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How to create boundaries with visiting family and friends

Avoiding Visitor Overload


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26/03/2018

How to create boundaries with visiting family and friends

Everybody loves a newborn.

That intoxicating smell, those tiny fingers and toes, and that exquisite oxytocin-fuelled vibe that floats around when a new person has entered the world!

Many new parents may feel a strong urge to share this little piece of magic with the ones they love, but it can also be incredibly exhausting having lots of people around as you transition into the early phases of parenthood.

Some people love having company over and look forward to chatting about the birth while their baby is passed round by friends and family. Others may prefer to shut themselves away from the world for a few days to get to know their newborn in private, and get used to this new responsibility.

However you feel about visitors, it’s worthwhile talking with your partner early on about how you want visits to go and setting any necessary boundaries. These are a few things to consider:

1. Agree on the basics

Have a chat before your baby arrives about what you feel is reasonable as far as visitors go. Be aware that with a newborn it often takes hours to get ready to see anyone and even after that time and effort you may not feel up it. It's also good to discuss how you feel about people holding your baby. Your little one still has a fragile immune system and for optimal health it needs skin-on-skin with either parent for the first few days of its life. This may mean keeping your newborn close to you rather than passing it around for a cuddle.

2. Set your own timetable

Hospitals can be busy places and the first few days of your baby's life involves a great deal of breastfeeding or learning how to care for your newborn so you may not want people to come for visits at the hospital. Lots of parents prefer to reserve this time for settling in with their baby and getting breastfeeding going. If this sounds like you, put it out there. You’re the parents, and you’re in charge. A great thing to do is send a simple text to everyone saying "Our baby is here - we will let you know when we are ready for visitors." 

3. Say yes to support

Most visitors will tell you they want to help you with your new baby, and this is the time to put any pride or ego aside and just say ‘yes’ to offers of help. Even better, tell them exactly how they can help you – people don’t always know what you need, so don't hesitate to be clear with your requirements and give them some guidance. Offers of food, cleaning your house, walking your dog, holding the baby while you sleep, folding washing. The more support you accept, the more you can rest and recover.

4. Have a secret code

People often get caught up in the joy of a new baby outstay their welcome. Come up with a code or cue to signal to your partner you're getting tired or you need some space. A simple a nod or phrases like "I'm taking the baby into the bedroom to feed now" or "I might need a little nap now" allows you to set some gentle boundaries that politely invite the visitor to leave.




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