16 November 2010

Hospital Visitors

Many years ago, I used to get very excited about going to visit friends in hospital after the arrival of their new baby. It seemed like such a privilage to be able to see this new little life. What would it look like? Who would it look like? Would it be awake or asleep? Would I get to have a cuddle? What should I take - gifts or food? Then one day my opinion of hospital visits changed forever.

We went to see one of my husband's cousins shortly after the birth of her first son. When we arrived, we were excited to learn that another one of his cousins had also recently given birth and was in the same hospital. What luck - two babies in one visit! We proceeded to find the cousin and surprise them with a visit. We knocked on the door and went in. What we saw next changed my mind forever about hospital visits. There she was, sitting on the bed looking exhausted. Her new baby son was hungry and crying for food. She was trying to breastfeed this tiny new baby and was having no luck. There she was with her boobs hanging out, red eyes from crying, a screaming child. Her husband also looked like he had been hit by a truck and had been lying on the floor trying to get some rest when we arrived. It was at that point that I realised the time a women has in hospital after giving birth is a private and important time. It is a time to start bonding with her baby, a time to learn about breastfeeding and a time for parents to come to terms with their new role. I also realised that my insatable need to visit was all about what I wanted and not much about what was best for the new Mum.

When Layla arrived, Daniel and I had already decided not to have visitors. We restricted visitors to immediate family only. Within half an hour of giving birth, I had 8 family members plus Daniel, Layla and I in the delivery suite....wow....full on! By day two of just family visiting, I said enough. My room was very small and I became overwhelmed with all the people coming and going. In the end I further restricted my visitors to by husband and my Mum.

Layla (2 days old) deep in thought

Always remember why you are in hospital. You are there to rest and recouperate, to learn how to establish breastfeeding and bond with your child. You're not there to entertain. If you were, we would give birth in a restaurant or function centre!

The decision as to whether to have visitors or not is a very individual one. With the joys of modern technology, an SMS and email can be sent with photos of your new arrival which should satisfy many. Over time when you are feeling up to it, you can have visitors pop round to see you at home. I know of some women who prefer to have all of their visitors in the hospital so that when they get home they can restrict guests. No matter which you chose, remember to make your decision based on what is best for you. Everyone else will understand. There is no shame is saying "sorry, no visitors". It is very important that you learn early on how to put your needs first at this time. Make sure to discuss what you want to do about visitors before you give birth so that you can advise family and friends in advance.


  1. Great article Jas. Keep them coming.

  2. I couldn't agree more. After a 2 day (30 hour)difficult and dangerous labour with Archie I was swamped with 12 of my husband's family. To top it off my Mother-in-Law made a very offensive comment about his name (in front of all of the family) and it's taken me this long to forgive her.

    With Jinty, I set some very rigid guidelines and my wishes came true. It was so much better without the circus of family and friends. In the following weeks, people dropped over and either had a meal with us or left us one. SUCH a much better option.