How to Survive the First Few Weeks with a Newborn

Setting the Boundaries When You Have a New Baby

If you’ve done NCT or something similar, you have probably been told that it is best to limit visitors in the days following the birth of your baby. But this isn’t always easy to do as there will probably be enthusiastic relatives and friends who are desperate to see your beautiful new addition. Some won’t stay long, just long enough for a cup of tea and a quick cuddle, but even this can be far from ideal when you’re totally exhausted. Especially if you’ve had a long and/or difficult labour.

Giving birth is an amazing experience, for some more than others (personally I hated both of my births), and often, the last thing you want to be doing shortly afterwards is making tea and washing up cups for a constant stream of visitors. You may not even want to sit and make conversation (I didn’t). You may not even want to hand your brand-new baby over to anyone else! (I didn’t want to do that either!) And until you have given birth, you won’t really know how you’re going to feel.

From personal experience (I came home 24 hours after giving birth to my second to find my father in law sitting on the bench in my front garden) and from years of working with frazzled mums, I know how important it is to make it really clear to your family and friends that you need a few days (or weeks) to catch your breath having given birth. You don’t know what kind of labour and birth you’re going to have, so you don’t know if you’re going feel like being sociable and this is definitely a time in your life when you can be totally selfish, and say “no” to visitors! And anyone who has had a baby will probably understand.

When you have had the time you need to recover, and you are ready to show off your beautiful baby, prioritise your nearest and dearest as your first visitors, but keep visits short and make sure you are not the one jumping up and making the tea! If people offer to help with meals (it’s always nice when someone shows up with a lasagne), laundry, tidying up, cleaning, shopping and whatever else will allow you to sit down, rest or sleep, say, “Yes please!” And make the most of this time to catch up on sleep, bond with your baby and establish feeding.

This may sound a bit too strict, but it is all too easy to end up with a constant flow of (slightly unwelcome) visitors and a sink full of dirty cups and plates. And on top of that, the realisation that you have barely held your baby for hours!

These first few weeks with your baby are about bonding and reassuring him/her that they are safe and loved now that they are in the big, scary outside world. Honestly, the visitors can wait.

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