The Golden Rules of Visiting
After giving birth I can safely say that every new mother feels horrendous (at least everyone I've ever known anyway). And what's the thing you really, really don't want to deal with when you’re sleep deprived, can hardly sit down and you're bleeding more profusely than you ever thought possible? Ah yes, visitors! Imagine feeling ill, so ill that even showering feels like a supreme effort and then being told all your relatives want to come and see you, ‘arraghhhh NOOO’ you’d probably be thinking.
And yet that is the reality post birth; EVERYONE wants to see you. Well strictly speaking they don’t want to see you but the tiny human you just pushed out of your vagina who happens to be very much attached to you and will be physically latched onto your bleeding nipple at any possible opportunity.
There is of course a pecking order of visitors; family members first obviously. This leads onto the invariable question, which side first? Your parents or your in-laws… I can cope with my parents seeing me at my worst and since they’re my parents I can also happily boss them around or tell them truthfully if I’m not feeling well enough. However, it is always a little trickier with in-laws, not because you don’t like them but because they just aren’t your parents and you don’t want to look like utterly terrible in front of them with your engorged boobs liable to make an escape from the new breastfeeding tops you haven’t got to grips with yet. Once you do decide who is allowed to come first, the ball is then set in motion and you have to make sure every grandparent has an allocated slot to come. This becomes even more of a complicated issue if either set of parents are separated. And after parents there are then siblings to consider and invite. It feels never-ending. (And believe me, it is never-ending, it doesn’t stop there because guess what? Once the last person has been the first person will be asking when they can come again and it goes on and on and on…!)
How I wish I’d had a blanket rule of no visitors for at least the first two weeks; singling out no-one and offending everyone in one foul swoop! Failing that, I wish I could have given every family visitor a little card with a list of golden rules to abide by to make life a little easier. That little card would have consisted of the following:
1. Wait to be invited, never invite yourself! You don’t know how the new parents will be feeling and at what point they will be able to cope with seeing people. Try not to feel offended, it genuinely isn’t you.
2. Do not turn up empty handed! I'm not talking about presents for the baby here although obviously they would be most welcome too, I'm talking about food!! Bring us food!! And not just cake and biscuits because chances are, we’re eating way too many of these already but please, please bring a good hearty, home cooked meal. Failing that, go to M&S and bring us one of those – oh and pop it in the oven and serve us will you?
3. Don’t expect to be hosted. Following on from the above…. the new parents will feel like zombies and hosting will be the last thing on their minds. Do pop the kettle on and make everyone a cup of tea.
4. Don’t neglect basic hygiene. Please wash your hands before holding the baby, they’re brand new and liable to catch anything going. And please no kissing if you’ve ever had so much of a whiff of a cold sore at any point in your life.
5. Help Us! Please help us with the baby when she is crying and not just when she is asleep, that is the EASY bit.
6. Do not forget the new mother. Do tell her what an amazing job she has done and is now doing. Do not mention anything to do with appearance or weight.
7. Do not outstay your welcome. Don’t stay for more than a couple of hours in the early days and definitely do not stay the night unless you fancy holding and feeding the baby whilst the parents sleep!