Visitors After Giving Birth
When you have a baby you'll no doubt have a constant stream of well wishers visiting you and your new arrival. While it's wonderful to have friends and family over in the weeks following the birth, it's important to keep these visits manageable, and not to let yourself get overwhelmed by hoards of visitors!
Keeping Visits Manageable
You'll have your hands full looking after a newborn baby and recovering after the birth so don't be worried about offending people by asking that they keep visits to an hour, or however long you feel comfortable with. Arrange a time for them to visit in advance that suits you and your baby's needs. If you are breastfeeding your baby, you might feel self-conscious about doing it in front of other people, but reluctant to go into a different room as newborn babies can take up to an hour for one feed! It's important not to let visitors coming round interfere with you feeding your baby, so if you need to feed your baby, explain that your baby is hungry and you need to feed him in private. If any visitors seem reluctant to leave, tell them that you need to have a rest or feed or bathe the baby. New mums are famous for being very busy and sleep deprived so no-one will be offended!
Don't be worried about turning down people's offers to visit as well. If you only want one visitor a day, suggest a different day if anyone else wants to come round. If you don't feel up to having visitors, politely tell them that now is not a good time and suggest that they come round in a couple of weeks when things have calmed down a bit. Don't pre-arrange visits before you've had your baby, as you might not feel up to it once your baby is here. Wait until you've had your baby to arrange for people to come round so you know if you're feeling up to having visitors or not.
Visitors can however be a great help to new mums, especially if you're not very mobile as a result of a cesarean delivery or stitches. Most visitors will want to help you, so don't be shy about accepting their offers to help! Close friends and family members will be especially keen to help so let them do the washing up, make some lunch, put the laundry on, or take your older children to the park etc if they want to. It can also be lovely seeing friends and family and showing off your new baby, and chatting about life as new mum, but only do as much as you feel up to doing.
Visitors and Cigarette Smoke
Cigarette smoke is very dangerous for babies. It doubles the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), increases the risk of ear infections, and damages their lungs by weakening them. You should make sure that no-one smokes anywhere in your house. Don't let anyone smoke even if they go into a different room to your baby, as secondhand cigarette smoke doesn't stay in one room, but will spread throughout the house, even if the window is open. Studies have found that houses where people smoke in one of the rooms have 5-7 times the amount of nicotine in the air than in houses where no-one smokes. If you have visitors over who are smokers, you'll need to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly before holding or touching your baby. This is because when somebody smokes, the smoke clings to their fingers, clothes, breath and hair and then seeps out into the air, which will be breathed in by your baby. Studies have found that even in houses where smokers only smoked outside the house, there were elevated levels of toxins from cigarettes inside the house that had been carried in by the smokers. If a smoker is coming round, ask that they wear clean clothes, and that they wash their hands and face before touching the baby. They also shouldn't let the baby suck on their fingers, even if they have just been washed as there will still be nicotine residue on their fingers and nails.
You should ask all visitors to wash their hands before touching your baby. Babies are vulnerable to picking up viruses because their immune systems aren't fully developed yet. Germs can be passed on to babies if a visitor is ill (in which case, don't let them touch your baby, and ask that they keep a distance from your baby). Ideally, ask that they don't visit when showing any signs of illness such as cold, fever, flu, sore throat etc, but to come round when they are fully recovered. Germs can also be passed on if someone has touched a surface previously touched by someone who is ill. Germs can live up to eight hours on some surfaces. Doorknobs, escalator handrails, and public transport are germ hotspots. It's not rude to ask people wash their hands when they enter your home and you have a young baby; most people know that babies are vulnerable to germs and won't be offended. Keep a gel hand sanitizer or antibacterial hand wipes on standby for when visitors come over, for times when a full hand wash isn't convenient. Keep them out of reach of your baby though.