Everyone loves to visit a new mother and her baby. There’s always much anticipation around such an important life event and celebrating birth is one of life’s joys.
Though much like every other aspect of our lives, Covid has meant we’ve needed to think more carefully about the ways we connect with each other and share our lives. And at such a vulnerable time, it’s particularly important to make sure we protect those who rely on the rest of us to stay healthy and well.
It’s not just Covid which we need to be mindful of either. Although the virus has taken a lot of our focus recently, it’s equally important to be mindful of protecting each other from other potential communicable illnesses.
What’s helpful when it comes to planning visitors
It can be useful to plan during pregnancy how to manage visitors once you’ve had your baby.
You and your partner need to decide what’s right for you all. If you don’t feel ready, or are uncomfortable about having visitors, just be polite and tell people you want a little time to settle first as a family. Let people know their support is invaluable, but you simply need a little more time.
Make a list of close friends and family who you’d like to see in the early days and weeks. First, let them know that you’re being very careful about staying well and healthy. Comments like “I’m sure you’ll understand” or “We can’t be too careful”, are fair explanations.
Most people are kind and reasonable. If you ask them to give you a little space in the early weeks after your baby is born, they’re sure to understand. A text message, phone call or contact via your partner are all good ways to communicate.
If people are keen to help, suggest alternatives to visiting you. Home cooked meals are always welcome and a lovely way of supporting a new family.
Use technology to connect with your friends and family. Video calls where they can see you and the baby are the next best option to meeting in person. A random text, video and/or photo helps people to feel they’re not forgotten.
Try to limit visitors to 1-2 at a time. It can work to ask people to visit you at home within a window of time – say a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon if you can predict your baby will be settled.
Check the facts
Become familiar with asking people if they are well before you see them. If not, enquire if they’ve had a Covid test or have seen a doctor. It’s absolutely reasonable to clarify if they tested negative and if they’re following the Government guidelines for testing and quarantine/isolation if necessary.
Try to maintain social distancing rules of 1.5 metres between each other and ask people to wear a mask if they’re required to. Have a supply of masks and hand sanitiser for people to use.
Check the visitor’s policy at the hospital where you are having your baby. All hospitals and healthcare facilities have Check in and wellness policies designed to provide a level of protection.
Other important tips when it comes to visitors
Ask everyone to wash their hands before they hold or touch your baby. Make sure you have liquid soap and paper towels for hand drying at your kitchen basin. If they don’t initiate hand washing themselves, you can gently suggest this. If you’d prefer people didn’t hold the baby, simply say “we’re trying to limit direct contact, at least until she/he has had their first vaccinations”. Though childhood vaccinations are not meant to provide complete immunity, they do provide protection against specific diseases.
If you’d prefer not to see anyone, just let people know you’re still recovering from the birth and you’re focusing on yourself and the baby for now. Tell them how much you value their support and your relationship, but for now, you’re trying to get to know your baby and it’s taking a little time.
Written by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse, November 2021.