Wednesday 9 February 2011

Managing Visitors

You've waited a long time to bring your baby home. Depending on your unit's visiting policy, you probably have loads of people eager to visit you and your baby. Usually, there are list of rules that you are given when you take your baby home the common ones are:

Minimise handling and passing baby around
Don't expose the baby to colds and flu
Ensure hands are washed before handling the baby
Don't allow the baby to come in contact with cigarette smoke, and this includes smoke on clothes

My good Twitter friend Jenny recently brought home her adorable triplets born at 28 weeks. She very cleverly designed a poster which she shared on her blog which she kindly agreed to me sharing with you. I think its a great way of getting the point across without alienating people (or alienating everyone equally!) Just click the picture so you can read it, and as a bonus, you get to see her three bonny babies, Calista, Eleanor and Tobias.

I think having something written makes it much easier to explain to people why we need the rules. It's very difficult for some people, particularly older people who may not have encountered tiny babies, why we have to be so careful, I think sometimes people think once a baby has come home they are "cured". Bringing home a baby in winter is particularly scary, as there are many bugs that to us can cause a sniffle or a cough, but to a tiny baby, can send them straight back to hospital, back on a ventilator.

In the first weeks, limit visitors. Ask people to call, text or email first and don't be afraid to say when a time is not convenient. It may seem mean, or controlling, but you have a responsibility to ensure your babies are safe, and continue to grow and develop well. Sometimes, you may risk offending people, but if they are people who really care about you and your baby, they will get over it!

Before you start allowing visitors, just be aware that you may get unexpected questions. My husband's older aunties were alarmed at Joseph's breathing, and it used to scare my elderly neighbour, I had never noticed that Joseph's breathing was loud and fast, to me it was normal! I used to struggle with the same aunties, who insisted on holding Joseph in a cradled horizontal position, which he hated, he preferred to be held upright. It's ok to explain the best way of holding your baby, you know your baby best.

The other thing you may not be expecting is unsolicitied advice, something common to all parents. It's very difficult at times to deal with, especially if you are doing things the way you have been advised by hospital staff. You can try explaining, or you can do what I did, and do a lot of the "smile and nod". And ignore it! Things like winding are passionate subjects, and everyone is an expert. Joseph needed a specific type of winding, but many people found it difficult to appreciate that I couldn't chuck him over my shoulder and tap him. If I did, I'd wear all the milk! And really, my fashion sense is challenged enough without having "eau d' baba vomite" down the back of my clothes.

Once your baby is older and stronger, you can encourage more visitors, and perhaps get out and about and show your baby off, but while you are going through the adjustment from hospital to home, its worthwhile to consider how you are going to manage, and how you are going to share information with your visitors.

And don't forget a huge bottle of hand sanitiser at the front door!

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