You’ve just had a baby and everybody wants to visit! Who you choose to invite into your home, and how soon you do this after your baby is born, is a very personal decision. I’ve worked with a number of moms who look back on their early postpartum days and say, “I wish we hadn’t had so many visitors at the beginning.” I’ve also worked with many second-time moms who choose to limit visitors for the first few weeks or months, having learned from their first experience that it was more stressful than helpful. Your main job right now is to focus on healing, resting, eating well, supporting healthy milk production if you’re breastfeeding, and caring for your newborn. This can sometimes be harder to do with a slew of visitors coming through your house. It’s understandable that people want to meet your baby and that you might be excited to have them come over. The truth is, some visitors will be lovely and others will not. I’m going to break it down for you by sharing some thoughts about 5 different types of postpartum visitors. You can use this list to help you decide who you’re ready to invite into your home and how to make the most of your early visits.
1. The Doer
I love this kind of postpartum visitor! He or he understands what it’s like to be a new mom and is here to help. This might also be somebody like your father-in-law, who wants to visit, but isn’t quite sure what to do with himself when he’s there. Put him to work! I’m sure that there are endless things that need to be done around the house while you’re busy taking care of yourself and baby. There are dishes, laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, etc. Go ahead and give this visitor a job. Better yet, have your partner give him/her a job or send them to a list you’ve posted on the fridge with ideas on how to help. If you want a printable of this list, head over to my doula website and sign up for my free postpartum wellness toolkit.
2. The Listener
I also love this kind of visitor. He or she might ask you how it’s going and genuinely wants to know. Share your authentic truth in the moment. Let yourself talk about what’s hard and what you’re having trouble with. This visitor may or may not offer suggestions, but best of all you will be heard, listened to, and validated during these sensitive days and weeks.
3. The Guest
This visitor is here to see your baby and will expect to be offered beverages and snacks the way you might if you were officially hosting somebody in your home. Honestly, try not to invite this type of visitor over during your postpartum days. You and/or your partner don’t need to be hosting anybody right now. If you absolutely feel like you must have this person come over, try to have them come when you have other help in the house, like a trusted family member or friend or your postpartum doula, so somebody else can do the work of hosting. My own sweet mama stayed with us after the birth of my first child and she did the work of hosting any guests we had for the first week or so. This helped me relax and not stress about visitors as much.
4. The Advice-Giver
Do you like to hold your baby while he snoozes? This person might suggest that you start teaching him how to be independent and put him down by himself to sleep. Is your baby going through a growth spurt and cluster feeding every evening for hours? This visitor might exclaim that your baby, “can’t be hungry again??!!” It’s one thing if you’re seeking out a particular person and asking for advice. It’s another to receive unsolicited advice that eats away at your own confidence and ability to trust your instincts.
5. The Baby Lover
This visitor is also there to see your baby. He or she may or may not ask you how you’re doing. Depending on the person, this can go either way. It can be a visit that places unnecessary stress on you to share your baby and potentially interrupt breastfeeding in these crucial early days. On the other hand, if you’re dying for an uninterrupted shower or walk around block, this visitor is just on time! Give him or her some clear guidelines on when to get you if baby gets fussy, and go enjoy a little glorious self-care and time by yourself.
I understand the pressure of welcoming people to come meet your baby. It’s hard to say “no” and you don’t want to appear unkind. I also now understand how fleeting the newborn days are and believe that you’ll be so glad if you can protect and shelter your family for a small time as you all get to know each other and learn about your new roles.