should Family Visit Newborn Baby?
     1. Know Thyself
     2. Protecting Immature Newborn Immune Systems
     3. Establishing Breastfeeding
     4. Processing Postpartum Emotions

Establishing Boundaries with Newborn Visitors 
     1. Give Yourself Permission to Have Boundaries
     2. Practice Clear and Kind Communication Around Boundaries

There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to the question,  “When should family visit a newborn baby?”. These opinions range from quite conservative (no visitors until baby has received 3 month immunizations) to quite liberal (everyone is welcome in the birthing room and for an extended stay in the home).

And it’s not just new parents that have these opinions. Eager family and friends have their own opinions, which may or may not jive with new parents’ opinions. And this is why it can become a tricky situation to navigate.

Considerations – When Should Family Visit Newborn Baby?

‘Different Strokes for Different Folks’

Deciding when is appropriate to have visitors and house guests with your newborn is not a one size fits all situation. And trust me, I really tried to google the singular “right” universal answer to this question. 

The thing is – is that we all have different relationships with our family members, different personalities and needs. And that is perfectly ok! 

So deciding when is a good time for you and your family to have newborn visitors requires some self-reflection and some thoughtful communication skills with visitors. 

The following are some considerations to keep in mind when making your decision.

1. Know Thyself

The first place to start when determining how you want newborn visits with friends and family to go, is to look within. 

For example, I am the classic introvert and I prefer to make the initial transition (at least the first couple of weeks) into life with a newborn without houseguests or many visitors.

It is nothing personal to friends and family, I simply need time to recover from delivery and to process such a big change. I know that if I don’t have adequate time and space to do those things, I will get overwhelmed. And that is not a good place for me to be, or really for anyone in my immediate vicinity. 

So, you can ask yourself some questions to gauge how you handle transitions and what you need during those times. 

  • Am I an introvert or an extrovert? 

Introverts usually regroup and recharge by spending time alone, often in the privacy of their own homes. And there truly is a need to regroup and recharge after months of being pregnant and delivery. Not to mention adjusting to life with a newborn. 

Extroverts on the other hand, thrive off of the energy of others, and may enjoy having lots of people around to talk to as a way to process the transition into parenthood.

  • Am I comfortable with extended friends and family bearing witness to any of my physical challenges during recovery?

Postpartum recovery can be a doozy. Think bloody diapers, boobs hanging out while learning to breastfeed, post c-section farts, random bouts of crying. Call me modest, but I do not particularly want many witnesses to this display of events.

  • Will hosting distract from newborn bonding time?

Those initial days with a newborn are such an important time for parents and siblings to bond with their new family member. We can set the tone for a slow and quiet love to settle in, without the pressures of hosting. 

I know that my friends and family would absolutely not care if I left dirty dishes and clothes strewn about, but knowing myself, I know would feel the self induced need to clean and prep. At least for the first couple of weeks, I want to be focused on my newborn, not on the appearance of my home.   

new parent bonding with newborn baby

Having friends and family around can also obviously be wonderful and supportive for many new parents. Friends and family can help with older kids in the house as they offer their love and support, and if willing they can also help with chores etc. 

But, these may not be the primary needs and wants for all parents, so read on for some additional considerations. Your baby and loved ones will have their whole lives ahead of them to get to know each other, so postponing that meet and greet for a period of time is not the end of the world. 

2. Protecting Immature Newborn Immune Systems

No matter whether you want a full house or not after your newborn arrives, there are some practical health considerations to keep in mind. 

Newborns are vulnerable to various infections and illnesses, and Romper shares advice from medical doctors on this topic. They explain that infections like sepsis, meningitis and pertussis can be spread to unvaccinated newborns and can be very serious . They also recommend that everyone who comes to see a newborn have a recent TDaP and Covid vaccination.

Romper also explains that a number of important vaccines happen at 2 months old (hepatitis B vaccine is the only vaccine given right after birth), so many doctors recommend waiting until after this to have visitors and houseguests.

I don’t know that waiting 2 months is realistic for many families, but it is a good timeline to keep in mind before exposing a newborn to hoards of people.

In my opinion, it is more realistic to simply be cautious and explain to people that there are certain guidelines you have in place when it comes to any visits before baby is 2 or 3 months old.

For me, this means I will ask visitors to honor the following visitor guidelines for those first few months of baby’s life;

  • No kissing newborn baby on the face

  • Delay a visit if anyone has any symptoms of illness or recent exposures

  • Have up to date Tdap and covid vaccinations

  • Use hand sanitizer or wash hands before holding baby

This may seem overkill to some, but I would rather seem overkill than deal with a sick newborn. And since I spent the second half of my pregnancy sick with various flus and colds myself, I’d really rather not recover from my c-section and pregnancy while also battling a bug!

3. Giving Yourself Time to Establish Breastfeeding

Another consideration when it comes to a timeline to have houseguests, is if you are planning to breastfeed. Those first couple of weeks can be crucial to establish a good latch and routine around feeds with a newborn.

Before having my first baby, I had no idea how challenging and time consuming learning to breastfeed would be. I thought it was just some innate process that my baby and I would naturally and easily slide right into. Not the case. You can read more about this in my post on Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom.

Newborns spend a lot of time at the boob if exclusively breastfeeding. And even if you are also pumping, that just means you are spending a lot of time hooked up to a pump in addition to breastfeeding. 

So be prepared to feel like you are a 24/7 “breastaurant” as my friend refers to it. And operating that 24/7 breastaurant can truly consume all of your time and effort in those early days.

Additionally, friends and family may want you to let them feed baby with a bottle. While this could be a nice little break for you, it could also interfere with establishing a comfortable breastfeeding routine and relationship with baby. If you feel like you have to pump and produce a bottle, you may be missing out on a crucial opportunity to work on positioning and figuring out how to get a good latch. 

You may also feel like it’s awkward to whisk baby away from everyone to go feed in private if that is your preference (most visitors just want to cuddle and hold newborns for as long as possible). I was never very skilled at breastfeeding discreetly, so unless I wanted to flash everyone, breastfeeding publicly never felt comfortable for me personally. I don’t mind those who do breastfeed publicly, it was just never for me.

4. Processing Postpartum Emotions

Having a newborn is a wild ride! And especially if your birthing plan doesn’t go as expected, you may be trying to process a ton of new emotions.

With my first child, we unexpectedly spent 5 days in the hospital. This was after my water broke and I ended up having an unplanned c-section. And as already mentioned, breastfeeding was extremely painful for me initially. My son also had to spend multiple days under the bilirubin lights in the hospital, and even though it wasn’t a big deal, it felt like a huge deal at the time. Add all these feelings to a state of exhaustion and sleep deprivation, and it was just a lot.

Additionally, I think that feelings of anxiety around keeping a newborn safe in those early days are quite common among new parents. Adding visitors and/or complicated family dynamics to the mix could be enough to send a vulnerable postpartum parent spiraling. And this isn’t good for anyone – not for you, not for baby, not for your partner, and not for family or friends.

Establishing Boundaries around Visits with a Newborn

1. Give Yourself Permission to Have Boundaries

The first step in boundary work after recognizing why you need them, is giving yourself permission to establish them with others (and permission to adjust them if needed). I constantly have to remind myself that my needs are just as important as other people’s needs. 

This is not selfish or cruel. It is honoring my humaneness and vulnerabilities. And when I understand what it means to honor myself, I can do the same with others. When someone expresses their own boundaries, I do not take this personally. I can recognize that we are all different and have different needs. 

So in the case of having a newborn, there can certainly be a lot that a new parent needs! For moms, we have been growing a human for the greater part of the past year. And if that experience was not particularly pleasant, that alone can create a huge need for some time to regroup mentally, emotionally and physically (for a glimpse of the unglamorous side of pregnancy, you can check out my post on Morning Sickness Misery). And of course moms may need some time to recover from labor and delivery as well.

Dads are also likely feeling the toll of the past 9 months, as many take on additional tasks while their partners are pregnant. And they are also adjusting to having a newborn.

So claiming some time for yourself and immediate family in the postpartum period is 110% okay.

And if you need some justification outside of the simple fact that your needs matter, here are some additional thoughts around establishing boundaries;

  • Boundaries make us happier and nicer people. When we feel that others have crossed our boundaries, we get angry and resentful.

And nobody wants to be spending precious energy on feeling angry or resentful when sleep deprived and adjusting to life with a newborn. Houseguests and visitors will probably have a better time during a visit too if you are not harboring these feelings because they will feel welcome and relaxed if you are welcoming and feeling relaxed.

  • Also know that even if you establish a certain timeline prior to the arrival of your newborn, give yourself permission to change that timeline if things have not gone according to plan. 

For example, your recovery may be slower and more challenging than you anticipated, and you may feel you need a little more time to adjust to postpartum life. Or perhaps your newborn has to spend some time in the NICU and you aren’t able to bring him or her home as soon as you thought. Maybe this pushes your timeline for visitors back, so that you can have sufficient time to bond at home before having houseguests.

Bringing a human into the world is a big deal, so hopefully friends and family will be understanding. And if they are not, you really have no control over their responses. Their reactions belong to them. Just as you are allowed to have your feelings, they are allowed to have theirs.

2. Practice Clear and Kind Communication around Boundaries with Newborn Visitors

While not everyone may honor your stated boundaries, most people do if they clearly understand what you are communicating. So know what your boundaries are around visits, and let them be known.

And let them be known in a thoughtful and kind way. You don’t have to explain every reason in regards to why you have a certain boundary, but your tone and delivery can make a big difference in how a boundary statement is received. Make the boundary about you and your needs, rather than trying to explain why the boundary is about someone else.

Because boundaries are really all about us and clarifying what we need to maintain our mental and physical health. For example, “I need time to establish breastfeeding”, rather than, “I can’t establish breastfeeding comfortably if you (visitors) are in my space and watching me”.

You can also come up with a blanket statement you share with everyone that helps friends and family know that your boundary is nothing personal to them. For example, “we aren’t having any visitors or houseguests for a couple of weeks after bringing baby home, so that we can adjust to a new routine”.

The Beauty of Becoming a Parent

When you bring a baby into the world, your life will never be the same again.

The world shifts. You change.

And with this change comes a need to protect and honor your boundaries so you can be the best parent you can be.

Of course we care and love our family members and friends who we want to be a part of our children’s lives. No question there, but, we are the ones who will be there day in and day out, night in and night out with our babies. So we make the choices that are going to support ourselves and our little ones. And we can do this while still appreciating our family and friends by communicating our needs openly, clearly and kindly. 

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