Just Say No... To Your Visitors?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Boston, MA, USA

Just Say No... Even To Your Visitors

[This is also an episode of Friday Free Talk on The Tranquility Tribe Podcast on iTunes. Listen here.]

For some, this may sounds like an insane idea and for others they are sitting there nodding their heads like "yup, this is my jam." If you couldn't imagine having your baby and not having visitors.. I hear you, I respect that, too. This is an exciting time and sharing it with friends and family is so important to some people. Equally, though, some people feel more comfortable adjusting to life with a newborn before they allow visitors to come in. For me, I don't have a preference because it isn't my baby. I know what I want for my own children, but what does that matter for this conversation? 

I'm going to dive into the benefits of waiting to have visitors. Obviously, these are general benefits that we see on average. There will always be outliers and unpredictable cases that no one could have seen coming. Here's all you need to know about The Golden Hour(s), your new baby's immune system, and what to do about all those visitors, dive on in! 

When: The Golden Hour 

The Golden Hour refers specifically to the first 60 minutes of your child's life on the outside. However, some people and some cultures choose to honor this in different ways and in varying lengths of quiet or alone time. There are several benefit to having this time be undisturbed and strictly reserved for bonding with your baby, settling into your new role as a parent, space to process the birth (or at least that it's over), and to relish in the fact that your baby is here. 

The way your baby is treated in this first hour of their life is believed to have an impact on their transition to life after birth. If nothing else, consider it a way of being gentle and sweet with this tender, tiny human that is so delicate.

How: My Midwife/hospital said no visitors

You can always blame you care providers for being the reason that visitors aren't allowed or maybe "only immediate relatives" are allowed to visit. The first few days with a newborn can be challenging. You are exhausted. You are playing a brand new role with minimal, if any, on the job training. It is a learning curve for you, your baby, and your partner (if applicable). Making sure that you control what you can in the environment will allow you to avoid feeling overwhelmed. This may be controlling the number of visitors or who is allowed to visit. Be prepared that you may face some push back as people get very excited to get newborn snuggles. Stand your ground if it is something that is important to you. That person will eventually get to hold your baby and all will be well (and almost always you are forgiven for withholding baby cuddles).

Why: The Benefits

Just for one second, imagine being squeezed through a very small cavity and out you pop into this bright, cold, and loud environment where you have multiple new hands touching your body. These people are helping you adjust to life on the outside. Assuming that you are healthy and don't need any immediate attention, and then BOOM!, out of nowhere someone is causing stabbing pains in your legs and the bottom of your feet by giving you your vaccinations and drawing your blood. Ouch! What a welcome to this new life, right? Consider requesting delayed newborn procedures. Delaying these procedures, or declining all together if that's what you choose, can help your baby adjust to life for an hour or longer before being introduced to the sensation of pain for the first time ever.

Another benefit to requesting an undisturbed first hour is allowing your baby this time of undisturbed skin-to-skin will support healthy breastfeeding. Babies are born with the ability to crawl, did you know that? A baby who is just born can do something called "The Breast Crawl" and it is fascinating to watch. I have seen several babies do it. You can watch it for yourself here (It takes a minute, not a process you want to rush). It never gets old and parents + nurses are just as in awe of this tiny human knowing exactly what to do to survive. This is a great time to learn about your baby's latch, your colostrum, when to expect your milk to come in, and proper/safe breastfeeding position and tips.

Your body and your child's body will work together; your bodies need one another. Your child's body on your chest will continue to produce hormones and chemicals that will help with pain relief. These hormones are essential to childbirth and you can benefit greatly from encouraging them to flow more! These hormones can also help your placenta release and it helps trigger the process for your milk to begin producing. Your body will also adjust its' to temperature to match exactly what your baby needs. Your baby's body doesn't have the ability to regulate as efficiently as your body as they don't have the same amount of insulating fat. If your baby is chilly, you will warm up. If your baby is warm, your body will adjust to accommodate that!

All of these things combined create a wonderful, supportive environment for healthy mother-child attachment. Keeping this time immediately following birth a sacred, calm, and quiet time can help keep your baby in a relaxed state. This undisturbed time period provides a great opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Skin-to-skin can help boost your child's immunity by exposing them to germs that are on your body and breasts. Babies come from a nearly sterile environment in the womb to a germ-filled world. During the birthing process, your baby will be exposed to your gut and vaginal bacteria and other "initiating bacteria" that will help naturally inoculate your chid for life on the outside. Skin-to-skin will only boost this process!

Finally, this is a chance for you to advocate for your birth rights! A study in The Journal of Perinatal Education puts it better than I ever could. "What mothers and babies need most after birth is each other, with unlimited opportunities for skin-to-skin care and breastfeeding. When health professionals respect, honor, and support the physiologic need that mothers and babies have for each other after birth, they also improve the short- and long-term health outcomes for mothers and babies. Preventing separation except for compelling medical indications is an essential safe and healthy birth practice and an ethical responsibility of health-care professionals."


It's OK to Say "No"

The bottom line here is that this is your baby, your body, and your postpartum time. You can say "open the flood gates of visitors," or you can say "no one until week 4," and anything other variation you please. The way your bring your child into this world and those few hours immediately following their birth will absolutely affect their well-being. If an undisturbed time feels right for you, then advocating before the baby gets here might save you a lot of heartache opposed to telling people once the baby is here. Of course, if this is a last minute decision and you've only decided this once the baby is here, that's okay, too. The ones who love you will understand. 

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