Baby’s First Visitors: Survival Tips for New Moms
How to handle the many admirers who come to see your new baby
When a baby arrives, so do droves of people who want to see the little one. Everyone from your in-laws to your best friends to your coworkers want to stop by and say hi. The kindest visitors recognize that you’re exhausted and adjusting to a very new reality, while others will hog your baby and overstay their welcome. Here are our best, creative tips for surviving as a new mom when the baby-holding, food-bringing wolves come out.
Visitors who just won’t leave
You’re tired, you’re hungry and your boobs are telling you it’s time to nurse. Many visitors, especially those who don’t have kids or haven’t had a newborn in a very long time, can be unaware of everything going on behind the scenes. Before your visitors arrive, set some time parameters for their visit. Saying something like, “We’re keeping visits to 30 minutes while we figure out this nursing thing” is a great way to prevent people from overstaying their welcome. If someone has been hanging out for a while and your baby is getting fussy, speak up. Say it’s time for the baby to nurse or nap and escape to a bedroom (hey, you can always just use this as an excuse too!). You’ve removed the main form of entertainment and the reason for the visit, so hopefully your guest gets the hint. If it’s been several minutes and you haven’t heard them say goodbye, lie down and take a nap. Or emerge and “remind” your partner of that pediatrician appointment or new-mom group meeting you just remembered.
Unsolicited advice and awkward questions
Our advice for this common visitor faux pas: Be vague. When a visitor insists the baby must be hungry when he JUST nursed, say “Maybe. I’ll try that in a bit.” Or when someone starts sharing the “best” way to do pretty much anything, just smile and nod. Other nice non-committal responses include “Good to know” or “I’ll keep that in mind.” The bottom line is you’re the mom and you know your baby best. And when you’re asked TMI questions that you’d rather not address or that you know will incite judgy responses, say something related but unspecific. For example, when your nosy aunt asks “Did you have a vaginal delivery?” answer with something like “I’m so glad it all went smoothly and she’s here now.” It might take a few non-answers, but most people will move on.
All those germs!
Seeing so many people touch your new baby with a very new immune system can cause major anxiety. Plop a bottle of hand sanitizer on the coffee table and offer it to anyone who reaches for your baby. If they look at you like you’re crazy, blame the hormones—or your pediatrician. Wrap your baby up in a receiving blanket to add a layer of protection as she or he is being passed around. Once everyone’s had a chance to hold him or her, consider slipping the baby into a cozy babywearing wrap to keep hands off.
Too many casseroles
Food is pretty much the best thing to bring a new mom. And when you’re breastfeeding day and night, you’re hungry. So receiving lots of food isn’t the biggest problem, but at some point, your little family can only eat so many trays of lasagna and bowls of tossed salad. If a visitor asks what they can bring before they arrive, enthusiastically suggest snacks or breakfast items. If you’re overloaded with perishable food, offer it to a neighbor. Throw casseroles, soups or anything that can be frozen into the freezer. You’ll be able to stretch those meals into the time when all your generous visitors stop coming.
Open-ended offers to help
Again, not a bad problem to have! The best offers to help sound something like “I can clean up the kitchen,” or “Can I pick up anything from Target for you while I’m there?” (Heck, yes!) But people like to offer help in general—like “Let me know if you need any help”—and it’s hard to say yes when they’re not specific. So have a go-to list to draw from when you get those genuine-but-vague offers. Some ideas: Ask them to stop for coffee or a salad on their way, throw in a load of laundry, hold the baby while you shower or even take out the trash. Be confident and appreciative. It’s OK to ask for and accept help, so when people offer, take them up on it. They’ll feel good about helping you out, so it’s a win-win.
As with everything, remember this phase won’t last. It can be hard when you’re hormonal, sleep-deprived and wearing a huge pad in your underwear, but try to keep perspective. Your loved ones are so excited to meet your new addition. All of these visitors love and care about you and your baby—and that is pretty incredible.