As your due date and baby’s birth approach, you are probably starting to think a lot about visitors. Maybe your well-intentioned family members are already scheduling their trips or asking for alerts. Perhaps your friends and co-workers are already dropping hints about wanting to meet baby right away.
I’m really glad you’re here. Let’s talk all about how to handle and plan for visitors after your baby’s birth.
I wish I’d given more thought and planned better for visitors after birth. Being intentional and thinking through your personal ‘visitor policy’ and preferences ahead of time will save you a lot of stress.
With my help and some thoughtful discussion and decision making before baby is born you’ll know exactly how to:
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Your first “hurdle” so to speak when it comes to dealing with visitors post-birth will start during your hospital stay. This is something that you should give a lot of thought to before you give birth. You want to include policies on visitors, photography and social media in your birth wishes. While I can’t claim these are as important as thinking through immediate after-birth decisions and labor pain-coping strategies, they are certainly not things you want to wait to decide on the fly.
By thinking about and planning for these logistics ahead of time, you won’t need to deal with extra stress caused by social intricacies and visitors while healing from birth and adjusting to life with your newborn. You can find worksheets and planning guides to complete these tasks, along with a thorough 5+ page birth plan in our Nesting Planner.
When thinking about hospital visitors, you’ll also want to plan for updates throughout labor and delivery. I’m willing to bet you have at least a handful of loved ones who want to know exactly when labor starts and when you’re heading to the hospital.
It’s a good idea to sit down with your partner and decide who you want to know when you go into labor and when you head to the hospital. Once you let people know things are happening, they are probably going to want updates as well.
Have one contact person to share updates
One strategy that works really well is to pick one contact person ahead of time who will be in charge of updating other VIPs. A phone tree of labor and delivery updates, if you will. This way, during your labor your partner only needs to text updates to one person and that person can share with anyone else who needs or wants to know. This will also give you control over who knows about your progress.
Things to consider about sharing labor and delivery updates:
Take some time to think about your answers to these questions. Based on your preferences, you can decide who you want contacted with updates. You might even want to talk to them ahead of time about posting to social media or alerting others if this is not something you want done. Best to explicitly state your wishes than leave it to chance.
Some mamas I know wanted to have their own mothers present during labor and delivery. One friend of mine just wanted to know her mom was nearby, a calming presence. Another had her mom very involved with helping her manage contraction pains.
I know women who have had a friend or sister on call in the event of a long labor. This trusted loved one can give dad a break, or bring new energy and support to the room during labor.
Having you and your husband’s immediate family visit in the hospital can be a really fun and special occasion. Getting to hold their new grandbaby, niece or nephew for the first time when they are less than a day old is a memory they will hold forever.
Just be direct in how long you want them to stay, what they can bring that would be helpful (food!) and ask them not to share photos or news on social media if that is important to you.
My husband, Patrick, wanted to head back to our house after N’s birth to take our dogs on a fun hike and bring an item with her scent on it home to help the dogs’ transition. He was able to do this more easily because my mom came to keep me company and support me while Patrick was away for a few hours. My mom happily snuggled N in our recovery room after I nursed her so that I could catch some much needed sleep.
This might be helpful to you if you have pets at home, older siblings, or your partner has any other engagements that he needs to check in on (like a sick family member, etc.).
After your baby is born, things get real fast and the emotional roller coaster is intense. The joy you’ll feel is like no other and your adrenaline will be pumping.
Throughout your 2-3 day hospital stay, you will have a huge range of medical staff popping in to check on you and baby. You’ll be learning the intricacies of breastfeeding a newborn and you’ll be healing physically and emotionally from birth.
You will be learning how to care for a newborn, swaddle, change diapers and soothe them. You will be trying to get some sleep yourself and bond as a family. Throwing visitors into this mix may not be for you, and that’s okay.
You know your family best. Should you be direct and upfront about your wishes? Will they be respectful or will they show up unannounced?
Could you let your family members in on labor and delivery updates and know that they won’t drop in, or is it better to wait until baby is actually born to clue them in?
I know some friends of mine waited until a whole day later to ensure privacy and bonding, and I can’t say I totally blame them…
Our experience and decision regarding visitors in the hospital and in the first weeks
For us, it made sense to alert immediate family when we needed to head to the hospital, because my mom and brother were going to stay in our home with the dogs. They then visited us in the hospital briefly the night she was born, and for another brief visit on our first full day so that Patrick could go home to help the dogs transition.
They helped ready our home for our homecoming by stocking the fridge, and left within the hour of us arriving home so that we could spend Patrick’s 2-week paternity leave without overnight visitors. My mom then came back after Patrick returned to work to help out for a week of transition.
Many families choose to have no visitors, or very limited visitors, during the first two weeks after birth. This is an essential time to establish milk supply by focusing on breastfeeding, heal physically from birth, and find your new normal as a family.
Additionally, some are concerned about their newborn’s exposure to germs with visitors. You will also not likely be up for hosting or entertaining so planning for this to be quiet family time is beneficial.
Being upfront about your wishes is important. By thinking this through before your baby is born, you can let people know that you would love for them to meet baby after some time has passed. You can talk about finding your new normal or blame it on not knowing how you’re going to feel.
If you can let people know beforehand, you won’t be letting them down because they’ll already expect the answer. Planning a Sip and See is a great way for people to have a date in their mind to get excited about meeting the baby. You can find more about this idea below.
A lot of people are finding cute and clever ways to keep visitors at bay, including clever signs to hang on their front doors. If you live in a neighborhood or have friends who like to do a “drop-in” or might use the excuse of bringing you food or offering to help to get a glimpse of baby, this might be useful for you.
Some families are more social and excited to share their new bundle of joy. If this is you, go for it! Just make sure to think it through ahead of time and have realistic expectations.
Very close friends who won’t expect to be entertained are great first visitors. A handful of our closest friends popped in and out during our first two weeks to hike our dogs and bring us food. One friend of mine in particular was amazing about bringing us containers of delicious soups and stews, and baked goods to have on hand. She would help out by holding N so I could shower, or help me tidy up the kitchen. She knew exactly the right amount of time to stay, and was really the perfect support person.
If you do plan to have visitors, I recommend choosing people who you know will be helpful, are very important to you, and that will have no issue with being kicked out at a moment’s notice, if you know what I mean.
Your family will definitely want to meet the baby right away. It’s important that you put your wishes and needs first. Don’t let any family guilt you into letting them visit if you aren’t up for it.
Invite family that is going to be helpful. If you have family nearby, they could be super helpful during these first few weeks. Only you know how your family will be.
Again, this is going to depend on location and your wishes. We wanted my parents to meet N right away, but then they quickly left town so that we could be alone for our first two weeks. They were very respectful of our wishes.
Think about your family and what is right for you. A friend of mine had her in-laws from out of town stay with her for the first 2 weeks, and it was a nightmare. They were guilted into it and definitely will do it different the next time around.
I would recommend having any out of town visitors, if you choose to have them, stay at their own place. They can utilize an AirBnB or a hotel. This will take the pressure off of your having to entertain and always needing to be on. It will always alleviate any extra stress, and they’ll have a place to go should you need to ask for a break from them.
Some exceptions to this might be if you have a very helpful family member who you’d like to have stay with you during the first few weeks. Some women have their mothers or mother-in-laws come to stay and help with the adjustment to life with a baby.
If visitors are going to come, it’s best to have a plan in place or some ideas of ways that they can be helpful to you. It will allow you to focus on breastfeeding, enjoy your visitors, and get help with things around the house.
People often want to be helpful but don’t necessarily feel comfortable diving into your dirty dishes or helping out with laundry. Don’t be shy about asking for help or giving direct requests when they ask what they can do.
Even before they come when you are planning for their visit and ask what you need, say you could use a dinner, or toilet paper, or any other errand. They really do want to help!
A Sip and See is basically an informal “welcome baby” party. The new parents choose a date and window of time for guests to drop-in, open house style. Sip and Sees are typically very casual events with light refreshments.
The best part about a Sip and See is that the details can be completely determined based on what you’re up for. Don’t want any pressure? Make it a potluck. Have a mother-in-law who wants to cater it? Go for it. Like games? Great! Want presents? Some people even create registries for things they forgot.
It’s really all about meeting the baby and the convenient part of a Sip and See is that you can get all your visitors over with in one day. That means having your act and house together for one window of time instead of a number of individual visits.
Most people wait to host a Sip and See until baby is around 2 months old, or 8-10 weeks postpartum. This is because you will have slightly more of a handle on things, and you don’t need to be as concerned about germs around your tiny newborn baby.
If you decide to host a Sip and See you’ll want to decide on a date and venue before getting out your invitations. It’s usually easiest to have this at your own home because you’ll have everything you need to keep baby happy and comfortable at your fingertips. Alternatively, if you have family close by you could do it at a relative’s home.
Once you decide on the date and venue, aim to get your Sip and See invites out 4-6 weeks prior to the event. Because a Sip and See is typically less formal than a shower, a smaller window for invitations is fine. You can use your Sip and See invites as a kind of birth announcement too if you’d like.
Sip and Sees originated in the South as a way for family and friends to meet the new baby. Traditionally, tea, lemonade, or coffee were served with light refreshments. But really, the menu is up to you! You could cater sandwiches for a lunch event, do a continental brunch with bagels and pastries, or do a full catered event if that is what you want.
Sip and Sees and baby showers are very different events, and I don’t think you need to choose one or the other. Your baby shower is a chance to celebrate your baby’s upcoming arrival with important people in your life. Especially if it is your first baby, a shower is a great chance to spend time with family and really connect and catch up before your life changes forever and you take on the role of mom.
A Sip and See is more about welcoming the baby and giving important people in your life a chance to meet the baby.
If this is not your first baby, then a Sip and See can be a really fun alternative to a second baby shower because you still get to celebrate baby.
Baby showers are also more traditionally where gifts are given, whereas Sip and Sees aren’t always gift-oriented.
A meal train is another great way to plan for visitors after your baby’s birth. This is a way to get many of your dinners or lunches taken care of by loved ones as you transition into life with your new baby.
A meal train is basically a way for loved ones to sign up to bring you dinner on various dates after the baby is born. Traditionally, meal trains have been done pen and paper style but now there are a few great websites that make it even easier to set up a meal train.
Often, a friend offers to coordinate your meal train by sending a sign-up sheet around your workplace, neighborhood, church community, etc. for people to choose a date where they are responsible for your dinner that night.
Online meal trains make it so that you just have to send or post a link and anyone interested can sign up for a date. I participated in an online meal train for a friend of mine that was so easy to use. It allowed the family to put in the dates they would like dinners, instructions for drop-off and dietary preferences. The site also emailed and texted me convenient reminders and the family’s address the day I was in charge.
What’s great about an online meal train is that family members who are far away can help in the coordination, and there is an option to create a “donation fund” for the family to order take out. You can even sign up for a date from afar and then on your day, just find a local place to deliver to them and pay over the phone. Ah technology!
Typically, a friend or family member hosts a meal train for someone, so I recommend reaching out to a loved one and seeing if they’d set it up for you. However, if you don’t have anyone who’s willing to do it, I think it’s fine to host your own. Especially if you do it via the website and can post a link to your own social media so people can sign up on their own accord without feeling put on the spot.
No! The whole point of this is to make your life easier and for your loved ones to support you from afar. Typically, meal train drop off is done without the family even seeing the person. You can choose to leave a cooler or box on your front step or outside your door for people to leave food in.
Today we talked about the pros and cons of having visitors in the hospital and in the first few weeks after birth. You learned about how to host a Sip and See to make handling visitors more compact and convenient. We also talked about the benefits of a meal train and how to go about getting one set up.
The bottom line is, the best way to prepare and plan for visitors after birth is by thinking it through and deciding on what’s best for your family before the baby arrives. This will allow you to strategize, hurt less feelings, and pre-plan for things like a Sip and See to make your life easier after birth.
In our nesting planner, you can find a variety of worksheets to help plan your Sip and See, create visitor and social media policies, checklists for helpful and supportive visitors and even more to help you prepare for birth. Learn more and help yourself Nest Smart today!