The talk you NEED to have before baby arrives…VISITORS!

To breastfeed or bottle feed? Circumcise or not? CIO or co sleep? While these are important parenting decisions, there is another conversation that you need to have with your partner well before your baby is born, and I think it’s crucial enough to your relationship and sanity that you really spend some time thinking through your wishes and that you be 100% honest with your partner.

I’m talking about how you handle visitors, and any “outsiders” (meaning ANYONE outside of you and your partner) and their role in your lives as you adjust to your new family status. When Oliver was born I felt simultaneous love for my newborn son, but also immediate stress in trying to figure out this “mom thing” in front of an audience, even if they were our closest family members and friends.

Luckily, well before my son was born, I had a pretty accurate sense of how I’d feel about visitors in the hospital and in the early days at home. I knew I wouldn’t be up for handling visitors beyond immediate family in the hospital, and that I’d want to keep the visitor list at home pretty small for a couple weeks. As proud as I was of the little miracle in my arms, I wasn’t quite ready to share him, and I was also still SO NEW at this breastfeeding thing, and couldn’t imagine stumbling through it (and all the emotions that come with it!) in front of many visitors. We actually turned down a few lovely offers from friends to visit in the hospital, but I know myself well enough to know that was the best decision for me after a totally life changing event!

My attitude stayed pretty similar once we got home. While I definitely recognize my “maternal instincts” now that Oliver is older, they were buried behind layers and layers of fear and doubt in the weeks and months after he was born. Even with a pretty slim list of visitors, some of the people we loved and wanted to share our amazing child with pointed out all the little things THEY did with their kids, or that I should try with baby. I can still remember some words that I’m sure were well intentioned, but made me feel totally stupid at the time, resulting in lots of tears after I closed the door and said goodbye.

before visitors come see new baby

First week at home – babies just sleep all the time, right? What could be so stressful?


Was I overly sensitive? Um, yes – I had about a trillion extra hormones raging through my body, and just went from carefree existence to being responsible for keeping a teeny tiny human alive. I think that unless they’ve been in your shoes recently, it’s easy for visitors (especially those whose “babies” are far older, and may see motherhood through rose colored glasses) to forget how overwhelming those first days and weeks as a new mom can be. Unless asked, a new mom only needs to hear “You’re doing great!” or “Can I grab you something to eat?” or “That’s tough, hang in there. It WILL get better!” She is doubting herself enough, and will ask for advice if she wants it from you specifically.

You might be far more laid back than me on this matter, or not feel the crazy surge of hormones that I did. Maybe you can’t imagine NOT filling your house with friends and family to meet your bundle of joy within days of his or her arrival, and yearn for the helpful tips of more experienced moms. If you’re this kind of person, you probably know it!

Either way, it’s important to talk with your partner about your feelings on the matter well before visitors start calling to arrange their visit. They’re not mind readers, so telling them in advance if you predict being a bit overwhelmed will give you time to think about how to respond to well meaning friends and family who ask if they can stop by before you’re ready. (We usually just stuck with “We’d love to see you but aren’t quite ready for too many visitors just yet and have a few visits already in the works. Can we get in touch later in the month?”)

Throughout your parenting career, you will have to lean on your partner to stand up for what is best for your family (and then return the favor once your hormones die down, they can’t fight all your battles!). You’re the only people who know what is best for your family, and it’s hard to make these decisions on the fly after the baby has already arrived. I can remember that even in the midst of all the postpartum aches and emotions, I felt so well cared for by my husband during these early days – he defended our time, privacy, and decisions from day one, and I had never appreciated him more. I believe that this was an awesome start to our relationship as parenting partners, and it set a precedence for how we would work as a team to make decisions and present them to anyone if needed. Two years later and about to welcome our second baby, I feel a lot more joy and confidence in parenting, but there are still tough days. I take a lot of comfort in knowing I picked such an awesome husband and father for my kids, and I firmly believe that starting off on the same page on this issue helped us start this parenting thing on the right foot.




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