Breastfeeding in the Real World: 7 Tips for Controlling Visitors
The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for everyone… and it’s likely that the list of visitors wanting to meet your new little miracle will be long.
You also want to show off your baby. But, how do you navigate the influx of well-wishers while you and your baby are getting to know each other and learning to breastfeed...
Here are seven super helpful tips on how to manage visitors when you have a newborn.
Limit the Number of Visitors
Sounds easy right? But it can be difficult to turn away well-meaning friends and family who are bursting to meet your new arrival. And, besides, you appreciate the flowers, presents and meals that visitors bring. Unfortunately, overdoing it in the early days can leave you exhausted and can have a detrimental effect on your milk supply.
You and your baby will need to spend lots of time skin-to-skin and feed frequently to help establish your milk supply. Having too many visitors can hinder this vital process.
If the thought of having too many visitors makes you feel worried, create some “business rules” with friends and family before you give birth. That way they will be clear on when to visit you once you are ready.
It might make you feel a bit uncomfortable saying it, but you can save yourself a whole lot of anguish by being clear on your wishes. Something you might like to say is “We appreciate how excited you are to meet our new little bundle. We will be spending the next few days getting to know each other as a new family, so we will let you know when we are ready for a visit. We can’t wait for you to meet him or her.”
Of course, not everybody is phased by having visitors. If this sounds like you, enjoy the process- there is no right or wrong!
Ask Friends and Family to Stay Away if They are Sick
Newborn babies haven’t yet developed a healthy immune system and are vulnerable to picking up illnesses. Even though your breastmilk is providing an army of immune fighting defences to your baby, your baby will still be susceptible to illness and exposure to anyone who is sick should be avoided.
To an adult, a simple sniffle or scratchy throat may feel harmless, but ,to a newborn, it can be dangerous. Even visitors who are well can carry bugs that have the potential to make your baby sick, so always ask your visitors to wash their hands before touching your baby and avoid letting them kiss your baby, especially on their mouth and face.
Avoid letting a visitor who smokes hold your baby. Toxins in cigarettes can be harmful to your baby
Ask Your Visitors to Help
It’s likely that between recovering from your birth, learning to breastfeed and caring for your newborn that you may struggle to find the time to complete your regular chores. Asking your visitors to help out can be significant support and help you navigate the world of a newborn.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it takes a village after all, and most people are eager to do something that they know will lighten your load. Make a list and pop it on the fridge of all the ways that your visitors can help. Some suggestions for the list might be:
Thank you for your kind offer of assistance! We would love some help today with:
- Doing the dishes and wiping the benches
- Putting on a load of washing or hanging out the clothes
- Folding and putting away the clothes and nappies
- Getting out of the house for some exercise
- Doing a small grocery shop
- Running some errands
- Vacuuming the floors (the vacuum is located in the cupboard in the hallway)
- Rustling up something for lunch
- Getting something ready for dinner
- Watering the garden
- Cleaning the bathroom
It’s OK to Say No to Cuddles
New mums can find it difficult to say no to friends and family passing around their baby. Everybody loves a newborn and who can resist those squishy newborn cuddles, but, in the early days, your protective instinct is usually strong and the thought of someone else holding your baby may make you uncomfortable.
This protective feeling is mother nature’s clever way of you and your baby developing strong nurturing bonds and to establish breastfeeding.
If you find that the thought of your baby not being close to you is unsettling, try wearing your baby in a sling while you have visitors. The sling will keep your baby tucked in snugly against your body and will deter people from picking up the baby.
Avoid Being the Host
You have just had a baby; it’s a time for you to recover, so sit back and let your visitors make you a cuppa!
You may be used to being an accommodating host when you usually have visitors, but looking after a newborn and breastfeeding is a full-time job. Sit back and let your visitors do the spoiling.
As Them to Bring Food!
Breastfeeding is hungry work. If a visitor is popping over, ask them to stop at the shops on the way and pick you up something to eat. If you feel uncomfortable with requesting them to pick something up for you, instead have something available to them to assemble for you.
Don’t Be Embarrassed
Learning to breastfeed takes time. It’s like learning a new dance with a new dance partner; you need to learn new steps and find your rhythm with each other.
Like any new dance partner, there may be the occasional trip or wrong step… and many mums feel embarrassed feeding in front of visitors as they fumble through the new steps. As the days and weeks go by and you and your baby get more confident and relaxed, you will find that you are less self-conscious about feeding in front of other people.
Surround yourself with supportive visitors who don’t make you feel uncomfortable. If you are expecting a visitor that you feel might make your confidence waiver, ask them to pop the kettle on while you get positioned and get baby latched.
Having them disappear for a moment will give you enough space to be confidently feeding by the time that they return with your cuppa. You’d be surprised how little skin you do see when feeding a baby, have a look at yourself feeding in front of a mirror; you see less breastfeeding than you would seeing someone in a bikini!
As a society, we have lost the art of teaching breastfeeding by seeing other women breastfeeding. Hold your head high knowing that you are passing on this learned life skill by letting others, including children, see and helping to normalise breastfeeding.
What did you learn about having visitors as a new mum? What advice would you give to the other mums in our community who are struggling to keep friends and family under control? Let’s support each other here or on the Medela Australia Facebook page!