A baby visitation policy is a total must. I know that as a NICU nurse and former peds nurse, I overthink things a little when it comes to germs and babies.
But this is just one of those things I think every new parent should develop, regardless of whether you’re afraid of germs 😉
My baby will be born in the midst of flu season and I’m not too thrilled about it. That being said, I decided pretty early on to limit visitors once the baby is born.
My mom and two sisters live far enough away that they would have to fly on a crowded, germy plane in order to get here. Therefore, I assured them that I would come to them when the danger was over. It would be easier to make one trip to see all of them than to have them all come to see us, anyway.
My husband’s family lives in town so they will of course be able to come at their leisure. The nice thing about that though, is that they can just stay home if they’re sick!
I’d feel really bad if my out of town family traveled here and I had to tell them not to come over!
All this being said, take it from me. You need a baby visitation policy!
Here’s why you need a baby visitation policy
Babies under three months of age have virtually no immune system.
Yes, your baby gets some immunity from you. But it’s very passive and it doesn’t last very long. & think about this: there are a ton of things that you don’t have immunity to that your baby can pick up!
If you’re thinking that germs are good because that’s how we develop antibodies, you’re right and wrong.
In a strong, functioning immune system, antibodies are developed. In an underdeveloped immune system, the body can be attacked before it has time to make antibodies! This means that one “harmless” infection can overwhelm your baby’s body.
You only get a short amount of time alone with the baby.
If you’re like me and live in the US, you’ve got 12 weeks or less to get into a routine and bond with your new baby. Don’t feel bad about limiting visitors so that you get the time you need with your baby!
Your baby needs rest anyway.
Don’t forget that babies need a lot of rest in the beginning of life. Visitors are going to be noisy or will want to see and play with the baby while he or she is awake.
One thing I’ve learned in the NICU is to leave the babies alone!! If they’re not crying, don’t bother them!
You need rest, too.
I repeat: you need rest, too! For a few days, don’t let anyone come over to visit with the baby. If they want to come over and clean for you – great! But otherwise, don’t feel bad about telling people no so that you can recover from delivery and inevitable sleep deprivation.
A baby visitation policy goes beyond just limiting visitors. Let your visitors know what is expected of them, too.
Here are some things to include in your policy
At minimum, visitors must be fever free for 24 hours.
This is the rule in our NICU, but personally I almost want to say just stay away until you’re feeling well!
You have to wash your hands before holding the baby.
Let’s be honest. You have no idea when they last did it. Sanitizer is fine for “clean” hands, but make sure anyone with dirt on their hands does some manual labor to get it off.
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
Like I said, our little one is going to be born in the middle of flu season. My husband doesn’t know this yet, but he’s getting a flu vaccine this year. He hates needles.
Another recommended vaccine is the tdap booster, especially important for regular caregivers (of which my in-laws are planning to be).
Again, don’t feel bad for requesting these things. It’s YOUR child and it’s ultimately up to YOU to advocate for them!
Visitors must be approved.
If you have the type of family members who like to just show up, make sure they know that this is a requirement!
You don’t want visitors when you’re lying around the house in sweats and an overlarge t-shirt with no bra on. Or if you’ve been too tired or just don’t care to clean up the house.
Visit time is limited to x number of hours.
We need to rest. Make sure visitors know that visitation needs to be limited to short periods for a while. My recommendation is three hours. That’s long enough for one feeding cycle before baby is inevitably back to sleep.
So get started on your baby visitation policy today. Take some time to think about what you want after birth and write things down. It can be as strict or lenient as you want it. Share with the rest of us for some ideas!
P.S. Ready to make some more decisions? Check out my post on 6 Pregnancy Decisions to Make!