Meeting a Newborn: When & How to Be a Welcome Visitor
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2024

Meeting a Newborn: When & How to Be a Welcome Visitor

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of welcoming a new baby to the family. While there’s no doubt grandparents, aunts, uncles, and dear friends already have gifts and casseroles ready to go, there’s good reason for new parents to tap the brakes on home visits; at least for a little while.

The reason for this is two-fold: the health of the baby and the health of the birth parent.

Part of what make newborns so gosh-darn adorable is just how new they are. But it’s that newness and lack of a developed immune system that make them highly susceptible to bacteria and viruses. In an infant’s tender system, even the common cold can develop into a serious and life-threatening infection. Ideally, it is best to keep visitors at bay until your baby has received their first set of the recommended vaccines (roughly two months).

If that’s not possible, it falls to the new parents to be sure visitors have a recent flu, RSV, TDap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis), whooping cough, and COVID vaccines. Anyone with a cough, fever, runny nose or other signs of illness should be granted window viewing privileges only.

For the lucky ones who do make it in, it’s important they follow some basic rules of hygiene. Visitors should be required to either wash their hands with warm soapy water or use a hand sanitizer before holding the baby. (NOTE: You need to repeat this each time you ready to hold the baby.) They should also refrain from kissing the baby’s face as they may inadvertently pass along germs and viruses. There will be plenty of time for snuggles and hugs as the baby grows.

In all the excitement of the baby’s arrival, it’s easy to overlook that new mothers have needs, too; specifically rest. Holding off on visitors is just one way to ensure they get sufficient time  to recover from the birth experience, adjust to the new world order, and bond with the baby.

Because it's likely some members of your family will second guess your rules around visiting, it’s a good idea to let them know your thoughts prior to the big day. You may get some pushback, but you should never doubt that doing what’s best for your baby’s health is the only thing that matters.

 

Bridget Bromirski, C-PNP, IBCLC is a nurse in Women’s and Children’s Services Department at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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