Top 5 tips for those first precious few days and weeks with a new bub
In our ‘Newborn’ Module inside the Birth Beat Ultimate Online Birth Course, I talk about the importance of minimising visitors and people other than you and your partner holding bub in the first few days of their life.
Not only is this important for bonding with your baby on a physical level (more on that soon) but also so that you and your partner can soak up those precious newborn moments without having to entertain well-intentioned but sometimes not so-welcome visitors.
Easier said than done, right?
Here are our top 5 tips for keeping your precious newborn bubble intact, helping you manage those unwelcome visitors, set boundaries and when you’re ready for them, make the most of visits.
1. Uninterrupted bonding and recovery time should be a priority
Despite how some family and friends may make you feel, the birth of your baby isn’t about them.
Of course, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and friends are all going to be excited and want to welcome your precious new bubba. But it’s also important that they respect what is best for you and your baby during this time.
Because when you think about it, are they the ones who are going to be up at all hours learning how to feed and settle a newborn? Nope.
Did they just spend 40 weeks growing a human and are now recovering from the marathon that is childbirth (regardless of what type of birth you have, it’s every Mumma’s right to be able to recover mentally and physically from this life changing event)?
No, they didn’t. And so not only are you well within your rights to refuse or limit visitors, recovery and privacy are priorities you need to make for you and your baby.
The real world is a big, bright, noisy and smelly place for a newborn. There is so much for their little brains to adjust to after being in the dark, warmth of your womb for 9 months. In those early hours and days, you and your partner want maximum skin-to-skin time with baby which will help you both form precious bonds. In fact, skin-to-skin has soooooo many benefits it deserves a post all its own.
Minimising the introduction of new scents (which includes the scent of visitors) and new sounds will help your baby bond with you and your partner, minimising the overload of ‘new’ to adjust to. I also recommended that you try and reduce or eliminate perfumes, deodorant and fragranced body wash etc. as your natural scent will be most familiar to baby and will also aid in the process of breastfeeding initiation.
Your priority right now is to rest, recover and be with your baby. You don’t get this time back, so soak it all up and let your new bub do the same.
2. Set clear expectations upfront
One of my top tips to all expecting Mummas is to keep your exact due date a secret. Why? To minimise those endless texts and calls from friends and family ‘checking’ to see if you’ve the baby yet.
In case you’d like, you know, forget that it had happened and didn’t tell them! Ha ha.
Create a list of people that you’ll want to let know once bub arrives. Set clear expectations with these people upfront that you’ll be in contact to let them know when your baby has been born. There is no need to send out a message announcing that you’re in labour – unless you really want to let a few very close people know. This just creates even more unnecessary pressure for you and leaves a group of people anxiously waiting to hear how you’re going.
Once baby has arrived and you’re ready to share the news, have your partner hit send on the group text. In the message, clearly state that you’ll let them know when you’re ready for visitors. This immediately establishes a clear boundary that unannounced visits aren’t welcome. It gives you some control and creates the space you need to adjust to all the changes both physically and emotionally – which are very real!
Many new parents are worried about visitors spreading unwelcome germs, kissing their baby or just generally being annoying and overstaying their welcome. All hugely valid concerns. One way you can handle this is by sharing your preferences as soon as visitors arrive. Some parents even write up little blackboard or whiteboard signs with the ground rules such as:
Please wash your hands before holding bub.
No kissing, baby is too little just yet.
If you feel sick, please don’t visit until you’re completely well.
If you have a cold-sore or feel one coming on, please don’t visit until it’s fully healed.
Being upfront can be hard at first, but I guarantee it’s far easier than trying to ask someone to leave once they’re in your hospital room cradling your newborn baby in their arms.
3. Enlist your partner’s help
It’s unfair but true that an overprotective Dad or partner is somehow perceived as being cute, while an overprotective Mum is just that – overprotective! Let’s not dive into the politics of that right now… instead let it go and use it to your advantage.
If you have a visitor who is overstaying their welcome, perhaps leaning in to kiss your baby’s head or clearly suffering from a cold of some kind, have your partner do the dirty work.
Giving your partner this responsibility serves two functions.
Firstly, it eases the pressure on you to have to worry during a time when you have enough going on. Your job is to rest, recover and enjoy learning how to be a Mum.
Secondly, it gives your partner an important role and one that they’ll likely appreciate. During pregnancy, your partner may feel excluded at times and this is only exacerbated once there is a newborn. Providing them with a practical and important task such as managing visitors and being chief baby-protector will help to feel more involved and valuable – which they totally are!
4. Set visitors to work
Once you’re home and have given visitors the green light to come and visit you and your bundle of joy, why not make the most of the extra sets of hands?
Visitors will inevitably ask if there is anything they can do to help. Rather than automatically say, ‘no thank you, we’re all good’, why not create a running list of jobs that need doing. Even something as simple as getting someone to hang out a load of washing is a huge help in those early days. It might seem silly now, but when your days are a blur of newborn feeds, even the easiest of tasks can seem overwhelming.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking guests to do odd jobs for you, (trust me I bet no one will mind at all, but I get it), why not at least make the most of it and give yourself 10 minutes to have a shower while they watch your bub for you? They’ll be honoured I guarantee it. Or tell them to help themselves to a tea or coffee, they’ll then offer to make one for you too.
Whatever it is, no matter how silly or small it may seem, allowing others to help you during this time can give you that extra little bit of rest you need and is one less thing for you to worry about. Make the most of it!
5. Let go of expectations
Having a baby is a lifechanging event. Regardless of whether your birth was blissful, tough or somewhere in between, you need to let go of expectations of how things should be with a newborn, because it’s a huge adjustment that will be different for everyone.
No two mothers, babies or births are the same.
Don’t compare yourself to strangers on the internet. In this day an age of the perfect Insta-mum it’s all too easy to feel like you’re not doing motherhood right… from bouncing back physically, to perfectly styled baby photos, there are endless ways to compare your version of motherhood with others.
Your body will look and feel different and you’ll likely experience all kinds of emotional ups and downs – golden, happy love one moment and overwhelming doubt the next. Tears may stream down your cheeks without explanation. You might be extremely tired or even frustrated at times.
It’s all new and it’s a learning curve for everyone involved; you, your partner and your baby. That’s why taking the time to settle into your new normal isn’t a luxury, it’s imperative. As a new mum, you’ll have enough to think about without worrying about how you look, how the house looks or having to entertain visitors and feed them freshly baked scones.
Be gentle with yourself during this time, you’ve just done something miraculous and now you have a new member of the family settling into life earth side. It’s truly incredible when you stop and think about it! Once you put this into perspective you realise that your only true priority is the health and wellbeing of you, your baby and your partner…. everything else is secondary.
Enjoy the newborn bubble Mumma, you’ve got this xx